The Jaquet Droz Signing Machine

The Jaquet Droz Signing Machine

by Johnny McElherron

Jaquet Droz are perhaps best known for their quiet beauty, their exquisite enamel dials and for their dial arrangements which are styled to pay tribute to the fortuitous number eight. But, their recently unveiled Signing Machine recalls their founder’s talents for innovation – and his penchant for mechanical wizardry.

Jaquet Droz Signing Machine – Ingenious Marketing

Brand ambassadors, world record-breaking stunts, red carpet wrist appearances – all have a part to play in a modern-day watch company’s publicity strategy. Yet, ingenious marketing is not a new phenomenon, quite the opposite. Between 1768 and 1774, Pierre Jaquet-Droz had his own ideas about how to get the world’s well-heeled society members to notice his eponymous watchmaking company’s wares. Enlisting the assistance of his son Henri-Louis and also Jean-Frederic Leschot, he created a trio of complex automata with which to amaze potential customers. These human-like dolls could perform their given tasks with extremely life-like mannerisms. Jaquet-Droz was in no doubt, those who viewed his automata would be amazed, the reputation of his company would be elevated, and sales of his timepieces would increase. And he was right.

The Jaquet Droz Signing Machine

The Jaquet Droz Signing Machine

Jaquet Droz Signing Machine – A Modern Take on Traditional Mechanics

Nowadays the Jaquet Droz brand is safely in the control of the Swatch Group and gimmicks, even highly sophisticated automata, are no longer needed: Jaquet Droz timepieces can be found in watch collections all around the world – however, with the rise in popularity of mechanical playthings, Jaquet Droz are rediscovering the art of creating non-timekeeping novelties. Taking inspiration from “The Writer” one of the original automata which survives to this day, the Jaquet Droz Signing Machine is a modern take on traditional programmable mechanics.

Due to the nature of this device each will be a bespoke model, engineered to reproduce the signature of its owner with extraordinary accuracy. Just a finger touch is necessary to make the cams spring into action releasing a hinged arm and pen. When contact is made with the document, the signature is scribed using a surprisingly fluid action. It is, in fact, such a compelling spectacle, that I predict that on delivery of each unique model, hours will be lost as its new owner becomes immersed in a bonanza of non-essential document signing.

Jaquet Droz Signing Machine – Handsome, Sleek and Portable

Jaquet Droz compare the dimensions of their Signing Machine to that of the smartphone, and the similarities don’t end there – both are portable, both have contemporary designs and sleek cases, both look rather handsome styled in monochrome, and neither will work until the correct 4-digit security code has been entered. Proof that the Signing Machine is an all-mechanical contraption can be found with a glimpse through to the internal workings via a generous display window. Manual winding of the mechanism is activated by a lever on the side of the case.

The first successful Autopens were created in the 1940’s and have been used ever since by Presidents and busy executives alike. President Obama has even been known to have signed-off a few law extensions when he was thousands of miles away from his desk. There is, however added charm and authenticity to be found in a mechanical auto-signing device created by a watch company, particularly when that company is Jaquet Droz.

    Author Bio

    Articles by Johnny McElherron


    Johnny McElherron was busy minding his own business as a successful company director, when one day he fell in love with watches. So deeply that soon after his eureka! moment he established The Watch Press as a vehicle where he could indulge his passion with gusto. What his eye beheld he would write about, in his own unique style, and in time his work penetrated through to numerous national and international mainstream and online publications. Today Johnny creates engaging content for watch industry clients, and in 2014 joined forces with the highly respected watch industry specialists Delos Communications, with whom he works to provide Delos clients with high quality content to ensure no part of their company message gets lost in translation.