Minerals are among the treasures of the Earth and the house of Jaquet Droz has a way of bringing them to exuberant life. The house of Swiss watchmaking has perfected the highly precise and difficult art of fashioning mineral dials. The results are exceedingly exclusive timepieces brought out as a unique piece or in very limited editions. Jaquet Droz works its dials in onyx, jade, serpentine, jasper, petrified wood, meteorite and opal. No two pieces are ever alike.
The rare minerals are selected from the four corners of the globe and then brought to Switzerland where the difficult and delicate cutting process begins. The most spectacular sections of the materials are used then polished by hand and sliced into disks. Every dial is polished once again and tiny openings for the hands, apertures and appliqués are drilled. The craftsman, using his own instruments, must then pare down each dial until it is only 0.8mm thick. Then the adornments are precisely placed in the dial, the gold hands, the round bands, the appliqués and the moving parts for automatons, another specialty of the house.
The house, which has been manufacturing watches since 1738, recently unveiled a pair of unique timepieces sublimating one of the world’s most mesmerizing minerals: opal. The Opal Loving Butterfly Automatons have been brought out in a red gold case and a white gold case. The fascinating mineral emerges onto the wrist in a ballet of blue, green, yellow and pink crystals. The red gold version, a unique piece, has a dial of onyx and opal with hand-engraved 18-karat red gold appliqués and an 18-karat red gold case. The white gold version, also a unique piece, features a dial in opal and white mother-of-pearl, with hand-engraved 18-karat white gold appliqués and an 18-karat white gold case. Both timepieces are outfitted with a hand wound mechanical movement that triggers the mechanism that moves the butterfly’s wings and the wheel of the chariot. The watches are equipped with a self-winding movement and a power reserve of 68 hours.
The striking rainbow of blue, green, red, pink and yellow colors in the opal is caused by the reflexion and the scattering of light from tiny silica spheres inside the mineral.These color swirls are distinct from the background color of the opal which can be clear, white, gray or black the most precious form of opal.
©The Gourmet Gazette