The kinetic art that is Jaquet Droz’s automatons have to be appreciated up close and personal. Many watchmakers blur the line between watchmaking and mechanical art but automatons, especially those that decorated in metiers d’art, arguably cross the line.
Like many of its earlier mechanical marvels watches, Jaquet Droz took inspiration from nature for the new Magic Lotus Automaton.
Inspired by the concept of the circle of life, the dial depicts a gently flowing lake that circles the dial with representations of the seasons, a symbol of the stages of life.
The automaton process of the Magic Lotus is fairly complex. Engage the pusher and the peripheral disc that’s painted to resemble flowing water starts to rotate, mimicking a lake.
In this lake a koi carp swims with its tail swishing back and forth. Its movement is one of the more obvious automaton on the Magic Lotus.
What may not be obvious until the second or third time observing the automata, is that not only does the koi’s tail move from side to side, the koi itself dips below the “surface” of the water to pass under the lotus leaves. The best way to observe this is to view the dial from its sides.
In order to achieve the delicate motion, the watchmakers at Jaquet Droz built racks for both the up and down movement, as well as the side to side movement of the fish. Below the koi is a gear train that propels the creature along its path.
Another subtle motion during the four-minute long automaton process is the colour-changing lotus flower that has “fallen into the lake”. It’s visible above at nine o’clock with the ruby in its centre.
As the flower passes around the dial, the gemstone in its centre changes from a blue to a yellow sapphire, and then to a ruby each time it passes below the dial or the lotus leaves.
What’s even more fascinating about the animation is the fact that the gemstones appear at random each time the flower disappears and reemerges.
The rest of the watch is simply exquisite, with Jaquet Droz’s “ateliers d’art” department have applied its intricate arts to the dial. Jaquet Droz estimates 210 hours is needed to decorate the dial.
Each lotus leaf is in 18k red gold tat’s engraved and enamelled by hand. The unopened lotus bud at nine o’clock is mother-of-pearl while the lotus flower in full bloom just next to it has its petals carved from mother-of-pearl coated thin coat of translucent paint.
The yellow sapphire in the centre of that flower is set with gold prongs, symbolising the pistil and stamens of a flower in bloom.
The Magic Lotus Automaton is powered by the cal. 2653 AT2. The movement is powered by two barrels, one for the automaton, and the other for the timekeeping with a power reserve of 68 hours.
Each activation of the automaton plays the entire animation for more than four minutes. The rotating disc that simulates the river makes eight revolutions of roughly 30 seconds each, one of the longest animations for a Jaquet Droz automaton.
Pricing and availability
The Jaquet Droz Magic Lotus Automaton is limited to just 28 pieces each in 18k white gold (ref. J032634270) and rose gold (ref. J032633270). Both are priced at 334,000 Singapore dollars, or about US$243,000.
Update May 18, 2019: Image added of caseback.Back to top.
You may also enjoy these.
A million dollar marvel.
Six different timepieces featuring hand-made enamel dials inlaid with intricate gold foil.
Decorated in white mother of pearl on both sides, the ladies' tourbillon features an automatic movement with tourbillon and seven-day power reserve.