They are the face of the watch and the focus of considerable attention. Simple or monochrome, extremely structured, supremely refined backdrops for artistic crafts… or merely functional and legible : dials come in a wide range of interpretations. Sometimes their very absence amplifies the beauty of a watch.
Bulgari Octo Grande Sonnerie – A fine example of what happens when the dial simply vanishes, in order to give pride of place to the mechanical intricacies of the movement. And when the latter features a four-hammer Grande and Petite Sonnerie as well as a tourbillon, its technical splendor easily matches that of the most beautiful dial. CHF 580’000.–
Octo Grande Sonnerie © Bulgari
It is not true that somebody can only look at an antique pocket watch and immediately know how it was created. So much technique has been lost over the ages – even in those cases once the tools and perhaps even technical drawings are readily available. It may be the epitome of a first-world problem (or even “Swiss dilemma,” as I call it), however there are people in the watch and luxury sector in general who dedicate much of the time and careers to learning how individuals made matters from the past.This search for lost techniques and processes to make art started in the world of restoration. People needed to restore old art to look newer again, and in a number of instances there aren’t a lot of clues to go by. Autodidacts of the very brilliant caliber have managed to reinvent some amazing things. In the watch industry, where “old” is often the brand new “new,” the soul of rediscovering the past is a deep part of the civilization of several brands. Perhaps especially at firms including Jaquet Droz whose namesake expired a couple hundred years ago.Going back to the opinion, the face that frames the figure eight-style dials is decorated with what they call a paillonnée enameling technique. Here we have a surface that is textured, painted, and then put with a run of solid gold “paillons” that together create an appealing geometric pattern. These little gold appliques are currently produced in house by Jaquet Droz, as no one else apparently has got the abilities to make them any more. In all likelihood, traditional ones from the past were produced using a casting method. Jaquet Droz also admits that a number of the first modern paillonnée enameling watches use original paillons in the past they could recover in various ways. Eventually, they needed to produce new ones and currently do this in house in little batches.I’ve personally seen Jaquet Droz’s little, albeit impressive “artistic method” studio that resembles a combination between a development and research lab and an art recovery studio. Techniques and styles are tested to see regarding the ideal method of recreating this and other lost art which we can appreciate in new watches. It’s a good deal of small details, but something worth knowing about when thinking about an watch priced at over $100,000. That is a lot of cash, but there are certainly worse ways to spend it on a luxury timepiece.
Montre Rotonde de Cartier jour & nuit Mystérieux – Cartier’s iconic mystery display and its equally emblematic day & night display are combined for the first time in this model on which the sun and moon appear and move in turn, as if levitating, in order to tell the time. Price available on request
Montre Rotonde de Cartier Jour&Nuit Mystérieux © Cartier
Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Moon The brand’s unmistakable overlapping subdials forming a figure 8 are complemented by the mystery of an ultra-accurate astronomical moon phase, adding the midnight blue touch of its night-sky background to the ivorycolored Grand Feu enamel background. CHF 29’700.–
Grande Seconde Moon © Jaquet Droz
Patek Philippe Référence 5131/1 Heure Universelle – The prestige of platinum, the splendid colors of the Earth portrayed in cloisonné enamel adorning a dial featuring 24 times zones and a day/night indication, all driven by self-winding Caliber 240 U. Travel has never been quite so refined ! CHF 115’000.–
Référence 5131/1 Heure Universelle © Patek Philippe