Pierre Jaquet-Droz was born in 1721 in the heart of the watchmaking industry, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. He trained in clockmaking and precision mechanics under older relatives’ supervision and opened his first workshop in 1738. He started his career making grandfather clocks.
In 1758, as sometimes happens in life, Pierre met someone who changed his destiny. George Keith, Lord Marischal, Governer of Neuchatel’s principality, suggested that he should show his clocks abroad. He had connections to the court of Spain that would facilitate Pierre’s introduction.
In a special carriage designed to carry six clocks, Pierre took his wares to Spain. He experienced great success, which gave him the funds to create clocks, watches, and automata upon returning in 1759. He was assisted by his remaining son Henri-Louis and a neighbor’s son whose mother had passed away.
He continued to travel around the world throughout his career and was applauded by all of the courts of Europe, Russia, and even China. He opened two more manufactures, one in London in 1774 and one in Geneva in 1748. Pierre and his son died shortly after each other in 1790, and the brand fell dormant for many years.