The Signing Machine by Jaquet Droz

Built to celebrate Jaquet-Droz‘ 280th anniversary, the Signing Machine is a callback to the work of company founder Pierre Jaquet-Droz. The automaton is a pocket-sized mechanical device that will sign the owners signature to exact specification each time.

Nearly three hundred years ago, Pierre Jaquet-Droz was a source of great amazement at the European royal courts, where he presented his three famous automata – The Writer, The Draughtsman and The Musician. The most astonishing of these was The Writer, because, even then, it could be programmed to produce a given sentence in a flowing script. This automaton enjoys cult status and is considered the “ancestor” of the computer. He was not only the subject of numerous scientific studies, but also inspired Martin Scorsese to direct the film “Hugo”.

The Signing Machine is a masterpiece of mechanics and technology that is protected by a four-digit numerical code and has a manual winding mechanism. Simply pressing twice with your finger releases a hinged arm and pen. By means of highly complex movements, driven by a set of cams that are handmade in order to produce a fluid, natural script, The Signing Machine duplicates its owner’s signature.

The Signing Machine has the power reserve allowing it to complete two full signatures before having to be wound again. All in all, 585 parts operate within an extremely complex mechanism that is entirely assembled and finished by hand.

The devices are built made-to-order as each one requires a custom mechanism to recreate the pen movements necessary to emulate a customer’s signature—a copy of which needs to be included with your order. This of course does not come cheap. The starting price is $367,500, depending possibly on how complicated the signature is.