The large, central Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie booth at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris is not to be missed! In addition to “The Mastery of Time” exhibition that we presented on September 6, four highly skilled artisans and an exciting virtual reality experience await you at the booth.
We all know the marvellous Cartier d’Art Ronde Louis Cartier Filigree Panthers Décor Watch unveiled at the SIHH 2015. Jordane Emonin, jeweller at Cartier, transforms gold threads no thicker than a fine hair into filigree by first twisting a thread upon itself to make it more resistant before braiding it with another twisted thread around a small thin cylinder-shaped tool, cutting the resulting tiny loops down the middle to form fine “c”-shaped twists of gold, then delicately joining them together by pairs to form “s” shaped curls in a process that is repeated over and over again to form the metallic filigree, which is then cut into the shapes required, as seen in the photo centre below.
The soldering process is particularly delicate, with the total operation taking 3 weeks for one watch and one month if the filigree is set with stones.
Christophe Mouchel, after sales service watchmaker at F .P. Journe, details the movement he is assembling and disassembling – here it is the manual-winding Calibre 1304 that powers the Chronomètre Souverain with central hours and minutes, small seconds at 7:30 and power reserve at 3 o’clock. He shows us the two mainspring barrels with a power reserve of 56 hours, the baseplate and bridges in 18K pink gold and tells us that when a timepiece “is well made and serviced correctly it should last for hundreds of years with no need for a silicon part that would have to be replaced”.
The Chronomètre Souverain is his favourite piece.
Julien Chauffet is watchmaker at Greubel Forsey, specialized in “complications” and if you have any questions concerning 24” vs 60” tourbillons, 25° and 30° tilts, or the construction of the Quadruple Tourbillon, he has the answers. Demonstrating the black or “mirror” hand polishing technique applied to screws, levers and bridges on haute horlogerie pieces, his patient circular movements on abrasive diamond pastes result in a finish so shiny the components look black from certain angles. It can take up to 3 hours to polish a bridge to perfection; some Greubel Forsey movements contain over 500 parts.
A visit with enameller Laurent Ramat from Vacheron Constantin clarifies the techniques of cloisonné, champlevé, plique-à-jour and Grand Feu enamelling, highly esteemed among the métiers d’art so dear to the high watchmaking House. His demonstration on a dial from the “Elégance Sartoriale” collection,
and explanations of the difficulties encountered when creating a miniature portrait that takes months to develop and complete – each colour requires a different temperature of heating – leave us in total admiration.
As a final treat, we conducted the “Flying Scotsman” train in the late 19th century on a 15’ virtual reality ride that we will never forget! Shovelling coal, feeding it into the engine, applying the brake, admiring the countryside as we sped to Edinburgh while checking our railway watch to make sure we were on time helped us to appreciate the standardization of time zones that were first used by Great Britain railway companies before being universally adopted in the beginning of the 20th century. For seafarers, a “Cutty Sark” adventure is also possible.
The Biennale runs until September 18th at the Grand Palais in Paris.