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Jaquet Droz’s Falcon Bird Repeater takes flight

As the automaton specialist introduces the 1/1 UAE tribute timepiece, CEO Christian Lattmann on why it’s important to make watches with wow factor

Our senior designer must push the technicians. We don’t just want to stay with what we know already, we want to push the boundaries.

Automaton watches caused gasps of wonder in the late 1700s with their moving parts. The master of these technical masterpieces was Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz who, in 1775, made one for his wife. Called the Loving Butterfly, it featured a cherub riding in a chariot being pulled by a butterfly.

Today, the brand continues the legacy of automatons with its Bird Repeater series, the latest of which is the one-of-a-kind Falcon — a tribute to the UAE. Jaquet Droz CEO Christian Lattmann tells Debonair why it’s important to make watches with wow factor:

The construction of a watch is not a one-man show. Designer, artist, craftsman, painter, enameller, technician — all must work together with a team spirit. It’s exactly like a football team: each person must be in their best position. Also, we have to respect the ego of each one and try to have everyone at the same level.

The idea for the Falcon Repeater watch started when I spoke to our team in Dubai. They told me there is a long tradition of falconry in the UAE and it might be a good idea to create a watch about that. It’s enriching for us to talk to local people on the ground — it’s research.

Most of our bird watches are poetic but this is one is about tradition. It’s also about the universal values of family. With the Bedouin father and son on the dial, there’s an emotional and sentimental aspect to it.

Our senior designer must push the technicians. We don’t just want to stay with what we know already, we want to push the boundaries.

Christian Lattmann.

If you laugh when you see the falcons move, that’s great — it’s natural emotion that can’t be stopped. What we try to do at Jaquet Droz is astonish. Emotion comes from the word “move”, so it can be laughter or tears or someone saying “wow”. In one second you become a child again. You’re not thinking about religion, economics or family — it’s pure emotion.

People see the watch and want to film it with their phones, but I say stop, wait. Take a few seconds to look at it with your own eyes and listen to your heart. It’s art. That’s not marketing language. It really is art.

To create this kind of astonishment is like a drug for me. When you see someone saying “wow” at one of your watches, you want to create that feeling all the time.

The 47mm Falcon Bird Repeater has a white gold case and is painted entirely by hand.

When I first saw the watch I was very emotional. But I get emotional and proud when I see all our watches, I’m naturally an emotional guy. I often go to the workshop to see the components being put together, but it’s impossible to know what the final result will be.

This watch has two goals. Firstly, to be a talking point. It is our ambassador. It’s everything to do with Jaquet Droz. It helps us to tell the story of our brand. And secondly, obviously, we want to sell it.

In 2019 we will make another automaton watch that will be on another level. In terms of craftsmanship it will be amazing. I’ll give you a hint: it will look at our past values but it’ll be very contemporary. It’s a watch that’s philosophical about the cycle of life.

The minute repeater can chime the hours, quarter-hours and minutes.

We don’t have enough archive material about our brand. Jaquet Droz the brand was sleeping for many years and so the archives are in different places. Last year a history student at university made a study of the man Pierre Jaquet-Droz and we are going to write a book based on that research.

If Pierre Jaquet-Droz was sitting here now I wouldn’t talk to him about watchmaking, actually. I’d ask him about his health. He died 18 months after his son, very sad. That’s why the company stopped.

The weakness of our brand is awareness. Not enough people know the name Jaquet Droz. Every year we grow and that allows us to have more marketing budget to communicate about the brand. But it’s still a very exclusive, niche brand and I think it needs to be more well known around the world. Every new watch helps us to do that.

Ultimately, the Jaquet Droz brand is about beauty. Always beauty. It’s simple, but it’s true.

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