Watchmakers reveal their artistic flair through these visually fascinating timepieces
igh complication, accuracy, precision—these common expressions of the watchmaking world take a back seat when it comes to timepieces created primarily for aesthetic appreciation. Grand feu enamel, filigree, champlevé, granulation and engraving— decorative techniques often collectively referred to as métiers d’art—come to the fore in describing such pieces, breathtaking not so much for their mind-bending complications and high frequencies but for their compelling craftsmanship. These timepieces give watchmakers the chance to demonstrate a different skillset, one more to do with artistic flair than technical dexterity.
Hermès has always kept the decorative arts within arm’s reach when making watches. It presents 12 unique timepieces bearing the work of Japanese painter Buzan Fukushima, one of a handful of masters of the 19th-century craft of Aka-e painting. Fukushima’s hand-painted interpretations of Japan’s traditional Koma Kurabe horse races grace the porcelain dials of the Slim d’hermès Koma Kurabe, providing an apt link with Hermès’ equestrian heritage.
The pink-gold dial of the Panther Stone Mosaic Tortue, from Cartier’s Maison des Métiers d’art division, bears a mosaic of the brand’s iconic panther created with carefully cut and skilfully assembled onyx, framed by an 18K-gold diamond-encrusted case. The eye of the panther is a striking green stone.
Hublot, ever the trailblazer, has blended the traditional art of champlevé grand feu enamelling with the pop art and cubist style of Brazilian contemporary artist Romero Britto. The dial of the Classic Fusion Enamel Britto takes its cues from Britto’s vibrant artwork. Hublot’s dialmaker chose 12 “perfect” colours from a palette of 250 to reproduce Britto’s psychedelic art within a 45mm dial. Clockwise from left: Buzan Fukushima works on the dial of a Slim d’hermès Koma Kurabe (below); Panther Stone Mosaic Tortue by Cartier; Classic Fusion Enamel Britto by Hublot