Event

"Automates & Merveilles" Association

One exhibition, 3 cities, 3 museums
From April, 28th to September, 30th 2012

The Watch Quote™ - December 4th, 2011



The idea of an exhibition germinated from the presence of the historic automata constructed by Pierre and Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz in the collections of the Musée d’art et d’histoire de Neuchâtel and the latter's desire to gain more scientific knowledge about these creative geniuses and the world of clockwork automata.



The Musée d’art et d’histoire de Neuchâtel, the Musée international d’horlogerie de La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Musée d’horlogerie du Locle-Château des Monts came together to present an exhibition on three outstanding masters of 18th-century clockmaking: Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis and their colleague Jean-Frédéric Leschot.



Originally from the Neuchâtel Mountains, the Jaquet-Droz father and son team made a reputation for themselves as brilliant inventors and astute businessmen. They were famous in Europe and world-wide for producing luxury goods characterized by the purity and elegance of their design. Among these remarkable objects were pieces of jewelry with miniaturized mechanisms, musical clockwork automata, such as singing birds, and clocks with automata, including humanoid automata.



To highlight the Jaquet-Droz and Leschot genius, as well as their quest for answers – something that connects them to today's world – the three museums decided to share their expertise and collections in order to mount an exhibition enriched by many exceptional pieces on loan from private and public collections. Presented simultaneously at all three institutions and in three languages (French, German and English), this international artistic and technical event will take the visitor from the 18th to the 21st century.




The Exhibition

The Automates & merveilles exhibition (From April, 28th to September, 30th 2012) will be divided into three sections. Each museum will explore one aspect of the life and times of the Jaquet-Droz family that is covered by its own collections. It will use one of the three humanoid automata preserved at the Musée d’art et d’histoire de Neuchâtel to introduce this aspect. Two of the automata will relocate from their home museum to partner museums for the occasion.



  • Neuchatel, Musée d’art et d’histoire :
    The Jaquet-Droz family and Leschot

  • La Chaux-de-Fonds, Musée international d’horlogerie :
    Marvellous movements…. amazing mechanisms

  • Le Locle, Musée d’horlogerie – Château des Monts :
    Masterpieces of luxury and miniaturization




Montres Jaquet Droz SA

Since Montres Jaquet Droz SA became a subsidiary of Swatch Group in 2000, it has unceasingly perpetuated the history and know-how of the founder, Pierre Jaquet Droz. A product of the Enlightenment, his elegant and travel-oriented philosophy still forms the core of the company's brand identity. The planned exhibition celebrating the work of Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis and their colleague Jean-Frédéric Leschot confirms that a close tie still binds the Enlightenment to the third millennium. Hence why Montres Jaquet Droz SA decided to support this remarkable project of the association Automates & Merveilles.




The Writer by Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1774)

The ambassador of "Autmates & Merveilles" to China,
Courtesy of Montres Jaquet Droz SA


The Writer was the first Jaquet-Droz automaton. Its creator Pierre Jaquet-Droz began work on it in 1768, pursuing his research in the field of picturesque mechanisms and the artificial duplication of life and motion.



Pierre Jaquet-Droz, Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz and Jean-Frédéric Leschot never made the journey to China. However, their reputation, based on the superior quality of their goods, became well established in that country.



Next December, The Writer will travel to China for the first time.



Thanks to the generous support of Montres Jaquet Droz SA, a new chapter of the story of the clockmakers from La Chaux-de-Fonds will open with a handsome tribute to three remarkable men: Pierre Jaquet-Droz, Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz and Jean-Frédéric Leschot, master craftsmen and gifted entrepreneurs.

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