Enamel Timepieces Inspired by Nature
by roberta naas
The world’s top luxury watch brands are celebrating the beauty of nature with exquisitely designed enamel timepieces.
From Van Cleef & Arpels, this Midnight Chance Cerf Extraordinary Dial timepiece (price on request) features onyx sculpting and champlevé, cabochonné, and paillonné enamel work for a superbly bold dial. Crafted in 18k rose gold, the watch houses the Swiss mechanical 800P automatic movement.
The beauty and elegance of the natural world have inspired some of the most prestigious watch brands, which deftly convey these qualities on luxury enamel timepieces that delight the senses. Sometimes their highly skilled craftsmen hand-paint exquisite renderings of animals onto enamel dials to produce the incredible allure of these watches, while at other times they turn to techniques such as cloisonné and grand feu to create their motifs. In either case, it’s no easy feat to fashion these true works of art. To emulate nature on the wrist requires that artists work tirelessly for hundreds of hours with a fine-hair brush. An artistic dial can take anywhere from a week to a month or more to complete, depending on the complexity of the scene and the number of paintings and firings needed. Naturally, these timepieces are rare, unique, and command top dollar—but sophisticated connoisseurs who covet the artistry of fine watches know they’re worth every penny of it.
Jaquet Droz honors the art of enamel and the beauty of nature in this Petite Heure Minute Horses watch ($30,500). In a traditional technique, the brand’s artist has created a painting of two Arabian thoroughbreds on an ivory grand feu enamel dial. The watch houses a self-winding movement, and just 88 pieces will be produced.
photography by jeff crawford