Mystérieuse is a watch or clock when there are no visible wheels driving the hands. This is achieved by using transparent disks or gear wheels which often are made of sapphire crystal, the material Andreas Strehler used for the Papillon. For the first time, this way to display the time was used by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin in the nineteenth century. Robert-Houdin, the best technical magician of his time for the first time built clocks with seemingly floating hands. He also built technical devices highly surprising his contemporaries. The great Harry Houdini took his name from him.
For the time display of the Papillon, Andreas Strehler uses freely turning sapphire gear wheels. The ingenious bit is that the two gear wheels have an identical number of teeth but turn at a ratio of 1:12 (hours:minutes). Andreas Strehler achieves this using a double intermediate wheel in which to sets of wheel and pinion pairs are mounted in each other, powered by a two-stage cannon-pinion.