Bringing Watches to Life: Top 5 Automaton Watches to Die for

Automatons boast the ability to play music, move figures, and draw pictures. These astounding inventions are a collector’s dream
Bringing Watches to Life: Top 5 Automaton Watches to Die for
June 6, 2024
Bringing Watches to Life: Top 5 Automaton Watches to Die for

Automaton watches are a fascinating subset of mechanical timepieces known for their intricate animations. These watches feature small, animated scenes or figures, often depicted on the dials or the cases. These animations can be activated at regular intervals, such as every hour or on demand, via a button or a pusher; these are run by complex mechanical systems, including cams, levers, and gears, integrated into the watch movements. All such elements add an exquisite layer of complexity and craftsmanship to an automaton watch.

If you are a true-blue collector, you should consider making the following automatons part of your treasure trove:

Louis Vuitton Tambour Opera Automata

This one-of-a-kind pink gold watch in a 46.8 mm case pays respect to Bian Lian of the Sichuan Opera with its virtuoso embellishment, which features a traditional mask that comes to life and changes expressions on demand. La Fabrique du Temps Louis Vuitton created, developed, and built an exceptional movement to drive such an artistic performance. Time is only revealed when the automaton's button is pressed: the engraved pink gold dragon's head rises to expose the jumping hours printed on the forehead of the cloisonné enamel Bian Lian, while its tail reveals the reverse minutes. The mask's attitude changes dramatically: its brows furrow, its eyelid closes over its left eye, and the pupil of its right eye retracts to reveal a pointed Monogram blossom. The LV 525 calibre, totalling 426 components, has a power reserve of 100 hours.

Price: INR 4,25,00,000 (approx.)

Jaquet Droz Parrot Repeater

This pocket watch automata, Parrot Repeater, has a skeleton tourbillon in a sapphire case. Housed in a 56 mm red gold case, the watch has a Minute Repeater and an automaton with eight animations that are operated in tandem by a single bolt mechanism at 9 o'clock. The tableau comes alive as the waterfall in the background runs, the two parent parrots move, their egg hatches, and their offspring shuffles. A secret mechanism (for which two patents have been filed) is buried within an opening on both the dial side and the back of the bow. The caseback depicts a parrot painted on an enamel background in a tropical forest, accented with gold leaf paillons.

Price - INR 3,95,00,000 (approx.)

Speake Marin Minute Repeater Carillon

The watch incorporates the iconic Piccadilly case, the topping tool's silhouette, and the movement's striking openworked display. The drum-shaped Piccadilly case has a sparkling stepped platinum bezel, straight grey PVD-coated titanium lugs, and a fluted crown at 3 o'clock. Sized at 42 mm, this clock features two sapphire crystals over the dial and the caseback. The slider at 8 o'clock activates the repeater, while the motion of the hammers striking the gongs may be seen at 12 o'clock, followed by a flying tourbillon at 6 o'clock. The enormous red Roman number XII located at 12 o'clock is an automaton that gets activated during the chiming sequence.

Price - INR 3,37,00,000 (approx.)

Jacob & Co. Casino Tourbillon 

The 44 mm rose gold watch has a working roulette wheel on the dial, complete with a little ball that spins around as the wearer rotates his wrist. The fully operable table features a pusher at 8 o'clock, enclosed by a long, crescent-shaped crown guard for the Roulette animation that drives the wheel head as well as 37 pockets — one green, 18 red, and 18 black — and a white porcelain ball. The wheel head spins with great speed and negligible friction. The limited-edition watch also features a curved caseband, a steep bezel, and a domed sapphire crystal. It has a tourbillon cage at 6 o'clock, which completes one full spin per minute.

Price - INR 2,88,00,000 (approx.)

Franck Muller Vanguard Racing Vegas Limited Edition

The Franck Muller Vanguard Racing Vegas watch comes in a 45 mm aerospace-grade carbon case, which is made from 150 layers of compressed carbon fibres. The crown at 3 o’clock has a winding shaft with two positions. The first position winds the watch while the second one is reserved for time-setting; an integrated push button is used to start the Roulette Wheel, placed at the centre of the dial with a yellow-green hand to mark the random roulette number. Inspired by the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, the dial comes with blue-and-red hour and minute hands, along with Arabic and blue hand-applied hour markers.

Price - On Request

*Prices in India are subject to taxes and exchange rate fluctuations, and may vary accordingly.

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