A look at the artistic techniques that the six finalists in the Artistic Crafts category of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2017 showcase takes us from a small village in the Val-de-Travers in Switzerland as far as Japan. A cabinet of curiosities including camel bones, Longchamp, peonies, Jokers, duck feathers, Copernicus, lasers and Japanese lacquerwork gives a glimpse of the poetic diversity of these artistic pieces, that might be inspired by astronomy, the cinema or flowers.
Gravure fleurisanne is the star of the L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony by Chopard, taking its name from the village of Fleurier, where the technique was developed in the 19th century. The relief engraving is executed by an artisan, who carves away the metal around the motif, making it stand proud of the background. The flowers and arabesques typical of fleurisanne engraving go back to the name of the village, which was known for its abundant flowers. Chopard has chosen peonies to decorate the eight pieces in this limited edition. The gilded diamond-set blooms stand out against the finely stippled white gold background, and the bridges and micro-rotor of the self-winding manufacture movement are given the same gilding and carving treatment.
L.U.C XP Esprit de Fleurier Peony © Chopard
Persian miniature-painting, laquer and feathers
Our next stop is the middle-east and ancient Persian miniature-painting, an art well-known from book illustrations. Powdered camel bone was often used in these fantastically detailed paintings, which were executed with brushes made of squirrel or Persian cat hairs. Hermès uses this Oriental technique and material for the dial of the Slim Promenade de Longchamp, illustrated with a romantic Parisian scene inspired by a 1960s scarf design by Philippe Ledoux. The equally ancient technique of Japanese lacquer features on the dial, bridges and double caseback of the one-of-a-kind Aki-No-Kure watch by Voutilainen. The famous Unryuan studio has depicted an abstract autumnal scene inspired by philosophical reflections on the circle of life. Feather work is another traditional craft, born in France at the end of the 16th century. The art reached its zenith in dressmaking and millinery from 1860 up to the outbreak of the First World War. Here, miniature feather marquetry occupies the entire dial of the limited edition presented by Piaget this year. The feather artist who created the piece selects the feathers (duck, peacock and cockerel), cleans them with soap, stabilises them with steam, recuts, smooths and assembles them into a harmonious multicoloured iridescent pattern. The large feathers on the strap recall the flamboyant feathered decorations commonly seen in the headwear fashions of yesteryear.
Aki-No-Kure de Voutilainen et Altiplano Art & Excellence Marqueterie de Plumes de Piaget
In 2016, Vacheron & Constantin- Lecoultre Watches Replica published a needed refresh of its just sport watch set, the Overseas. This included a slew of members of the Australian household which range from an ultra-thin two-hand model, a perpetual calendar, the Australian Straightforward Date, as well as the National Chronograph. These latter two models each introduced new, contemporary moves which in my view were important to the future achievement of exactly what the Australian collection ought to mean for Vacheron Constantin. Now I spend time with the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph 5500V family of timepieces within my latest aBlogtoWatch watch review.I discovered the modern Overseas Chronograph for a somewhat decent watch with welcome features and a comfortable fit on the wrist. On paper, Vacheron Constantin offers more or less all lovers of this incoming Overseas watch collection seemed to want in an updated model. That said, I found something lacking in the design and general presentation. When it comes to price, character, and poise, I think the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Chronograph misses at some too many areas to be a genuinely iconic watch. With that said, it’s most certainly a fantastic pick for a specific buyer.I’ll begin by discussing some of my larger problems with the watch, then proceed to mention more small nitpicks below while also espousing the merits this watch most certainly has. I will say that Vacheron Constantin has in most ways upgraded the existing Overseas watch collection with a new product that is certainly more desirable in most ways.Even at a retail price dangerously near $30,000, the Overseas range has some serious competition from at least two other brands. I really don’t always discuss rival watches into a piece I’m reviewing – and I’ve a great deal of great reasons for that. With that said, in certain cases, discussing the contest is quite important. This is particularly true when a watch is not just a tool, but a bona fide lifestyle piece. That means being expensive, and being prestigious is a core component of the ownership experience of a Vacheron Constantin, or competitor brands like Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe.
The pièce de résistance in this category is the Métiers d’Art watch by Vacheron Constantin, which combines innovative laser sculpture, used to cut out the sapphire zodiac signs, traditional gold engraving (the Earth and the Sun), graining (the sea) and hand-painting for the midnight blue dial background. This technical inventory does not do justice to the beauty of the piece, however. The mysterious transparency of the superb zodiac symbols, inspired by drawings by 17th-century cartographer Andreas Cellarius, contrasts with the glowing sun in the centre. The Earth and Moon are animated in accordance with the rules of astronomy by a highly precise mechanism that requires correction by just one day every 8000 years! The cosmic scene is undisturbed by hands: the hours and minutes are indicated by two gold triangles that revolve discreetly around the outside of the dial.
Konstantin Chaykin’s Joker watch uses the moon to animate the smile of the pop-art-inspired face, and the hours and minutes are its eyes. This eccentric piece is unquestionably the enfant terrible of this category!
Joker de Konstantin Chaykin
Watch the ceremony