Jaquet Droz, a Swiss watchmaker founded in 1738 with a distinguished history, has had a long love affair with nature and animals. Its legendary Bird Repeater features a mechanism that, at the touch of a button, sounds the hours, quarter-hours and minutes with the vibrations of cathedral gongs struck by hammers inside the case, and activates up to eight animations of the birds through the automata.

As an extension to this automaton watch collection, first unveiled in 2012, Jaquet Droz has today released a limited-edition model inspired by a tropical landscape. The Tropical Bird Repeater watch, with only eight pieces available, presents the essence of the brand: its watchmaking and decorative expertise.

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On the mother-of-pearl dial, the three-dimensional scene of flora and fauna has been crafted with hand-carved, hand-engraved and hand-painted elements. In the centre is a hummingbird, given life by the maison’s artists, fluttering its wings at up to 40 times per second as it moves towards a shrub of inhabited by bright orange birds of paradise. According to Jaquet Droz CEO Christian Lattmann, the wings are specifically made with brass instead of rose gold to allow the airy movement. Having to incorporate such delicate parts into a watch and ensuring the needed level of shock resistance at the same time was a challenge, he adds.

As the wearer activates the mechanism, an orchestrated show of movement begins: the hummingbird flutters its wings, the peacock with intense blue feathers to the right fans and closes its tail, while a toucan emerges from the palm leaves at 3 o’clock to open its beak. Three elegant dragonflies located at 9 o’clock dance in the air, and are particularly magical in the dark when their tiny SuperLuminova-coated wings glow.

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Up to four different scenarios are possible with seven animations that can exceed 12 seconds. All that theatre is enclosed in a red gold case adorned on the sides of its lugs and on the middle band with a hand-engraved animal motif.

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The watch is powered by the new Jaquet Droz RMA89 movement equipped with a virtually silent wheel regulator, as the regulation of the minute repeater’s speed is operated by the friction between small outer spring blades. New rack springs, an extended pause between the quarter hours and minutes, and the striking of the quarter hours at major third are also part of the complication. The power reserve has been increased to 60 hours with an oscillating frequency of three hertz.

“Eight” is the maison’s tutelary number, as it also was in its founding year. All the maison’s numerous clausus editions are limited to one, eight, 28 or 88 pieces. And happily, eight is also an auspicious number in mainland China, where this exquisite piece is being showcased at an open event at SKP Beijing today.