Opened about a year ago on Post Street in what can be easily called the luxury and watch district of San Francisco, the Tourbillon Boutique is the Swatch Group’s flagship store in the Bay Area and in Silicon Valley. In no time, the staff there has already organized various excursions for watch lovers, such as watching the Omega-sponsored Kiwi boat take on Oracle’s Team America for this year’s America’s Cup competition. While the Omega America’s Cup events were associated with a media frenzy and blitz that you can and should expect for a worldwide competition, the event I want to mention here is the opposite. A special, intimate, exclusive evening with Jaquet-Droz. Another one of the Swatch Group’s sub-brands with a long history and tradition making some of the finest and most poetic timepieces available today.
While I was not very familiar with the brand I jumped at the opportunity, as I am local and I recalled the fascinating post that Ariel did last year about the brand’s history in creating various automatons (mechanical computers) that predates Babbage’s mechanical computer and were used to charm the European royalty in the 18th century. As is common for such events, once I arrived at the boutique, the evening started with a champagne reception and hors d’oeuvres. However, the star of the welcome reception was getting to watch Heidi work on a Jaquet-Droz (JD) hand-painted enamel dial. Bending over a microscope, the artist of the evening was painfully working the lines of an opal white dial that included two Bengal tigers. Interrupted a few times by the other JD employees, she would smile and allow some of the guests (including me) to watch through the viewfinder and admire the details of her painting. Little did we know that tables were being set with dials and paints so we could each have a go at playing artist for the night.
Before the fun started, a JD spokeswoman gave us a gentle introduction to the brand with some videos showing the latest watches and automatons that JD is pioneering. In particular, we could see the JD founder’s fascination with birds that have led to the creation of a unique watch with a bird on the dial that sings at the hour. This was released this year at Baselworld which Ariel covered in detail here. Other watches mentioned are the sporty annual calendar with the classic JD figure eight dial and various other modern releases.