Watchmaker and mechanic Pierre Jaquet-Droz was born on 28 July 1721 at La Chaux-de-Fonds in the canton of Neuchâtel. He studied mathematics and physics at the University of Basel. He opened his first shop in 1738 and specialised in the production of automaton mechanisms. In 1758/9 travelled to Spain to present his work to Ferdinand VI.
Jaquet-Droz was later assisted in the running of his business by his son Henri-Louis and by several other young clock-making mechanics like Jean-Frédéric Leschot (Pierre’s adopted son), Henri Maillardet, and Jacob Frisard. After his studies in mathematics and physics, Henri-Louis was put in charge of his project of automata which included the three famous android automata of the Writer, the Musician, and the Draftsman (constructed between 1769 and 1774).
These constructions were shown throughout Europe and would win the family name great acclaim. In 1783 Jaquet-Droz opened a workshop in London. The branch was established in Bartlett Building’s, City of London, and was managed by his son Henri-Louis who delegated some of his responsibilities to Jean-Frédéric Leschot. Fellow Swiss mechanic Henri Maillardet became a business partner. The company went into liquidation in both London and Geneva after Pierre Jaquet-Droz’s death in 1790 and that of his son Henri-Louis in 1791.