Moving To Its Own Rhythm Divine – Hands-on with the new Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton
Editor’s note: This is a Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) review of the new Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton watch. For our detailed reviews, please head to our dedicated review section here. Today’s watch is brought by the grateful assistance of J Farren-Prices. They usually have a range of gorgeous Jaquet Droz watches at the Sydney boutique, and be sure to check it out.
There is a quote by American novelist Richard Bach that goes as follows: “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly”. In the same vein, while the other brands might look at their ever-repeating divers and simply call those their best work, in steps Jaquet Droz showcasing its horological prowess with the animation of a butterfly on a mechanical watch dial.
What is it: The new Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton
Why: Jaquet Droz is one of the few luxury watch brands that hums to its own tune, venturing into unchartered territories and creating unique mechanical marvels. Every year they release a set of very limited edition automaton timepieces that simply seduce by their unique rhythm divine. The 2020 Loving Butterfly version is also special because a part of the proceeds from the sales is going to a commend worthy cause (and more on that in a bit).
When released: Mid-March 2020
Where: Global release, but very limited with only 28-pieces. You can see one in person until November 18 at the Jaquet Droz exhibition held at the J Farren-Price boutique in Sydney at 80 Castlereagh Street
Who is it for: The watch is not really a daily wearable watch, but it’s not meant to be as well. It’s an art piece, something like the Patek Philippe Rare Handcrafts minute repeaters, and given its highly exclusive and high-end look, this one is not to be missed by any serious watch collector.
How does it do: From the use of the 150 million year old Chinchilla red petrified wood in the dial to a mechanical butterfly on a timepiece who’s wings flutter, there’s plenty to marvel at when it comes to new Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton. Jaquet Droz are the pioneers in the business of creating artistic and horological wonders and this release is no different. We recently went hands-on with the Magic Lotus Automaton, and I gotta tell you, the sheer amazement one feels when holding these animated mechanical timepieces is simply of wonderment. In a nutshell, the new Loving Butterfly Automaton is a dream of a watch that features a golden butterfly chariot that is mechanically animated. Haute Horlogerie doesn’t get more poetic than this.
Missing: At 16.63mm, the watches are a bit thick owing to the use of a highly curved sapphire crystal and the 30m (3 ATM) water-resistance could do with an upward nudge.
The new Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton reference J032533275 features the calibre 2653 AT1 which is a mechanical self-winding movement featuring silicon balance spring, pallet horns, double barrel, flat bridges, and a 22-karat red gold oscillating weight.
It beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’800 A/h), comprises of 57 jewels and boasts of a very decent 68-hours power reserve.
The movement is encased inside a 43mm diameter and 16.63mm thick — 0.06mm thinner than last year’s Magic Lotus Automaton — polished 18K red gold case with a water-resistance of only 30m (3 ATM) and an individual limited serial number (No. X/28) engraved on the display case-back. This display case-back shows the highly decorated movement which is a work of art in itself.
In terms of wrist fit, for a big-ish watch it doesn’t sit too awkwardly which is something of a definite plus. The rather understated and simply polished case with downward lug arches and the sloping side profile fits my 16.5cm wrist rather snuggly.
The case also features the hand-wound crown-push button that triggers the mechanism to move the animated chariot wheel and wings. But that’s the same when compared to other Automaton watches; in-fact, the case architecture for the Automation watches usually doesn’t differ very much; it is the dial where most of the magic for this watch occurs.
The dial is made of chinchilla red petrified wood and black onyx with hand-engraved 18-karat red gold appliques. The watch face shows the off-centered hours and minutes at 12’o clock, and a whole lot more. The multiple levels and details on this dial lends the piece a unique three-dimensional feel.
Like the chariot, the butterfly comprises of several dozen stationary and moving appliqués, that have been hand-etched by Jaquet Droz artisan jewelers. Most striking amongst these in terms of finishing are the figures of trees that circumvent part of the dial, that in turn are surrounded by a gold backdrop entirely crafted by hand. Each of these trees spans a mere 0.2 mm and its slender grooves are carved one by one using purpose-designed tools, and is then individually placed in its very own setting.
Artistically, the autumnal hues of the stone blend with the warmth of the 18-carat red gold. The watch is essentially poetry in motion.
The overall look is complemented by the rolled-edge hand-made black alligator strap and an 18-karat red gold folding clasp, though personally, I would have preferred it on a burgundy strap that would have brought out the autumnal hues of the dial.
Now for the hard talk – some might say it’s a handsome timepiece but is the same watch as their earlier Butterfly Automatons; they won’t be incorrect as well. So what’s special about this year’s Butterfly Automaton? It’s a bit more than that generalisation, I am afraid. Let me explain it by borrowing a quote by Maya Angelou, the famous American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist that says “we delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Jaquet Droz debuted this butterfly design back in 2017 and over the years it’s dial has seen the likes of onyx, jade, mother-of-pearl, aventurine, and meteorite. It’s very changing, bringing to the mix exotic and somewhat rare materials into the world of watchmaking. The overall design concept may have had subtle changes at best, but the use of the 150 million years old Chinchilla red petrified wood in this case surely justifies a release, albeit limited.
And if you look at the Butterfly Automation sub-collection as a whole, turns out, there’s a whole lot of aspects that are special. And while all the following features are great on their own, cohesively we found that the new Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton is best defined as a sum of the following parts: the animation, the Aussie connection, and the symbolism.
For starters, one of the standout features is the animation on the dial that is inspired by a drawing titled Le papillon conduit par l’amour (Butterfly Driven by Love), which was sketched in 1774 by The Draughtsman, an automaton created by Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz, son of brand founder Pierre Jaquet-Droz. The fluttering of the butterfly wings is something that needs to be experienced in person.
Our homeland connection
As our readers might be aware, Watch Ya gonna Do About It is an Australian website, and any watch related news that’s got anything to do with Australia, defaults in being closer to our hearts. So it was with both surprise and pleasure when we found out that the Loving Butterfly Chinchilla Red had a very direct connection with our country, in fact, one can say that it’s dial had got Australia to thank for its existence.
The Chinchilla red petrified wood forms the basis of the stunning dials of these timepieces. This wood was petrified between 140-180 million years ago and was formed by fir trees covered in volcanic ash that were swept away by lava. The product is an exceedingly rare and dense mineral. And it is named after the far-eastern locale, right here in Australia. Just for contextual reference, a 150 million years is dinosaur territory. Did we just hear Ross gasp? (Hope we have some F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans reading this).
More of that Aussie connection
Life is not all find and games, sometimes one has to pay attention to issues that matter to the world we are living in. AS a majority of our readers might know, 2019 end to 2020 beginning were the months form hell for Australia as wild fish fires raged through the countryside and vanquished not ink nature bit also a large population of our beloved koalas.
Deeply affected by global deforestation and in particular by the fires that have had a devastating impact on Australia in recent months, Jaquet Droz has announced that part of the sales from the Loving Butterfly Chinchilla Red automaton will be donated to associations dedicated to reforestation and the preservation of endemic species such as “Plant a Tree for Me” or “One Tree Planted”.
As these watches were made possible thanks to Australian wood petrified 150 million years ago, it is only befitting that parts of the proceeds from the sales will go towards reforestation. It is also good to know that the brand has got its heart in the right place.
Another aspect we love about this release is that the watch is full of poetic symbolism.
- The watch is meant to be a metaphor for labours of love
- The chariot symbolises victory and the butterfly represents Cupid
- The butterfly’s wings flutter in time, placed close against the sapphire crystal to make it seem like the butterfly is about to break free and fly out of the scenery
- Even the wheels on the chariot turn, but not all of the spokes rotate, creating an optical illusion
The Loving Butterfly Automaton is one of the most visually striking of this year’s watch releases, and in my opinion gives last year’s Magic Lotus Automaton a serious run for its money. Set in a very Jaquet Droz universe of automated watches and animated dials, this release has a very familiar yet distinctively charming appeal to it and marks a new chapter in Jaquet Droz’s 300-year exploration of natural fibres and honing their watchmaking artistry.
Robert Frost once said, “Butterflies… flowers that fly and all but sing”.
It’s time to let the new Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton fly into your hearts and sing a horological tune so divine that it seduces you with its unique rhythm.
To find out more about the new Jaquet Droz Loving Butterfly Automaton and other Jaquet Droz timepieces, please head to their website here or visit their authorised retailer J Farren-Price at 80 Castlereagh St, Sydney (02 9231 3299). A version of this review was first published on 17th March. All images unless otherwise stated are ©WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt.