By Rebecca Doulton
When ladies' watches dance to the music of complications, the effects are magical. They are a grown-up treat comparable to the thrill a child might experience upon opening a music box enclosing a tiny ballerina pirouetting in circles.
The Swiss brand Jaquet Droz is a master of automaton: complex, miniaturised mechanical devices that trigger movement on the dial, like the nesting blue birds feeding their chicks in the wonderful Bird Repeater watch. The original Jaquet Droz, whose name was Pierre Jaquet Droz, became famous in the mid 18th century for his incredible automata with singing birds and other moving flights of fancy to entertain the royal courts of Europe.
At Baselworld 2015, Jaquet Droz adopted the iconic figure eight framework of its Lady 8 watch and nestled a gorgeous lotus flower in the upper circle. In the lower, larger circle, a red-winged butterfly crafted from translucent enamel on a gold guilloché background spreads its wings, surrounded by a diamond-set bezel. The magical moment occurs when the pusher on the side of the case is depressed and the gold bud opens to reveal a six-petalled pink lotus flower with a diamond heart. Protected by a sapphire crystal dome, the lotus petals have been individually enamelled.
The craftsmanship is extraordinary and the watchmaking skills necessary to fit a mechanical watch movement and an automaton within a 35mm case would make any Lilliputian watchmaker proud. The red gold case and dial on these ladies' watches are adorned with a total of 135 diamonds and a briolette diamond in the crown. Two versions of these Jaquet Droz watches exist, each limited to just eight pieces.
Debuting this year at Baselworld, Fabergé decided to pull out all the stops with its Lady Compliquée collection of ladies' watches and solicit the skills of master watchmaker Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor. Two beautiful and highly complicated mechanical Fabergé watches, Peacock and Winter, are the first to grace the collection and pay homage to the famous Fabergé Peacock Egg of 1908 and the Winter Egg of 1913.
These Fabergé watches literally paint a mobile landscape as the peacock splays its tail and the icicles coat the dial with their frosty hoar. The sculpted gold Peacock is endowed with five majestic feathers that fan out every 60 minutes and make the white mother-of-pearl rotating hour disc advance. They fold up again on the hour revealing more of the wonderful background of intense coloured gemstones, including green tsavorites, diamonds and Paraiba tourmalines, which pavé the dial.
The Winter watch recreates the crackly frost of Russia's longest season. Like the Peacock, blades of frost fan out across the mother-of-pearl mosaic dial. The unfolding fan of frost, complete with a blue enamel sky background, covers the dial on the hour and retreats again to reveal the cracked ice, filled in the centre with five diamonds. Both ladies' watches come in a 38mm platinum case and are fitted with an Agenhor hand-wound movement with a power reserve of 50 hours. The case flange of both watches has been set with 54 brilliant-cut diamonds.
Fabergé made its Baselworld debut with the Peacock watch from its new Lady Compliquée collection. The sculpted gold Peacock is endowed with five feathers that fan out every 60 minutes and make the white mother-of-pearl rotating hour disc advance.
Both timepieces in Fabergé's new Lady Compliquée collection feature specially designed movements by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor. The 38mm platinum case houses the extremely complex hand-wound movement, which gives life to the retrograde minutes, the animated peacock and the rotating hour disc.
Fabergé's Winter watch, from its new Lady Compliquée collection, pays homage to the famous Fabergé Winter Egg of 1913. The unfolding fan of frost, complete with a blue enamel sky background, covers the dial on the hour and retreats again to reveal the cracked ice, filled in the centre with five diamonds.
The Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Flower watch comes in a 35mm red gold case with 189ct of diamonds. On the caseback a series of windows reveal the highly complex mechanism, which manages to fit an automaton for the lotus flower and a movement for the hours and minutes. Limited edition of eight watches.
Jaquet Droz has adopted the iconic figure eight framework of its Lady 8 watch and nestled a gorgeous lotus flower in the upper circle. In the lower, larger circle, a red-winged butterfly crafted from translucent enamel on a gold guilloché background spreads its wings surrounded by a diamond-set bezel.
Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Flower watch features an in-built automaton device. By activating the pusher on the side of the case, the lotus flower magically opens its petals.
Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Flower watch featuring an automaton in the movement that allows the lotus flower to open and close.