Timekeepers Club / May 23, 2019

Antique Jaquet Droz Automaton Clock Fetches Record Price at Antiquorum Auction

An original creation signed “Jaquet-Droz & Leschot” has been sold for over $1 million. This exceptional sale by Antiquorum auction house puts an impressive price on the brand’s heritage.

An authentic creation engraved by the hand of master craftsman Pierre Jaquet-Droz or his son – more often than not in conjunction with their associate Jean-Frédéric Leschot – is an exceedingly rare find. Pieces of this caliber seldom leave the hands of the most discerning collectors, making it difficult to estimate their value.

One such piece was auctioned recently in an extremely rare event that garnered interest from the world’s leading collectors. “L’Oiseau Privé” (The Tamed Bird) went under the hammer on May 11th, 2019. This neo-classical style clock in the form of a perfume bottle stands approximately eight inches high. Most likely one of a kind, it represents the pinnacle of Jaquet-Droz creativity circa 1795. It was sold for 1,025,000 CHF ($1,014,813).

“L’Oiseau Privé” showcases the quintessential craftsmanship of the period, in the decorative arts as well as the art of clockmaking under the groundbreaking influence of Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1721-1790). Considered the father of mechanical automatons (watches, clocks, snuffboxes and humanoids), he also pioneered a horological aesthetic that remains as audacious as ever 280 years after its creation: the Grande Seconde by Jaquet Droz.

Due in part to the incredibly rare nature of this masterpiece of late 18th century mechanical and aesthetic craftsmanship, it sold for an impressive sum. The piece is crafted entirely in gold and incorporates most of the techniques that determine the prestige of a Jaquet Droz creation to this day. A bird animated by a complex automaton movement is positioned to the rear of the clock, emerging on demand from a secret compartment to chirp a melody as it moves its beak and body. The clock's face features the enamel dial that is traditional to Jaquet Droz. Finally the piece showcases a wealth of decorative arts from engraving to painting, paillonné enameling, and pearl setting around the dial –techniques practiced to this day in the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art.

In all these respects, “L’Oiseau Privé” is an exceedingly rare testament to the original spirit of Pierre Jaquet-Droz. His exceptional creativity lives on with the Philosophy of the Unique perpetuated by the brand that bears his name.

“Some watches tell time, some tell a story”


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