We begin in the showroom, where we meet “Charlie,” an android built in 2012 based on the Johnny Depp character Willy Wonka in the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Charlie’s hands hold two bells, which he raises to reveal current Jaquet Droz models. He is made of 2,693 mechanical parts and is animated by a system of 12 cams and 7 electric motors.
Next, we see why Pierre Jaquet-Droz was considered a wizard. A technician shows us the master’s “Singing Bird Cage,” made in 1780. It’s a large, ornate, hanging cage, with a clock on the bottom, containing two birds. In the center of the cage, running top to bottom, is a crystal column. The technician winds the clock, and for 40 seconds a melody plays while the mechanical birds, with real bird feathers, chirp, moving their wings, beaks and tails, while 12 turning “streams” in the column create the illusion of a waterfall. The clock has six melodies, which can play on demand or on the hour. For our 21st century audience, it is amazing. For an 18th century audience, it must have been pure magic.