The Good Life

An Ode To Life

With storytelling at its heart, the Magic Lotus Automaton invites meditation and contemplation in an animated Zen garden

Published 5 years ago on Dec 15, 2019 4 minutes Read

The eternal cycle of life is a millennia-old concept that is part of the traditions of Asia, ancient Greece and the all major monotheistic faiths. Rebirth and reincarnation are experienced in the everyday, in the continuous movement through the seasons that is made possible by the movements of the earth, moon and sun. It is this perpetual movement that Jaquet Droz has chosen to represent with a lotus in its new automaton.

Some watches tell time. Some tell a story. An ode to life and perpetual new beginnings, the Magic Lotus Automaton is a watch that has storytelling at its heart and is an unprecedented animation for Jaquet Droz. A new development that was designed and assembled in-house, this automaton features an exceptionally long animation that runs to more than four minutes. In this time, a naturalist fresco unfolds with all the grace and serene beauty of a Zen garden. Four flowers represent the four seasons or, for some, the stages of a life.

Flower power

A mother-of-pearl button at 3 o’clock symbolises the unopened lotus bud. In relief upon a corolla of gold petals, it evokes the first season: spring. To its left, a lotus flower in full bloom symbolises summer. This simple miniature incorporates a number of Jaquet Droz decorative techniques. The petals are carved from mother-of-pearl, and finished with a thin coat of translucent paint that accentuates the relief. At its heart, a yellow sapphire with gold prongs represents the pistil and stamens, poised to fly away and give life in turn to new lotus flowers. By its side, a lotus flower fallen onto the water represents the third season, fall, carried away by the current. Finally, winter is marked at 6 o’clock by the seed pod of the aquatic plant. In this season, the pod sinks to the bottom of the water to be naturally buried, thus protecting the precious seeds that will foster new lotus flowers the following spring. Jaquet Droz has set the pod with seven diamonds that represent the seeds — visible symbols of the life glittering within.

Animatedly yours

This naturalist scene, true to the legacy established by Pierre Jaquet-Droz more than 280 years ago, is part of a circular animation. The dial of the Magic Lotus Automaton comprises three sections. The first is immobile: the onyx watch dial with gold hour and minute hands. 

This composition of four seasons is suspended above the third peripheral disk, which fully rotates. It represents the perpetual movement of the water, the perfection of the circle, and the continuous return to life. Bobbing gold water lilies reveal the eddies of the water. This mobile disk houses two utterly exceptional animations. The first is a Koi, a fish famed for its longevity and a symbol of courage and perseverance. In an animation of extreme miniaturisation by Jaquet Droz, it moves in the water in two different ways. Hand-carved in gold by the brand’s master craftsmen, the Koi is complemented by the floating lotus animation. Mother-of-pearl petals surround an unprecedented movement at the heart of the lotus: each time it passes beneath the dial or leaves, it acquires a new stone — alternately blue sapphire, yellow sapphire and ruby. The same stone never appears in the same place from one rotation to the next. The colour of the lotus heart changes, invisibly, four times for every rotation around the river, and the same stone is never seen twice in a row. 

Turning over the timepiece, the bridges and oscillating weight are hand-engraved with exclusive naturalist motifs, with carp and lotus flowers echoing the carvings on the dial side. The non-engraved elements on the movement are also decorated (circular graining, drawn strokes) and chamfered by hand. This new automaton is the subject of four patents pending, and features the most sophisticated dial ever produced by Jaquet Droz. The movement contains more than 500 components, and the development phase alone took over three years. As a result, the Magic Lotus Automaton can present on demand an animation lasting more than four minutes, with eight full rotations of 30 seconds each. A power reserve between 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock depicts the progress of this lengthy animation, as symbolised by a hand-painted and hand-carved dragonfly in red gold. It moves downward with the power reserve of the animation, which can be fully wound by the crown. When the power reserve is empty, the dragonfly rests on a lotus leaf, ready to soar once again over this exquisitely luxurious Zen river in a perpetual cycle of new beginnings, symbolic of a new chapter in the history of Jaquet Droz.