Tim­ing Beauty

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.

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