For the past 20 years, the House of Daniel Roth has been synonymous with excellence and creativity, crafting complicated watches and exceptional creations blending traditional know-how and extreme technical expertise – two values deeply appreciated by connoisseurs the world over. Constantly in search of fresh challenges, Daniel Roth has now risen to a sizeable one by creating a twofold emotional feat named Il Giocatore Veneziano.
Automatons, a long-established tradition
Complex mechanical constructions generally representing a person or an animal in motion, the first automata date back to the Ming dynasty. Automaton timepieces appeared in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. During the period extending from 1860 to 1910 (considered the golden age of automata), many small specialised workshops sprung up in Paris and in the Swiss Jura, regularly exporting their precious mechanisms throughout the world.
An emotion-based concept
This particular project stems from an encounter between Gerald Roden, CEO of Daniel Roth, and the internationally famous automaton-maker François Junod. In harmony with the grand horological traditions and the remarkable style of 17th century pocket-watches, which illustrated scenes from mythology and from daily life, they jointly imagined a set to be produced in extremely limited numbers and of which each would be truly unique: an automaton equipped with an independent table clock, and an independent automaton wristwatch with a minute repeater mechanism.
The Automaton and the timepiece: a playful match
Among the many exceptional models created by the Manufacture Daniel Roth, the entirely hand-crafted Il Giocatore Venzeiano Automaton is undoubtedly one of the most daring of all.
Automatons made between 1880 and 1920 were generally equipped with a mainspring and many of them incorporated a music box cylinder or a small mechanical organ. For Il Giocatore Veneziano, Gerald Roden and François Junod rapidly envisaged a far more complex and entirely original mechanism. Inspired by “The Cardsharps”, a masterpiece by the Italian painter Caravaggio, they imagined an 16th century Venetian gambler throwing the dice and raising his arms to enable the observer to read the ever-changing and virtually unlimited variations (therein lay the key technical challenge) of his throws.
Extremely refined and richly attired, half standing and half sitting on a stool, he bends over a table covered with a mat and reveals the dice by raising two leather goblets he holds in his hands. His face expresses great concentration, as his head, eyelids and arms move in time with the action depicted. The fruit of many years of patient labour, Il Giocatore Veneziano by Daniel Roth is an automaton unique in its kind and which perfectly illustrates the extraordinary know-how of the Manufacture.
However, since Daniel Roth is above all a watchmaker, it was entirely natural that it should devise a timepiece on the same theme, embodying an emotional “echo” to the Automaton. Therein lies the first originality of the concept: Il Giocatore Veneziano is also interpreted as a minute repeater automaton wristwatch.
In addition to the incredible technical accomplishment consisting in miniaturising the random system governing the dice throws, the designers, engineers and watchmakers have brilliantly risen to a second challenge: that of creating a perfect match between the two objects. The automaton on the watch thus corresponds in each and every detail of its clothing and its movements to the life-sized Automaton. Moreover, just like the latter, the watch automaton operates independently from the minute repeater mechanism, meaning the player can be set into motion along with the minute repeater strike, or on demand.
An authentic world first, this majestic horological accomplishment called for no less than three full years of development. Entirely crafted by hand and comprising over 500 parts, each Il Giocatore Veneziano watch is unique in terms of its execution.
From the automaton mechanism to that of the minute repeater, each component makes this creation a truly exceptional watch, heir to a noble tradition and yet endowed with decidedly contemporary technical features.
Il Giocatore Veneziano in a nutshell
Working in close cooperation with automaton maker François Junod, Daniel Roth has succeeded in creating, above and beyond the actual technical feat, an emotionally charged masterpiece: the perfect match between an Automaton representing a 16th century Venetian dice player, and a minute repeater wristwatch equipped with a miniaturised automaton. The mechanical hand-wound Daniel Roth movement (Calibre 7300) strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on request, and is completely disconnected from that of the automaton – a challenge to which the Daniel Roth master-watchmakers have risen with impressive expertise. The finishing is crafted in the inimitable Daniel Roth spirit: the Automaton is adorned in noble materials; the cases and dials are in gold; while each detail of the dial is hand-painted and then dried and fired in the oven.
Source: Daniel Roth