Saturday, April 11, 2015

Freres Rochat “Saqr” Singing Bird

The “Saqr” Singing Bird by Frères Rochat pays tribute to Babylon, the illustrious capital of one of the great civilisations of the ancient world. The name of this exceptional unique piece evokes the powerful monarchs of the era, who were past masters at falconry. Reputed for its majestic flight and lightning attacks, the Saqr falcon is a fearsome predator. Its extraordinary eyesight gave it divine status and it was held to be a messenger of the gods. The Frères Rochat “Saqr” falcon represents a powerful and conquering dynasty, benefactor of a city that it watches over with a benevolent and protective eye.

Its case is inspired by the shape of the ancient ziggurats, iconic religious buildings of Mesopotamian architecture, the most famous of which is that of Babylon. Dedicated to the powerful god Marduk, protector of the city, it inspired the story of the Tower of Babel and its name, Etemenanki, means “temple of the foundation of heaven and Earth”. The sky where the Saqr falcon reigns is symbolised by a magnificent sheet of glass, while the Earth is represented by the base in solid 18-carat gold of a rare thickness.

At the heart of this unique work of horological art, bounded by four fine and translucent plates that reveal its uncommon beauty, the highly complicated bicolour movement seems as weightless as the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Four solid pillars in 18-carat gold, magnificently set with 288 baguette-cut diamonds of exceptional clarity, support the entire structure. Their extremely complex spiral recalls that attributed to the Tower of Babel, which can be seen on just about every artistic depiction of the legendary edifice.
For more than 200 years, the Frères Rochat Singing Birds have ranked among the most complex, the most valuable and the most sophisticated works of horological art. To achieve this level of perfection, Frères Rochat has always worked with the most talented craftsmen and women, who are alone capable of such exploits. The unique “Saqr” Singing Bird is an ideal example: pictured on its solid 18-carat gold cover is a superb falcon in enamel paint, which gives a lifelike impression of the bird swooping on its prey.

The nest is in gold, delicately open worked and patiently engraved by hand in a “Fleurisanne” style. The monochrome bird combines the refinement of white gold with the low weight of titanium. Its eyes are set with round diamonds of great clarity and its body is delicately engraved by hand. It sings three tunes — two birdsongs and an extract of Mozart’s 40th symphony — demonstrating its mastery of the 12 semitones of its vocal repertoire.

The invisible setting on the pillars is particularly attractive: each baguette diamond has been shaped to fit and adjusted by hand to follow precisely the helical columns. Together they amount to 22ct of exceptional quality and clarity. Finally the perfectly smooth surface, the mirror-polished trimming and the sanded insides of the pillars combine in a play of incomparably brilliant light.

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