Every year, it seems, watch brands get more and more creative when it comes to artistic dials and unusual elements. One key trend in a growth pattern from luxury watch brands: lace- or fabric-inspired dials, which are perfect gifts for Mother’s Day. While some watch brands are actually using fabric, lace and embroidery on their dials (and sometimes spilling over into straps), others are creating artistic dials that are inspired by feminine lace and shimmering fabrics.
Part of the highly esteemed Métiers d’ Arts realm of watchmaking, dials made of fabric, lace or embroidery deftly bring beauty, femininity and unusual materials to all new heights. Here we bring you three top brands that use actual fabric in their watch dials.
One of the masters at this art is Chanel, which has been creating embroidered dials for three years now. The Swiss-made watches with embroidered dials made in France are part of the brand’s Mademoiselle Prive’ collection. For the making of these dials, Chanel has brought it own unique Lesage method of hand embroidering diamonds, gold and pearls onto a watch dial. The technique is incredibly labor intensive, with everything done by hand in the France-based Maison Lesage workshops. Lesage, founded in 1858 as Michonet and then purchased by Albert and Marie-Louise Lesage in 1924, is one of the world’s most renowned hand embroidery workshops. In 2002, Lesage joined forces with Chanel, collaborating on haute couture collection, and then three years ago the two companies branched out to embroidering on dials for the Mademoiselle Prive’ line.
Unlike embroidery on a garment, an embroidered watch dial has to resist continual exposure to ultra-violet lights without fading and has to be made of threads that will last the lifetime of a luxury watch. Chanel and Lesage worked together to re-develop gold threads and metallic paillons because traditional embroidery material of cotton and plastic wouldn’t work. Since then, the brand continues to unveil new embroidered Lesage watches annually, with new designs, materials and elements. Because of the time-consuming work involved in making these watches, they typically sell for upwards of $50,000.
Harry Winston, a master at haute-art dials, turns to the rare art of weaving for some of its new fabric-inspired Premier watches. The Premier Precious Weaving Automatic 36mm watches feature hand-woven dials created using a rare Japanese technique. The new 36mm automatic Premier Precious Weaving watches (there are four versions) feature hand-crafted dials that weave silk threads, as well as threads of gold with mother of pearl for a stunning masterpiece.
The weaving technique was more than 18 months in the research and development stages. The use of silk thread with mother of pearl makes for a dial that almost resembles an artistic tapestry. Among the versions offered: Chrysanthemum flower with alternating petals of white and darker tones of mother-of-pearl; an abstract motif created from interwoven mother-of-pearl, silk and gold; an antique-inspired Koi fish motif; a dark metallic motif that resembles city lights. The collection retails starting at $36,400.
Taking a different tact with its Big Bang Broderie Collection, Hublot offers a totally different style of embroidery. In fact, it was in 2015 that the brand first unveiled the Big Bang Broderie collection – with supermodel Bar Refaeli joining the brand as the ambassador for the brand in general and for the face of this line in particular. The Big Bang Broderie watches, along with the recently introduced Big Bang Broderie Skull watches, blend the art of lace and embroidery with hard resins and watchmaking.
Hublot works with Swiss brand Bischoff, the leading Swiss lace house, to develop an exclusive pattern with discreet skull pattern. The lace adorns the diamond, bezel, case and strap and is protected on the dial and case with a specialized hard resin – demonstrating Hublot’s blend of art, creativity and technology. The Broderie collection retails staring at $19,400 in steel.
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