Jaquet Droz is one of the only watchmakers in the world that crafts automatons. Quick on the heels of the onyx and meteorite models, today it unveils the latest version of its Loving Butterfly Automaton. The animated objet d’art limited to 28 timepieces 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. Today, it is transformed into a three-dimensional journey of ancient mineral. Set against a backdrop of a forest of gold, the piece features a dial made from wood petrified 140-180 million years ago called Chinchilla Red, named after the far-eastern locale in Australia where it is found. It was formed by fir trees covered in volcanic ash that were swept away by lava. The product is an exceedingly rare and dense mineral. It takes countless hours of manual work just to make the surface smooth.
The artful watch complication breathes life into an animated nature scene. The butterfly’s wings flutter in time, placed close against the sapphire crystal to make it seem like the butterfly is about to breakfree and fly out of the scenery. Even the wheels on the chariot turn, but not all of the spokes rotate, which creates an optical illusion that Pierre Jaquet-Droz began using nearly three centuries ago. The figures are surrounded by a gold backdrop entirely crafted by hand. Each tree spans a mere 0.2mm – its slender grooves carved one by one using purpose-designed tools– and is individually placed in its very own setting.
Deeply affected by global deforestation and in particular by the fires that have devastated 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”.