The complications atelier

The Dragon and the Pearl of Wisdom

Within the Vaucher Manufacture company stands an interesting atelier specializing in very complicated watches... "the Atelier Développement Complications", as it is called.

By Peter Chong for Parmigiani Fleurier

Staffed by master watchmakers and creators and working closely with designers and artists to create magnificent and interesting horological pieces, this atelier is a microcosm of innovative thinking. From its walls, this atelier has the ability to do prototyping and development of the entire mechanism to the production of unique pieces. From watch movements to automata.

One example is the beautiful and yet functional "The Dragon and the Pearl of Wisdom" timepiece sculpture came into fruition.  This Piece of Exception is the latest "objet d’art" created by this atelier. Earlier versions have been created using the similar movement depicted by the themes of The Cat and Mouse or The Falcon and the Bustard.


The creation of the sculpture of "The Dragon and the Pearl of Wisdom" is a work of art on its own, and a tribute to Edouard Sandoz who initiated the Sandoz Foundation which gave rise to the watch manufactory. Edouard himself was an accomplished sculpture artist. 

This amazing "objet d’art"  features a magnificent Chinese Dragon on a rotating platform. The Dragon is magnificently sculptured...represents power, nobility and good luck is poised to pounce on the Pearl which itself is on another rotating platform. The Pearl represents wisdom. There is a beautiful tension between the two principal characters created by the genius of the sculptor. The Dragon is made of sterling silver, and each of the 468 individual scales are made from hand cut, hand set natural jade. The Pearl, surrounded by flames is made of solid gold.

The Dragon's platform makes one revolution every hour, while the Pearl makes six jumps ...so that just as the Pearl is within reach of the Dragon...it jumps and escapes to play another revolution. Each time, the Dragon renews his quest, a gong chimes. The legend is that the Dragon never catches the Pearl, thus this eternal quest for wisdom.

Another marker, revolving around the sculptured base of the object makes one revolution every 12 Chinese hours, completes the functional use of the object as a clock. Each Chinese hour is equivalent to two hours. The base is made of rock crystal, and allows the owner to see the magnificent movement within. The mechanical timepiece comprises of 1000 components.

This Piece of Exception was created by the Design Department in Parmigiani Fleurier, and the sculpture work commissioned from a famous sculpture artist in Italy. The movement for the piece was conceived, and built in the"Atelier Développement Complications". The movement is hand wound with a key and has a power reserve of 8 days.

Another interesting piece to have come out of this atelier is the innovative Clock 15 days covered in detail in this article.

Yet another interesting piece is the development of the movement used in the Bugatti series of watches.


It seems like this is an atelier "par excellence"...where the words “Dream it, make it” seem to ring true.

The Dragon and the Pearl of Wisdom
Master watchmakers and creators working closely
The Cat and Mouse, Piece of Exception
Assembling the movement
Sculpture as a real work of art