With historic links to China that date back several centuries, the Swiss watchmaker now unveils its first showcase in the capital of the People’s Republic.
It is no accident that Jaquet Droz and China enjoy such a long-standing association. For almost three hundred years now, the brand known by its twin stars has maintained close ties with the kingdom of the Mandarins, drawn together as much by mutual fascination as by exceptional cultural exchanges.
While the royal courts of Europe were captivated by all things Oriental at the height of the Enlightenment, Jaquet Droz was the first watchmaker to present his creations inside the Forbidden City. The master from La Chaux-de-Fonds naturally brought watches, but also delighted the Qianlong Emperor and his courtiers with specialties like ornate snuff boxes, songbirds and other automata, laying the foundations for a dialogue that continues to this day. Some of these historic pieces are still carefully preserved in the Forbidden City’s Palace Museum, a testament to this fabulous saga.
The opening of the first Beijing boutique constitutes its latest chapter. On May 14, 2015, the Oriental Plaza—high temple of Chinese luxury shopping—saw Jaquet Droz unveil the clean, angular lines of its new boutique, where shades of slate harmonize with lustrous metal in a minimalist backdrop designed to enhance the elegant curves of Jaquet Droz timepieces. All the latest designs will be shown, including the Lady 8 Flower, the Grande Seconde Deadbeat and the Petite Heure Minute, like so many works of art displayed in generous glass cases under carefully considered lighting.
Hence, this May was a particularly significant month for Jaquet Droz. It was natural that the grande complication watch Charming Bird—a true masterpiece uniting all the brand’s watchmaking and decorative know-how—should alight in Beijing on May 27 before an audience of connoisseurs, watch-lovers and celebrities who admired both versions, the red gold and the white gold, each produced in a limited edition of 28. Wonder, history, craftsmanship, beauty—several centuries have passed since Jaquet Droz and China first encountered each other, yet the emotion endures.