There are many ways to embellish a timepiece with handcrafted design, but none presents a more prominent space than the dial
As we explore art in this issue, let us look at a selection of timepieces that has embraced artistic techniques for a highly individual aesthetic. These pieces show, too, that oftentimes what is on the dial is just as important as what is under it.
Chopard L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony
Specially dedicated to women, this is a beautiful limited edition of eight watches crafted out of 18ct rose gold. Featuring the silhouette of the graceful peony paper cutting, and exquisitely applied onto the enamel dial, this watch is a meeting of today’s watchmaking aesthetic with old-world grace and finesse. The peony design on the dial is inspired by jianzhi, a paper cutting technique from ancient China that has spread throughout Europe over the centuries – specifically to Switzerland and Germany where the folk art of scherenschnitte survives today. The delicate flower is cut out from a single piece of black paper, leaving the artist to utilize fine lines, solid areas and negative space to create detail and depth. When placed on top the glossy white Grand Feu enamel dial, the image comes to life.
In addition to the paper cutting on the dial, the bridges of the movement are decorated with Fleurisanne engraving that has been revived by Chopard. Artisans carefully remove the 18ct gold on the bridges to create the raised floral design before polishing it to a high gloss finish. The 35mm rose gold case is slim at 7.7mm, and is equipped with a manufacture calibre L.U.C 96.23-L ultra-thin automatic movement. Embellished with brilliant cut diamonds on the bezel, lugs and case sides, the Chopard L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony is available exclusively at Chopard Boutiques.
Ulysse Nardin Classic Classico Zhenghe
In celebration of Chinese maritime history, and of the ancient enamel cloisonné technique, Ulysse Nardin honors the Zheng He Treasure Boat in its Classic Collection. Each watch features a stunning cloisonné enamel dial with an intricately applied Chinese Treasure Boat in incredible detail. For one, the shading on the sails reflecting the moonlight as the ship cuts through the ocean is masterfully executed. Zheng He captained a fleet of Treasure Boats and famously led seven incredible expeditions during the Ming Dynasty, sailing as far as Africa, from China. These massive Treasure Boats measured 137m long and 55m wide, with four decks and up to 500 crew each, making Zheng He’s fleet the biggest maritime expedition of the time. To accurately portray the appearance of the Zheng He Treasure Boat, Ulysse Nardin called upon its enamel specialists Donzé Cadrans for the intricate enamel cloisonné technique. In this ancient art form, dating back to the early 4th century, craftsmen employ fine gold wire to create compartments, within which the enamel is deposited. Every cloisonné dial involves immense patience, requiring 50 hours of artisanal expertise and 26 separate processes to bring a scene to life. Handcrafted from 18ct rose gold and powered by the manufacture UN-815 COSC certified automatic movement, this 30-piece limited edition timepiece is the proverbial work of art on your wrist.
Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara Tiger
As part of Jaquet Droz’s 280th anniversary, the brand has released the Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara Tiger, with it, introducing an artistic technique to the forefront. Known as smalta clara, the dial is composed of several cells of different colors and shapes that are separated by thin gold wires. Although similar to the enamel cloisonné technique, smalta clara is not attached to any backing. The collection of translucent cells standing alone, effectively become a piece of stained glass. When you consider that this piece is the size of an hors d’oeuvres, the mastery cannot be underestimated. The vehicle that Jaquet Droz has chosen to showcase this dial, the Petite Heure Minute, is perfect in the way the minimalist small hour and minute subdial leaves a sizeable space for the artists to utilize. Since the entire movement is contained within the size of the subdial, the designers are able to keep the space behind the smalta clara completely empty, allowing the maximum amount of light to pass through and flood the enamel with light. This in turn intensifies the color and brings the smalta clara tiger vividly to life. In addition, the watch is set with 100 brilliant-cut diamonds in the bezel and lugs, framing the amazing tiger. Two versions of the Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara Tiger are available, both in 35mm cases, and each limited to just 28 pieces worldwide – a white gold version with a blue-toned tiger, and a red gold case with the tiger in red and gold.