Christophe Bernardo, head of the Métiers d'Art atelier
© Blancpain Press Service
“Our art workshop in Le Brassus has many crafts: sculpture, engraving, damasking, all kinds of enamel, as well as the ancient Japanese shakudo technique. It allows you to change the color of the gold or copper alloy from which the dial is made, giving it a deep gray or black hue. The disc is immersed in a warm bath with a solution, a chemical reaction occurs. The color will not change over time. You can color not only the background of the dial, but also the image on it. The applied-image dial is subjected to the shakudo process a different number of times to give the desired patina. Each Shakudo dial is unique."
Mother of pearl miniature, Bovet
Pascal Raffy, owner
© press service Bovet
“This decorative finish was used by Edouard Bove in the 19th century, and it attracted the attention of many noble persons, including the Chinese emperor. Several masters own mother-of-pearl painting at our manufactory. The drawing is applied by hand in seven to eight steps. First, the contours are drawn (the image is transferred in the "lattice" technique with control points). Different colors are applied successively with the thinnest marten fur brush - each time the master prepares new brushes for work. Each shade with a layer of no more than 0.05 mm is fixed with varnish and fired at a temperature of 80 degrees. This is followed by multi-stage polishing: first with abrasive, then with varnish. The creation of a miniature takes at least 80 hours. Today we have learned to apply even fluorescent paints to mother-of-pearl."
Silver Plated, Glashütte Original
Michael Hammer, Public Relations Specialist
© Press Office Glashütte Original
“The technique of silvering dials was used even in the grandfather clock with a pendulum, which our manufacture made in the second half of the 19th century. It was first used in a wristwatch in the platinum Senator Chronograph Panorama Date. What is the process? The gold disc is engraved with a laser, the recesses are filled with black varnish, and then the workpiece is fired in an oven. This prepares the dial for the application of the silver layer. Silver dust, mixed in a certain proportion with salt and water, is manually rubbed into the surface with a special brush. As a result, the textured dial gets a shimmery background."
Urushi varnish, Seiko
Issu Tamura, art varnish master
© Seiko Press Service
“Urusi is a type of varnish made from the natural resin of Japanese lacquer wood. It has been used for 9 thousand years. In ancient times, varnish was used, for example, to fix a stone on the handle of an ax, then furniture and utensils began to be varnished to protect against wear and corrosion. Over the centuries, urushi became an integral part of Japanese art, especially those created in the city of Kanazawa. Over the centuries, the recipe for varnish has practically not changed. The creation of lacquered dials is a multi-stage process that begins with charcoal grinding of the brass base of the dial. All lacquer layers (lacquer base, intermediate layers, top layer and suri urushi clear lacquer) are applied with circular brush strokes, after which the workpiece is sent to the oven and polished. The final polishing is done with the fingertips, on which a special powder is applied. This gives the Seiko Presage dials a unique deep black color.”
Petal marquetry, Cartier
Pierre Rainero, Director of Heritage and Development
1 of 5 © Press Office Cartier © Press Office Cartier © Press Office Cartier © Press Office Cartier © Press Office Cartier
“We own many unique decorative techniques, some of which are ancient ones we have preserved, they have never been documented, knowledge is passed from teacher to student. Others were invented by us. In 2014, we acquired a previously non-existent craft technique - flower marquetry. A master working in this most complicated technique must first select the roses, then collect the petals, paint them, cut out fragments of the desired shape by hand using a special blade and place them on a thin wooden board. This is incredibly meticulous work, the risk of making a wrong move and ruining everything is great at every stage. The master constantly has to be extremely concentrated, and the work on one Ballon Bleu de Cartier dial with a parrot using the floral marquetry technique lasts two weeks."
Tapisserie, Audemars Piguet
Georgy Osorgin, CEO of Audemars Piguet in Russia
© press service Audemars Piguet
“The Tapisserie pattern is the hallmark of the Royal Oak and Royal Oak Offshore collections. There are three varieties: Petite Tapisserie is used for ultra-thin watches with a square size of 0.7x0.7 mm, Grande Tapisserie - for automatic and quartz (1.28x1.28 mm) and Mega Tapisserie - for Royal Oak Offshore (2.2x2.2 mm). It takes about an hour to prepare and apply the pattern. We use special 1970s guilloche machines that we bought, refurbished and debugged. Now they are no longer produced, and we have about 40 machines working at the manufactory. Using the template disc, the machine cuts out the squares and simultaneously cuts out the fine grooves surrounding them. The superposition of two decorative patterns creates a radiant effect and emphasizes the geometric texture of the dial."
Marquetry, Patek Philippe
Sandrine Stern, Creative Director
© Patek Philippe Press Service
“Our manufacture has always paid great attention to the preservation of rare handicraft techniques. On the occasion of the large exhibition of our historical watches in New York, the masters have created a unique example of pocket watches, one of the most complex and intricate in terms of decor. The Portrait of an American Indian watch has several artistic techniques at once: marquetry, engraving, enamel and stone inlay. The portrait of an Indian is lined with wooden mosaic. The artist used 304 tiny pieces and 60 pieces of mosaic cut from 20 different types of wood to create a rich palette of colors, expressive face, and add volume to the feather headdress and necklace around the Indian neck (the latter is made up of 100 pieces of wood). A complete feeling is created that the portrait is executed in the technique of enamel miniature."
Automaton, Jaquet Droz
Christian Lattman, CEO
© press service Jaquet Droz
“Automatons, that is, moving mechanical figures, are the legacy of the 18th century master Pierre Jaquet-Droz, which we have been embodying in complex wrist models since 2012. Their dial becomes a stage for captivating animation, which causes childish surprise and delight for everyone. In the new minute repeater Tropical Bird Repeater (only eight of them have been released), a whole garden of paradise with a waterfall comes to life: a hummingbird soars up, making 40 flaps per second, dragonflies begin to dance, a peacock spreads its tail, and a toucan appears from behind palm leaves. Seven animation elements move against the backdrop of a running minute repeater for which the new caliber RMA89 was created."
Grainy decor, MB&F
Maximillian Büsser, founder
1 of 3 © press service MB&F © press service MB&F © press service MB&F
“The grainy texture of the frosted metal is strongly associated with an antique pocket watch. It is believed that such a finish with a "frosty" texture (finition grenée or grainée) was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In those days, all parts of the watch were subject to oxidation, to protect them, he heated the parts over an open fire and immersed them in nitric acid. The resulting matte finish also served as a decorative function, imparting shine. MB&F craftsmen have recreated the effect in the Legacy Machine 101 "Frost" editions without resorting to a chemical reaction, but manually treating the surface millimeter by millimeter with a wire brush. The process is very laborious, in contrast to sandblasting machine processing, it requires constant force and angle of pressure to create "frost".
Mirror Effect, FP Journe
François-Paul Journe, founder
© press service FP Journe
“The Chronomètre Bleu is my way of attracting a younger generation of collectors to precision mechanics. Blue dials have been trending for a few years now, but I implemented it my own way. The tantalum watch at a rather attractive price (less than € 20,000) was very difficult to design, especially the mirrored iridescent blue dial. To achieve this effect, eight coats of blue chrome lacquer are sequentially applied to the disc, placing the blank in the oven after each coat. The process takes place in special sealed cabins protected from dust, because any flaw is noticeable on the mirror surface. Only a fifth of all manufactured dials are used."
Snow Setting, Jaeger-LeCoultre
Christian Laurent, head of the complex watch workshop
1 of 3 © Press Office Jaeger-LeCoultre © Press Office Jaeger-LeCoultre © Press Office Jaeger-LeCoultre
“The snow setting diamond setting is used by many brands, but first appeared on Jaeger-LeCoultre watches in 2002. The idea was to arrange as closely as possible diamonds of the same - round - shape, but different sizes - from 0.5 mm to 1.6 mm in diameter. Since, unlike, for example, a regular invisible setting, the edges of diamonds of different sizes reflect light chaotically, a "frosty" effect of frost sparkling in the sun is created. All work is done manually. The snow setting technique has been used to decorate a wide variety of Jaeger-LeCoultre models: Extraordinaire La Rose watches, jewelry versions of Reverso, including the Neva. Ivy leaves are covered with diamond snow on the Rendez-vous Ivy Minute Repeater watch.
Beyond the dial: signature movement decor techniques
Volcanic lava, Romain Jerome
Manuel Emsch, CEO
© press service Romain Jerome
“In April 2010, during the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull, I, like thousands of other passengers, got stuck at the airport. And he came up with a watch. I just missed the element of the Earth in the DNA project. Daniel Haas made a dial of solidified lava, and Andre Martinez made a volcanic miniature with the addition of the ash of an Icelandic volcano. The first EyjafjallajÖkull DNA watch was made in a single copy and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity of volcanic ash and lava. The new version of EyjafjallajÖkull DNA Burnt Lava has been released in 99 copies. Fragments of black solidified lava are manually applied to the base of the onyx dial, and the gaps between them are filled with cold enamel - the painting creates the effect of a fiery stream between the cracks of the mountains.
Palace style bracelets, Piaget
Jean-Bernard Forot, Head of Jewelry
© Piaget Press Service
“The decoration of the“palace”style is Piaget's know-how, which appeared in the brand back in the 1960s. Its essence lies in hand-engraving a bracelet made of precious metal, uneven "scratching" to create the effect of a surface resembling raw silk. The bracelet itself is created from gold links, fastened with pins, but thanks to the "palace" decoration, the links and fastenings between them are completely invisible. This engraving is done not by contractors, but by Piaget's own specialists. It takes several years of practice to learn how to engrave the palace style. One of the famous models with a palace bracelet is the 1960s Jackie Kennedy watch.
Invisible setting, Van Cleef & Arpels
Catherine Cariou, Guardian of the Heritage of Van Cleef & Arpels
© Press Service Van Cleef & Arpels
“The legs of the stone setting sometimes destroy the harmony of the jewelry, and therefore, since the foundation of the house, Van Cleef & Arpels has been looking for a technique that would allow to get rid of such fastenings. The invisible setting technique developed in 1933 is the result of many years of research and development. Its secret lies in a special construction of gold, into which cut stones are strung one by one as on rails. The stones fit perfectly together and create an incredibly shiny and sparkling surface. Most often, rubies, emeralds and sapphires are fixed in this technique. Later, different types of invisible setting were developed in the house - invisible setting of marquise-cut stones and invisible stained-glass setting, in which the metal is not visible either from the front or back side. At first, it was only possible to fix stones in this way on flat surfaces,therefore, in the mid-1930s, it was often used in cosmetic bags and travel bags; with the development of technology, they learned to use it in floral motifs, on curved surfaces. From the 1930s to the present day, this is Van Cleef & Arpels' signature technique."
Openwork skeleton, Vacheron Constantin
Christian Selmoni, Director of Style and Heritage
1 of 3 © Press Office Vacheron Constantin © Press Office Vacheron Constantin © Press Office Vacheron Constantin
“Openwork skeletonization of the mechanism is a unique technique. It consists in the maximum release of parts from excess metal for the effect of "metallic lace", emphasizing the silhouette of the caliber, the shape of the plate and bridges. It has been used in our manufactory since the early 1900s, and over a century it has evolved into a signature technique. In addition, our calibers are skillfully engraved with various motifs by hand. The craftsmanship of the engravers turns skeletonized models into works of art."
Bridge polishing, Greubel Forsey
Stephen Forsey, co-founder
© press service Greubel Forsey
“In our company, handmade decor is an integral part of every watch. The unique architecture of the mechanisms is complemented by the masterly processing of each fragment of the surface of any component, visible to the eye or hidden. All operations are performed manually and the result is carefully checked using a microscope. Often, decorating and polishing a watch movement takes three months, as in the case of the Quadruple Tourbillon. Another example: in the Tourbillon 24 Secondes Vision watch, the lower bridge of the tourbillon resembles a Roman arch, and its polishing requires special skill. Each bridge is personally engraved by the master who performed this work."
Processing Unusual Materials, Louis Moinet
Jean-Marie Schaller, CEO
© Press Office Louis Moinet
Louis Moinet tells the story of time. We not only manufacture the most complex mechanisms, but also use the natural elements of the Universe. The Tourbillon Rosetta Stone dial is made from the oldest element in the solar system: the age of the meteorite, most likely from Mercury, is close to 4.5 billion years. In Jurassic Watch, we used the fossils of a reptile that lived more than 150 million years ago. For the opening of the store in Moscow, we presented the new Treasures of the World with dials made of unique materials: red petersite, obsidian breccia, dumortierite. Designed by Jacques Baccourt, founder of the Rich Time Group.”>