Watches with hand-painted enamel dials are a rarity and Manufactures produce only limited numbers of them. Exacting work goes into making them, at least five hours to create a simple enamel dial in a single colour while complex designs take as long as 60 hours. They are fired in an oven to create a hard, deeply pigmented finish and the result catches the eye of every viewer. Hiren Kumar Bose chooses a select few
JAEGER-LECOULTRE Master Grande Tradition à Répétition Minutes
The 39mm watch pays tribute to Van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhône. There are no words to explain the enamellist’s artistry to transpose onto the dial a masterpiece like this. Presented in a limited series of 18 pieces, the pink gold watch is powered by the Calibre 942 automatic movement equipped with a minute repeater. To create an extremely rich sound, Jaeger-LeCoultre has developed a crystal gong with a square section, made from a special secret alloy and machined all of a piece. In addition, the watch is equipped with two patented trebuchet hammers that make a single and stronger strike on these crystal gongs whose heel is welded to the upper sapphire crystal. The striking regularity is ensured by the silent regulator that controls the energy delivered by the barrel of the minute repeater. Beating at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, the movement comprises 437 parts and delivers a 40-hour power reserve.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Charms Extraordinaire Fée Sakura
This 32mm watch is inspired by cherry trees in bloom. The dial employs artistic crafts to depict nature’s beauty with sculpted, hand-painted mother-of-pearl for the cherry blossoms and cabochonné enamel for the corollas in the foreground, creating an opalescent effect. The fairy in sculpted white gold unfolds her diamond wings. Around the bezel, a further two rows of diamonds encircle a palette of pink sapphires. Three flowers on the back of the case portray the stages from a barely-opened bud to the flower in full bloom. A diamond and pink sapphire charm lend the finishing touch to this miniature tableau.
SLIM D’HERMÈS Grrrrr watch
The design originating from a Hermès silk scarf is tamed by the brush—an unusual encounter between a gruff bear and the delicate technique of miniature enamel painting. The portrait of the bear is complete and duly protected by translucent enamel; each pigment applied to the white gold dial, the animal’s expression becomes more daunting. The 39mm watch has mechanical self-winding with white gold casing, enamel dial and has a power reserve of 50 hours.
JACQUET DROZ Petite Heure Minute
The Grand Feu enamel has been worked to create a deep, uniform black version. The only background capable of enhancing the painter’s precise and infinitely thin brushstrokes, the dense and magnetic enamel gives each ornamental motif its impression of depth. With its bold plumage and impressive beak, the surprising Caribbean flamingo immediately catches the eye. 248 brilliant-cut diamonds are set along the 39 mm diameter red gold case, adding their brilliance to this eminently elegant spectacle of the bird as it seemingly prepares to unfurl its long, majestic neck. The lifelike portrait is available as just 28 pieces and comes with a certificate of authenticity from the Ateliers d’Art, signed by the artisan whose time was devoted to its creation. Fitted with a self-winding mechanical movement and featuring a 68-hour power reserve, the watch serves as a reminder that the natural world is never as beautiful as when seen through the prism of exclusivity.
ULYSSE NARDIN Jade “Grand Feu” editions
Each of three new Jade “Grand Feu” timepieces is carefully traced with a guilloché technique, thus creating wavy furrows which start from the center and extend to the chapter ring. The stunningly rich enamel meets the swirl of diamonds across the watch’s dial and on the stainless steel bezel. The gorgeous dial features stylized indexes which are easy to read, thus revealing Jade’s practical nature. There is also a small date window set at the 6 o’clock position which is nicely rounded by the twisting curve of diamonds on the continuous seconds. The beautiful dial is enhanced with a metal arabesque pattern which consists of 22 diamonds which graciously embraces the second sub-dial. This stunning pattern begins at the 9 o’clock position and finishes at the 6 o’clock position just below the date aperture. At the centre of the dial, two openwork hands show hours and the minutes by moving across an hour rim partly made up of large Arabic numerals.
RONDE LOUIS CARTIER XL Flamed Gold
The depth of a rich animal palette ranging from beige to brown is contrasted with blued apple-shaped hands in this 42mm watch. Cartier has chosen to pave the bezel of this exquisite timepiece in baguette-cut diamonds, a flash of fire that brilliantly illuminates the genius of the artwork. The creature is strikingly lifelike from the top of the ears to the tip of the nose. Flamed gold is the latest technique in a repertoire of Cartier crafts that extends to Etruscan granulation, enamel granulation, and filigree work. The outcome of such minute, delicate work is suitably impressive in this watch which runs on the Maison’s Calibre 43OMC.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés
These three watches with “illuminated” dials take their design cues from the Aberdeen Beastiary – a 12th-century text that contains a wide range of human knowledge and beliefs from the period. Effectively a device to represent an entire paragraph, an illumination in this sense is an image placed at the beginning of a body of text. In the case of these watches, three such animals have been chosen to represent different aspects of the world–“Caper,” a goat-like creature whose roots are firmly on the ground, “Altion,” the green/blue sea bird adorns the second dial and “Vultures’ represents the air. Each one is beautifully realized in Grand Feu enamel and highlighted with the Genevan technique of miniature painting. The enameled image sits on a gold dial, bordered by a colourful frieze. In the background of the lower-level, raised gold words – a tribute to nature and life – remind us of this watch’s origin. The case back is in glass and proudly displays the movement, which has a 40-hour power reserve. The case is crafted from 18-ct white gold and is 40mm wide, 49.45mm tall, and stands 10.3mm on the wrist. Available in 60 pieces, 20 of each.