On the canvas of human emotion, there is perhaps no stroke broader, bolder than the fire of one’s passion. As one of the world’s rare Grad-Feu enamellers, Vanessa Lecci’s hand-painted enamel dials have done precisely that for some of haute horlogerie’s most prestigious brands. She speaks exclusively to Haute Time.
From enamel to jewellery and wrought iron, the Italian native mastered the classics at the Parabita Art Institute and the Academy of Fine Art. Having developed Cartier’s in-house enameling studio, she also lead the charge as Patek Philippe’s in-house enameller for exceptional dials, pocket watches, cufflinks, and guillotined pendulum walls.
With over 300 transparent and opaque glass pieces on her palette, Lecci specializes in Grand-Feu (translated, “Great Fire”), cloisonné and champlevé techniques. “The enameller,” she says, “is the artisan who tries to manage fire, metal and glass with art and technique. Enamelling consists of melting glass at 800 degrees Celsius. Glasses of different colors (enamel) are reduced to fine grain and laid on a metal plate (Gold, Silver and Copper).”
“Colored, transparent and opaque glass, thin gold threads,” she continues, “defines the subject; even infinitely detailed like a portrait. Gold leaf, gold powder, mother-of-pearl powder, etc. are ingredients needed to realize the idea.” Of boundless artistic acumen, Lecci has literally left her mark on some of the world’s most iconic timepieces.
Take, for example, Vacheron Constantin’s Ciel de Corée (Korean Sky). Limited to one grey and two blue dials, 1,500 delicately wrought gold powder stars are accurately positioned according to celestial design. Hublot’s 50-piece, limited edition Classic Fusion Enamel Britto is yet another example. Working with 18K white gold decorated with Champlevé Grand Feu enamel, Lecci, a four-time volleyball champion, paid homage to the work of Brazilian artist, Romero Britto.
From Neuchâtel, Lecci and Jiyoun Han Parrat—a South Korean native and specialist in Japanese enameling techniques—not only design for the likes of Vacheron Constantin, Hublot, Parmigiani Fleurier, and JeanRichard1861, but for goldsmiths, private clients, jewellery consultation and furniture design.
Cloisonné and champlevé, miniature paintings, and grisaille, “My art,” she says, “is addressed to every person who wants a particular object or to modify details of objects that are part of daily life or family heritage.”
That Lecci is one of very few women in the world at the pinnacle of artistic mastery is not lost on anyone, least of all the atelier herself. Talk about watch making, and you think of a male dominated field. “It would be nice to be able, in my small way, to overturn some of these patterns,” she says.
“I surround myself with women who are passionate about their profession … it is the sensations that guide us and often we are never wrong.”
Ultimately, the beauty of Vanessa Lecci’s work is not about the masterful use of color alone. Rather, it’s about living life itself in color and appreciating it. Right down to the finest detail.