To celebrate their long history and intimate connection to China’s culture, Jaquet-Droz is releasing four, special-edition timepieces for the Chinese New Year. The brand is said to be the first watchmaker allowed in the Forbidden City and in the 1770s, Qianlong, the fifth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, and his courtiers bought and collected Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s hand-crafted timepieces. Enamored by the mechanical clocks and automata of the western brand, the emperor allowed them to continue sales in China and they have been importing their luxury timepieces from Europe ever since.
This is the year of the Fire Monkey which symbolizes ambition, intelligence and long life. Reflecting on these traits, Jaquet-Droz was inspired by the Chinese legend of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, who is a prominent figure in Chinese literature and folklore. Legend says that the brilliant Wukong was chosen to guard over the Garden of Celestial Peaches, but instead ate the sacred fruit to gain their power of immortality. In both models of the new watch, a golden monkey is found in a peach garden, symbolizing Wukong’s moment of curiosity and defiance.
Based on the framework of the brand’s Petite Heure Minute, two new models have been designed with two different versions each. The first, the Petite Heure Minute Monkey, is housed within a red gold case with an off-center dial positioned at 12 o’clock. On the face, a monkey is depicted leaping from one tree to the next, captured in enamel on a cream-colored background. The second watch, the Petite Heure Minute Relief Monkey, displays the figure of a monkey, sculpted from gold and perched in the branches of a peach tree. The face is adorned in mother-of-pearl and diamonds surrounded by a gold and diamond frame.
Both pieces have red gold versions available to symbolize wisdom and long life, and an oscillating monkey eating a peach on the back casing mirrors this sentiment. Available in 35 or 39 mm diameters, the watches all boast a 68-hour power reserve and Jaquet-Droz’s 2653 self-winding mechanical movement. Only 28 pieces are being made for each of the four versions and they are engraved with their limited-edition number on the back.