Engraved and guilloched dials and cases have become an important symbol of high watchmaking, as crucial to a finished timepiece as a highly crafted mechanical movement. Having attempted hand engraving at various manufacture tours and workshops, I can attest to the fact that the skill of engraving is much harder than it looks. Even machine assisted finishes, such as engine turned guilloché and perlage treatments, require a finely attuned sense of touch and an expert eye, as well as years of experience. Each dial requires many hours of labor. Most luxury timepieces now show more than one finish, making each finished product a team effort by a squad of master craftsmen. Some, like the Breguet 7727, feature up to six patterns on the dial. While this may sound over-decorated, it’s important to note that engraved patterns are very subtle – there is a world of difference between six colors on a dial and six guilloché patterns on a dial. It is mostly reserved for discreetly designed classic watches.
Chronoswiss Régulateur 30, with a guilloché barleycorn pattern on the dial and a chessboard pattern on the minute and seconds subdials. The look is enhanced by the 18k gold threaded bezel. With self-winding caliber C.283.
Louis Moinet Geograph, with a dial engraved in the brand’s signature “Côtes du Jura” pattern of wavy lines radiating from the center of the dial. With a sun-shaped running seconds hand at 9 o’clock. It contains a self-winding chronograph movement.
Breguet Classique Chronometrie 7727, with signature fluted caseband and six different engraving patterns on the dial: Geneva waves in the center, sunrays on the 10th-seconds dial, a hobnail pattern for hours and minutes, a barleycorn surround, strait chevron strips for the power-reserve indicator, and cross-hatching to outline each feature.
Hermès Arceau Pocket Volutes, combining the skills of gold marquetry and hand engraving, with a scrolling pattern inspired by one of the brand’s silk scarf designs. 150 hours of hand work went into the creation of the case. It contains the H1928 self-winding movement.
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième, with a Cotes de Genève pattern on the dial, a treatment that is usually reserved for oscillating weights and casebacks. The look as a brand signature, this year featured in chocolate brown color. The case is stainless steel, and it contains Jaquet Droz self-winding caliber 2660Q2.