Jaquet Droz honours the dragon

The dragon is an animal with historic links to the watchmaking brand. The Atelier’s founder was one of the earliest official suppliers to the Imperial Court of China, 280 years ago. Today, Jaquet Droz still regularly explores the symbolism of the dragon in collaboration with John Howe, conceptual designer for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

The Imperial Dragon Automaton Red Gold – Cuprite embodies this narrative continuity. It is a modern piece, powerful and unique. It captures the past with both deference and creativity. Respectful yet audacious.

Its dial is made from cuprite, a stone symbolising strength, energy and vitality, with its bright red colour representing the dragon’s characteristic fire. However, not many people are aware that the dragon is also associated with rain, which is why the artisans of the Manufacture have surrounded its head and tail with clouds painted in shades of gold and ochre. This dragon features all of the distinguishing traits from Chinese culture: two moustache tendrils pointing upwards, a full beard, gently rounded teeth – the dragon was not necessarily menacing, often representing a benevolent force. Each scale on its body is hand-shaped and hand-patinated. Its toes and claws are disturbingly life-like, which is only accentuated by the movements they make.

At 6 o’clock, the animal grasps a ball of red jasper, chosen for its properties of attracting success and abundance, as well as protecting and promoting openness to the world. On it, the artisans have trapped fragments of gold dust beneath a layer of transparent varnish. To showcase the animation, discreet openings cut into the dial above the ball and at three o’clock enable partial glimpses of the magic – created by 19 moving parts in total – bringing the nine different animations on the piece to life. These include the undulating of the sacred animal’s spine, the opening and closing of its jaw and eye, the movement of its tongue, the raising and lowering of its crest, along with its claws grasping the jasper, which also rotates constantly. The sequence of the animation changes each time it is activated, to retain the magic and mystery for its one and only future collector.

February 22, 2024