When the prestigious Swiss watchmaker Jaquet Droz began building its Signing Machine in 2014, perhaps it was thinking it might be perfect for famous folks fed up with having to repeatedly pen their autograph for adoring fans.
But a lot has happened in the last four years, with the once sought-after autograph having given way to the celebrity selfie, where the fan sidles up beside their hero and sticks a smartphone in front of their faces for a quick snap.
Whatever the reason, Jaquet Droz has finally unveiled its exquisite Signing Machine, an astonishing pocket-sized contraption that showcases the company’s mechanical clockwork technology by replicating your signature. It does this via a retractable arm that contains a slot for a pen. The Signing Machine is now available to purchase, with the maker incorporating the owners’s signature into the design when building the device.
As with the very finest of old-school timepieces, the Signing Machine needs to be wound up before it can begin the process of signing merchandise, contracts, checks … well, pretty much anything you like. But keep in mind, this handmade machine comprises 585 different parts, so you’ll only get about two signatures from it before it’ll need winding up again. Saying that, if your name is more “Englebert Humperdinck” than “Bono,” your finger and thumb may have to bounce back into action before the machine even makes it to your family name.
The Signing Machine was unveiled at the recent Baselworld watch extravaganza in Switzerland. The box of tricks, which forms part of the brand’s 280th anniversary celebrations, takes inspiration from The Writer and The Draughtsman, two pen-holding automatons created by company founder Pierre Jaquet Droz and his son, Henri-Louis, in the late 18th century to help promote their timepieces. The two human-like machines, along with another called The Musician, can be seen today at the Neuchâtel Museum of Art and History in Switzerland.
According to the watchmaker, the Signing Machine’s movement has been “reworked for fluidity, carrying out perfect, more consistent signatures” than you can get with The Writer.
To prevent some villainous individual from running off with the machine and signing away the owner’s life, the device can only be activated via a code chosen by the owner.
Anyone ordering The Signing Machine will be able to select most of its decorative elements, “keeping with the philosophy of Jaquet Droz to create truly unique objects of art, executed by hand within its workshops,” which is just as well considering the device will set you back around $365,000.