“Tortoise” automaton brings back charm of the olden days

It’s not a watch, but it certainly has a lot in common with them! This is a device called automaton, a mechanical contraption that uses a mechanism similar to a watch movement. This particular one, the Tortoise, is a brainchild of master watchmaker Raúl Pagès. This is actually his first creation, after having worked with Parmigiani Fleurier. There he worked on the restoration of antique clocks, but what really got his attention were the elaborate automata, found on the Fabergé eggs he restored.

Fascinated by the beauty and mechanical characteristics of these devices, Pagès set out to create his very own automaton, under the independent brand PAGÈS. He continues the tradition of highly prestigious automata that has been declining since its heyday in the 19th century. Nowadays the automata are associated with bygone eras, and are rarely seen, but that doesn’t mean that trend couldn’t change. The “Tortoise” automaton presents years of work searching for perfection and excellence, which really shows in the choise of materials.

The beginning of something great

The outside of this automaton is made of 18 carat white gold. The shell, legs and head are all made of this material, and the shell itself was further enameled and engraved. The enamel work is reflected in the beautiful blue triangles that visually enrich the automaton. We can also see the masterful finishing in the form of hand bevelling and guilloche work, as well as the applied Côtes de Genève pattern. Finally, there are diamonds on the claws of the tortoise and sapphires as the eye decoration. This automaton is a unique piece – there will be several others in the limited series, but different from this one.

Why a tortoise? Well, the animal is symbolic of longevity, being wise and having perseverance, which are qualities Raúl Pagès wanted to incorporate into his creations. He cooperated with highly skillful craftsmen who worked on producing more than 300 parts of the movement. It is worth mentioning that the automaton is entirely made in Switzerland, which further adds to its exclusivity. The mechanism is revealed by lifting the shell of the tortoise. After winding it with a key, the tortoise begins to move forward, by moving the head and legs. We’re not sure what the practical purpose of this is, but one can’t deny the adorable factor this automaton possesses. One thing is for sure, you won’t find something like this in the world!

This tortoise doesn't hide in its shell

About Raúl Pagès

This young watchmaker was born in 1983, in Val-de-Ruz, Switzerland. He attended the CIFOM Technical School in Le Locle, where he specialized in restoration and horological complications, as well as the horological construction. In 2006, he began working as a watchmaker at Parmigiani Fleurier where he had the chance to work with, among other things, various automata. Some of them were part of the Fabergé eggs he restored. His fascination with those mechanisms led him to thinking of making his own automaton. In 2012, he teamed up with his brother and together they founded the independent brand PAGÈS in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Raúl Pagès - the creative force behind the Tortoise


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