Esquire Singapore Watch Guide - - MERTIER D’ART -

THE SE­DUC­TIVE art found on the di­als of Gi­rard-Per­re­gaux’s new watches in their Cham­ber of Won­ders métiers d’art col­lec­tion adds a be­spoke and artis­tic di­men­sion to the house’s al­ready cov­eted col­lec­tions. Com­pa­ra­ble to the work done by ar­ti­sans of the Re­nais­sance, each piece boasts ex­quis­ite work­man­ship and pre­cise artistry.

Three metic­u­lously crafted car­to­graphic scenes are de­picted on the watch di­als, il­lus­trat­ing se­cret land and sea pas­sages, travel routes of a by­gone age and maps re­flect­ing a time when hu­mans were just on the cusp of ge­o­graph­i­cal un­der­stand­ing. Th­ese ex­cep­tional watches show the world as it was un­der­stood to be at the be­gin­nings of the age of ex­plo­ration. Seen through our 21st cen­tury eyes, th­ese views may seem al­most naïve and sim­plis­tic, but nonethe­less are charm­ing and show how far we’ve come in just a few cen­turies.

Num­bered within a trio of tiny pink gold discs and fit­ted with an au­to­matic man­u­fac­ture cal­i­bre, each of the three mod­els is lim­ited to only 18 pieces. The GPO 3300 cal­i­bre is a high­light of this es­teemed watch­maker’s rich tra­di­tions and long his­tory, and it guar­an­tees re­li­a­bil­ity and pre­ci­sion. The main plate and bridges of each watch are care­fully drawn cham­fered, cir­cu­lar-grained and dec­o­rated with Côtes de Genève.

Com­posed of 205 parts, the watches of­fer a 46-hour power re­serve at a fre­quency of 28,800vph. The 25.60mm di­am­e­ter (11 ½ lines), for a thick­ness of 4.20mm, is per­fectly suited to the re­fined lines of the watches’ el­e­gant pink-gold cases, de­vel­oped and made at the work­shops of Gi­rard-Per­re­gaux. Each watch is a model of har­mony, sport­ing a gen­tly slop­ing and pol­ished bezel to high­light the over­all thin­ness of the piece.

The Pearl of Won­ders watch is cir­cu­lar and fea­tures a clas­sic style. The dial de­picts maps drawn dur­ing the early 15th cen­tury by his­to­rian Ibn al-Wardi, the Greco-Egyp­tian as­tronomer and astrologer who lived in Alexandria in the early sec­ond cen­tury AD, and was con­sid­ered the fa­ther of ge­og­ra­phy. Re­call­ing the prom­i­nent in­flu­ence that Ara­bic cul­ture had over other civil­i­sa­tions, the dial places the Ara­bian Penin­sula at the heart of its de­sign, and also fea­tures the River Nile flow­ing into the Mediter­ranean.

The strik­ing blue of the so­dalite used on the dial pro­vides a per­fect back­drop for all the en­grav­ing and hand paint­ing, which took an ar­ti­san 28 hours to com­plete. The re­sult is a stun­ning minia­ture re­pro­duc­tion of the con­tours of an an­cient map on the crys­tal, only 0.25mm thick. A fi­nal coat of lac­quer, ap­plied as a sealant, pro­vides a pro­tec­tive and eye-catch­ing sheen to this one-of-a-kind time­piece.

The Ter­res­trial Map watch, depict­ing an old Chi­nese map, was in­spired by Ital­ian Je­suit Mat­teo Ricci, a the­olo­gian, a philoso­pher, a math­e­ma­ti­cian, a cos­mol­o­gist and an as­tronomer who trav­elled to Asia as part of his mis­sion­ary work and landed in Ma­cau in 1582. He never left China and spent the rest of his life ed­u­cat­ing the Chi­nese on all the ar­eas he was pro­fi­cient in. He was one of the few Western­ers al­lowed within the walls of the For­bid­den City. As a trib­ute to the his­tory and the dis­cov­ery of new ter­ri­to­ries, the map on this time­piece shows five con­ti­nents and four oceans with pre­cise ge­o­graph­i­cal and astro­nom­i­cal in­di­ca­tions writ­ten in Chi­nese.

Us­ing translu­cent white jade as its base, this time­piece glim­mers with a depth that is unique to jade. Sev­en­teen hours of crafts­man­ship went into cre­at­ing the minia­ture paint­ing on this dial, us­ing Chi­nese ink to cre­ate light and dark shades in bold, con­fi­dent brush­strokes, as if to mir­ror the rich his­tory of the Mid­dle King­dom it­self.

Fi­nally, the New World, or “Novus Or­bis”, is a breath­tak­ing piece hon­our­ing Se­bas­tian Mun­ster (1488-1552), a highly lauded Ger­man scholar whose draw­ings of 142 maps were in­cluded in the book Cos­mo­graphia Univer­salis, a richly il­lus­trated and de­tailed col­lec­tion of car­tograms.

Us­ing a se­lec­tion of stones and crys­tals such as blue and pink aven­turine, cal­cite and Cana­dian neph­rite, crafts­men em­ployed the tech­nique of stone mar­quetry and an im­pres­sive 95 hours to cre­ate an in­tri­cate mo­saic for each watch. As the over­all thick­ness of the dial stands at only 0.5mm, the del­i­cate cut­ting and as­sem­bly of th­ese crys­tal frag­ments re­veal the dex­ter­ity and the skill re­quired to cre­ate such a work of art. The minute hand-painted de­tail, done in six dif­fer­ent tones, brings fur­ther life to this stun­ning time­piece, cre­at­ing the unique il­lu­sion that the land el­e­ments on this minia­ture map are “float­ing”.

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