This beautiful songbird pistol is a rare automaton from around 1815 and was created by Frères Rochat. In appearance, it is a finely worked cavalry pistol covered in jewels, perhaps carried by a dandy onto the field of battle as a show piece. This stunning piece is incapable of firing a round and was never designed as a weapon.
Instead of firing rounds when the trigger is pulled, this beauty releases a hummingbird that sits at the usual location of a site. The bird spins and flaps it’s tail and wings while opening its beak and singing. At the end of its performance it returns to the barrel.
The songbird pistol was restored by Parmigiani Fleurier, a watchmaker that specializes in restoring antique timepieces. Their familiarity with the intricacies of over 3 centuries of fine detailed clockwork made this a unique challenge that they met with extreme success.
This unique piece belongs to the Sandoz Family Collection and was in sad shape when they received it. There had been previous attempts at restoration that only compounded the issues that time had wrought on it.
It took over a year and a lot of work as each tiny piece was individually restored or reworked, but the end results of such fine workmanship speak for themselves.
You can see it in action in this video: