It is a glorious celebration of the color green. It is a bird of summer and joy. It is an incredibly detailed and beautiful timepiece from the house of Jaquet Droz. The dreamy Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara Hummingbird showcases technical mastery and a brilliant achievement in the ancestral technique of plique-à-jour enameling which first appeared 1500 years ago and can be compared to a miniature stained-glass window.
The technique, smalta clara in Latin, consists in applying enamel into bottomless molds. First a gold dial with partitions of different shapes and sizes is created and each empty space is filled with different colors of enamel before undergoing several successive firings with each passage giving the enamel its color and density. This motif here is a hummingbird which has been crafted in subtle gradients of green. The Petite Heure Minute is its « canvas » and with its off-centered dial at 2 o’clock, Jaquet Droz gives a large space to the extravagant hummingbird.
The timepiece features an 18-karat white gold dial with plaque-à-jour Grand Feu enamel, white mother-of-pearl with 18-karat white gold hands and it is set with 100 diamonds on the bezel (the outer ring) and lugs. Its 35 mm case is delicately mounted onto a hand-embroidered green satin strap. The timepiece has been brought out in a limited edition of only 8 pieces.
The watch is a wonder of technology and art and craft techniques, much like the hummingbird itself is a wonder of nature. It’s tiny, feisty and seems to be encrusted with jewels.They can fly backward and upside-down, too, and are the only vertebrates capable of sustained hovering — remaining in place during flight. The smallest of birds they lay tiny, pea-sized eggs in nests made of spider web and plant material, and possibly thread from your shirt if you have ever had the joy of a hummingbird hovering in front of you to collect fibers from you for their nest. The female hummingbird raises its children alone.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette