Brand Directory: Jaquet Droz

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1738: Pierre Jaquet-Droz opened his watchmaking workshop in La Chaux-de-Fonds. His reputation soon spread beyond Swiss borders. A journey to Spain to promote his work in 1758 made him wealthy so that he was able to make androids, a human-looking automaton. Assisted by his son, Henri-Louis, and his adoptive son, Jean-Frédéric Leschot, they made four automata: The Draftsman, The Writer, The Musician and The Grotto. Jaquet-Droz displayed his automata in capital cities and at royal courts around Europe, where crowd were fascinated and perplexed. Building on his success, Pierre Jaquet-Droz opened a workshop in London in 1775 where he could benefit from the city's trading links with the Far East, China in particular. A third branch of the firm was acquired in Geneva, in 1784. Financial problems, and the death of Pierre (1790) then Henri-Louis (1791) marked the end of their business.

The modern Jaquet Droz story began in 1989 when Investcorp, a Saudi-English company that already owned Breguet, Chaumet and Ebel, bought the rights to the Jaquet Droz brand name. The Jaquet-Droz brand was re-launched at Basel Fair in 1993. This brand, funded by Investcorp, was unrelated to either former concern. François Bodet and Yves Scherrer, formerly of Breguet Group, acquired the rights in 1995 and began producing replicas of Jaquet-Droz automatons before launching an upscale line of Jaquet-Droz branded watches.