Now that the finish, or habillage, of a luxury watch has become as important as the inside (the Geneva Seal for example now requires the outside of a watch to be decorated, rather than just the movement), the brands whose niche has always been elaborate metiers are in the spotlight. Decorative enameled dials have become a hot collectors’ item. The best are masterpieces of miniaturization, executed using a microscope by the steady hands of artisans, often involving brushes with no more than a single hair. Some of the most elaborate pieces take a year to complete, with multiple firings resulting in deep, saturated colors. Aficionados will gladly wait.
Van Cleef & Arpels Lotus dial depicting a Lotus flower rendered in champlevé enamel, from the Charms Extraordinaire collection, with a white gold case, bezel set with diamonds, blue sapphires and rare Paraiba tourmalines.
DeLaneau Atame Butterfly dial, depicting butterflies and flowers rendered in grand feu enamel, The case is 18k pink gold with a bezel set with 30 baguette diamonds, and the brand’s signature overlapping lugs set with round brilliant diamonds. With an automatic movement.
Vacheron Constantin watch from the Florilège, a trio of watches with grand feu cloisonné enamel dials depicting exotic flowers. They were inspired by The Temple of Flora, a book of botanical illustrations written in 1799 by botanist/explorer Robert John Thornton.
Ulysse Nardin Classico Cloisonné – Pride of Baltimore, a depiction of the Baltimore Clippers used as privateers, or legal pirates during the War of 1812. Over 500mm of fine gold wire is needed to make the cloisons, a practice that requires 50 working hours and 26 processes to complete each cloisonné dial. Contains self-winding UN caliber 815.
Chanel dial crafted in miniature painted enamel, from the Mademoiselle Privé collection, in grand feu enamel produced using the “Geneva technique” (using coats of transparent enamel to fix the painting), with foliage depicted using 24k gold paillons. The white gold case is snow-set with 571 diamonds.