Watches: Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Year of the Horse Timepieces

By Thierry Ané on December 17, 2013

“Les Ateliers d’Art” is the collection that best captures the aesthetic know-how of Jaquet Droz. Miniature painting, engraving and enamelling, but also gem-setting are the decorative techniques in the service of the brand’s artisans to express all their creativity and aesthetic sense.

When you have such talented individuals in your manufacture, you don’t miss an opportunity to let them shine through their work. The arrival of the Year of the Horse in the Chinese calendar was thus too good an occasion to miss! Like Vacheron ConstantinWatches: Vacheron Constantin The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac - Year of the Horse and ChopardWatches: Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi Horse, Jaquet Droz thus pays homage to the seventh sign of the Chinese zodiac with the introduction of three different but artistically complementary timepieces.

Petite Heure Minute Horses

The first timepiece of this trio, the Petite Heure Minute Horses, showcases the beauty of miniature painting. On the ivory enamel dial of this 39 mm red gold watch, two Arab thoroughbreds run in full gallop in the meadow. Every detail from their shadow on the ground to the dust raised by the horse hooves are perfectly captured by the painter and create a lively and realistic scene.

Petite Heure Minute Relief with Black Enamel

The second watch, the Petite Heure Minute Relief Horse, features a more generous 43 mm case also made of red gold. Its Grand Feu enamelled dial is now entirely black apart from the hand-painted Roman numerals and minute chapter. It showcases a red gold bas-relief of a sculptural mustang from the American Northwest. The gloomy black of the enamel dial and of the alligator strap provides a striking contrast with the warmth of the red gold case and horse appliqué. It gives a mysterious and almost wild feel to the timepiece.

Petite Heure Minute Relief Horse Great Wall of China

The last piece, the Petite Heure Minute Relief Horse Great Wall of China, is probably the most theatrical of the trio. In an intermediate 41 mm red gold case the watch presents a hand-engraved mother-of-pearl dial with a depiction of the Great Wall of China. In the foreground lies a red gold appliqué of a horse rearing up on its hind legs.

To my knowledge, all the timepieces of the Ateliers d’Art collection use a “Petite Heure Minute” configuration that is a small off-centred dial indicating the time by two hands at 12 o’clock. This leaves a large surface on the dial for the decorative techniques. These three timepieces are no exception to the rule. They are powered by the self-winding 2653 calibre offering 68 hours of power reserve.

The left-side image above shows the white gold rotor of the first two models. It is engraved with a horse head. The Petite Heure Minute Relief Horse Great Wall of China is equipped with a more sophisticated rotor. Indeed, it is crafted in red gold like the case with a white mother-of-pearl centre bearing the two Jaquet Droz signature stars in red gold. On top of it sits a meticulously engraved red gold appliqué of the Great Wall of China, as you can observe on the right-hand side image. All three models are limited to 88 pieces and are fitted with a brown or black alligator strap secured by a red gold pin buckle.