back to top

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Jaquet Droz is among the most unique of the Swatch Group's high-end brands, known for their excellence in traditional decoration methods as well as their use of automata, or moving mechanical devices meant to imitate life. The Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater is the latest creation of mechanical artistry from the La Chaux-de-Fonds manufacture, celebrating the Enlightenment-era passion for nature and animals of brand founder and namesake Pierre Jaquet-Droz.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Pierre Jaquet-Droz opened his first workshop in 1738, and within a few decades had become known internationally as a master of elaborate pocket watches, mechanical singing birds, and automata. In 1759, Droz presented a mechanical clock to King Ferdinand VI of Spain, featuring a shepherd playing the flute and a dog guarding a basket of apples. When the King reached forward to take one of the apples, the mechanical dog began barking with such a natural sound that the King's own dog began barking in response, and most of the courtiers fled the room fearing witchcraft.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

After Droz proved that the mechanism worked via natural means and was not the result of sorcery, the King paid handsomely for the "Shepherd's Clock" which is still on display in the Spanish palace museum. The fame and funding from this venture led Droz to produce ever more astonishing works of automata, such as The Writer. In many ways, these were precursors to modern computers, and a testament to the astonishing engineering skill of Droz for his time.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Despite his fame and ability, Droz's workshop went into liquidation in 1790 when drafts made on their principal correspondent in China came back unpaid and their principal client in London failed. In 2000, the Swatch Group acquired the brand and re-established Jaquet Droz in their town of origin, La Chaux-de-Fonds. Since then, the brand has been paying tribute to the skills and passions of the founder, releasing the first Bird Repeater in 2012 (revisited hands-on here) and perfecting it further with the Charming Bird watch in 2015 (hands-on). The latest Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater combines two of this maison's eight "codes" or primary disciplines, automata and Ateliers d’Art, or the decorative arts.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

The dial on the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater is made of mother of pearl, hand-engraved and painted to depict a lush forest scene. When the minute repeater function is activated, there are seven animated elements on the dial which spring to life:

  • The waterfall in the background appears to flow.
  • The hummingbird occupying the centre of the dial moves towards the shrub of bright orange birds of paradise near 9 o'clock and beats its wings up to 40 times per second.
  • The peacock at 5 o'clock opens and closes its tail feathers.
  • The toucan near 3 o'clock emerges from the palm leaves and can open and close its beak.
  • Three dragonflies near 9 o'clock flit around and flap tiny Super-Luminova coated wings, which should look particularly attractive in low light.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

The animations can exceed 12 seconds and play out four different scenarios, which is a serious level of automation to pack into a 47mm-wide by 18.95mm-thick wristwatch case. Every element on this dial is decorated by hand, with an off-centre subdial in onyx near 12 o'clock to indicate hours and minutes.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

The case of the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater is made of 18 karat red gold and features yet more hand-applied engraving along the sides and lugs. It comes supplied with a rolled-edge dark green alligator strap which nicely matches the flora in the depicted scene. The watch is not water-resistant, though I don't imagine many owners will attempt to shower or swim with one of these on anyway.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Visible through the sapphire exhibition caseback is the Jaquet Droz RMA89 hand-wound minute repeater movement with a single barrel which offers a 60-hour power reserve. That power reserve is up from the RMA88's 48 hours used in previous Bird Repeater watches, and we will assume that maximum power reserve refers to use of the watch without running its massively complex and undoubtedly power-consuming chiming and automata mechanisms - the hummingbird's wings beating 40 times per second is faster than some larger species of real hummingbirds.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

Like every other element of the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater, this movement is meticulously hand-decorated, with Côtes de Genève, perlage on the base plate, and polished surfaces. Fantastic to admire in and of itself, some past Bird Repeater watches went even more next-level by engraving the movement with, for example, leaf motifs (see the above linked-to Bird Repeater article) that feel even more congruous with the overall watch than this traditional finishing. The movement features 86 jewels and a balance spring which oscillates at 21,600 vph, or 3Hz. A clef symbol etched into a spur of red gold just underneath the striking hammers refers to the musical nature of the movement.

Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater Watch Watch Releases

While none of the whimsical high complications expressed in this watch represent any sort of a gain in utility for the wearer, that was never the point, of course. Jaquet Droz is not the only manufacturer offering automata in wristwatch form, with other recent examples including the Van Cleef & Arpels Ronde Des Papillons and the Ulysse Nardin Hourstriker Pin-Up, but Jaquet Droz really goes the extra mile in terms of its decorative arts and complexity of the automata. Only 8 pieces of the Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater watch are being produced, with an asking price of $661,500 each.

About the Author

What do you think?
  • I love it! (37)
  • Thumbs up (16)
  • I want it! (12)
  • Interesting (9)
  • Classy (7)
Next Post Vertex M100 Watch Review 3 monthsago byAriel Adams



Disqus Debug thread_id: 6242254709

  • IanE

    A truly sumptuous, amazing and exquisite toy for the super-rich who have money to burn and for the rest of us to gawk at! What a mix of whimsy, wonder and staggering craftsmanship – ultimately pointless, perhaps, but so is most of life!

  • DanW94

    Perfect daily beater…

    • Naw, as a beater I’d only use it for changing the oil and shovel work in the yard. Changing the litter box is more of an Jacob & Co Astronimia sort of activity. For black tie affairs I’d go with Invicta Reserve.

      On a more serious note, this sure makes the cheaper Bell & Ross sapphire cased tourbillon look very over-priced. I’ve seen a previous generation (Charming Bird) JD repeater at BaselWorld and it really is outstanding that they can achieve this level of automation in such a small form factor. While the Charming Bird has less automation than this watch, it made bird calls. Impressive toys but the servicing costs must be frightening.

  • PollyO

    I’m the first to decry the massive overpricing of some high end watch brands….but f**k me….that’s a pretty damn beautiful watch. It’s making me feel guilty about thinking $600K is almost about right!!

  • Framlucasse

    “When the minute repeater function is activated, there are seven animated elements on the dial which spring to life”.

    I’d love to see a video. Wonderfull piece indeed.

  • Sdiggle

    I’m guessing a video might better illustrate the automata on this watch?? Content, content, content!!!

    • Raymond Wilkie

      I can’t find a video anywhere, which is really annoying. Would love to see it move and hear it.

    • Tea Hound

      We need a video!

  • Marius

    Put a Bamford blacked-out Popeye dial; a Rubber B strap; and throw in a Brüggler Customizable Chronograph, and I’m all in.

    • Tea Hound

      The first rule of Rubber B straps is that no-one comments on Rubber B straps.

      • Pete Pete

        rubber b – the world’s finest rubber straps which are so fine indeed, that any criticism is simply unthinkable (check out the comment section of our sponsored posts on abtw if you don’t believe it)™

  • Timestandsstill

    Astonishing….I’m glad pieces like this exist. This is SO much easier to appreciate (and justify the price) than most of the “timepieces” in the 6 figure (plus) price range (like sapphire encased tourbillions, beat up old steel chronograph,etc.)

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I would die happy with this on, just give me half an hour and then my soul is yours.

    • But what would anyone do with your soul?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I don’t know, maybe trade it in for a Tag Monaco.

  • SuperStrapper

    How could anyone not love this. It is all of the reason why watches are and can be amazing.

    I was checkin out them macros like

    • Mr. Snrub

      Too much want.


    I am not into peacocks and hummingbirds but this is really really impressive.

  • egznyc

    It’s beautiful but not in the way that I typically expect and appreciate from a watch. Except for the back view. ;-). The front is not my style but it’s still quite impressive.

    There is something amusing about a minute repeater having such an exquisite dial, since a minute repeater was originally designed to tell the time without the benefit of light. Here it is really more of an excuse to make the automata do their thing.

  • Jonathan Smith

    looks frankly amazing, great attention to detail and visually very appealing

  • Bozzor

    This is the type of watch you would buy and place it in a glass case on your desk, just to appreciate the perfect marriage of art and engineering. It seems like this watch is simply too beautiful, too magnificent to be sullied by contact with filthy human skin…We Are Not Worthy.

  • Steve Kosovich

    The hand painting is phenomenal and so beautiful Ah! To be rich !

  • Tea Hound

    40 times per second for the hummingbird wings? Really?? I know it says just that on the JD website but that seems absolutely astonishing if it’s actually correct.

    But then again, the whole watch is absolutely astonishing – so it probably is correct…

  • Omegaboy

    What, no skulls, no blood or bullets? This can’t be art!


  • Magnificent work! Finally, a watch that might actually be worth its asking price……

  • frauss

    No fucking way!

  • Shinytoys

    Gorgeous…completely worth it…it’s a masterpiece.

  • kramdrallim

    Yeah I gotta admit,I’d be tempted to try an f**k an angry Taipan with a festered &$$ , for one night with this watch on my missus ‘s wrist in front of her crowd of bickering upemselves friends…

    • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

      speak english…dammit!

      • kramdrallim

        Sorry TDBTW, I’ll rephrase it for you;
        I will admit that I could be easily led into attempting unspeakable acts of depravity with a live,agitated and disease riddled Australian Western Desert Taipan (possibly the worlds angriest and most seriously toxic snake), if my wife could wear this superb bauble of extravagance for one night , in front of her bickering, up themselves, born with a silver spoon in their mouth colleagues. I do apologize for writing in Austrayan but I can’t promise it won’t happen again ?

  • Marius

    I have, on reflection, rather mixed feelings about this watch and indeed the modern Jaquet Droz. Firstly, this is not Jaquet Droz in any material sense; that company died 200 years ago. It is a modern company that shares the name and which produces pieces that are an homage to the original JD.

    Secondly, if Pierre Jaquet Droz was reborn today, would he be making mechanical watches? No, he would be doing something remarkable with cutting edge technology. He was a bona fide genius, the staff of Jaquet Droz 2017 simply craftsman.

    Of course being an exquisite craftsman (or woman) is not something to be sneered at, quite the opposite. Producing beautiful things is worthwhile; we who can never afford them can still gain benefit.

    And the leopard looks a bit misshapen…

    • kramdrallim

      Yeah, all valid points. But,… I’ll forgive the Leopard for being misshapen simply because the whole thing is a great attempt at being what it is meant to be. As for resurrected brand names, it hasn’t hurt MV Augusta or Norton or Triumph……..

  • benjameshodges

    That’s incredible. Blown away by the hand-made art anyway but that fact it animates is just superb.

  • Mr. Snrub

    To quote my old man: sometimes I wish I was born rich instead of good-looking

  • #The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Stunningly beautiful.

    Has everything but a signifying monkey.

  • Pete L

    Spectacular feat of craftsmanship. Love it.

  • JLG

    really superb. however it is not a watch. you could remove time keeping functions from it and it would still be superb as an object. loved it as a piece of art. a lot less as a watch.

  • Ulysses31

    A work of pure art. Few watches appear worth the money but this certainly sells itself better than most in terms of the amount of craftsmanship and artistry on show.

  • Chuck

    I love it, but who’s got that much money to spend on a watch?