There are techniques that border on the sublime, particularly when they fully capture the sheer magic of time. Take, for example, those employed by the craftsmen of the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art, masters in the art of paillonné enameling. This decorative technique, passed down by Renaissance goldsmiths, had its heyday in the 18th century, its exquisitely meticulous execution marrying the beauty of history with the promise of the present. Applied individually by hand on the Grand Feu enamel of the dial, the fragile gold elements create kaleidoscopic patterns of hypnotic beauty, which are then fixed with a layer of translucent enamel. The result of this controlled mastery of fire, color and creative fragility is set by the extreme temperatures of the kilns: paillonné enameling produces masterpieces in which not even the slightest imperfection can be tolerated.
This year, six iconic models have been decorated using this exceptional technique, bringing together historic paillons and modern creations including the bird, which was so dear to the brand's founder, Pierre Jaquet-Droz. A model particularly beloved of the artists who worked with Jaquet Droz, the Petite Heure Minute celebrates the richness of blue and red enamel in a broader range of executions measuring 35, 39 and 43 mm. The Grande Seconde is available in a version with a dial decorated with blue Grand Feu enamel, beautifully set off by the brilliance of the paillons and the 43-mm diameter gold case. An exceptional tourbillon, an ingenious complication that compensates for the effects of gravity, is housed in the seconds dial of one, while a pocket watch, which affords a precious insight into the standards of elegance in the 19th century, adds to the magic of this collection.
As rare as they are iconic, these new models effortlessly combine the colors that Jaquet Droz has made its own since the Enlightenment: the purest blue ever and deep red of the dial, and the luminous azure of the hands, complemented by the rich lustre of the rolled-edge hand-made alligator straps. All equipped with a silicon escapement movement (except for the pocket watch), these watches – eight of which have been produced in each version and engraved with an individual number – convey the characteristic Jaquet Droz style: pure refinement to capture the magic of time.
“Some watches tell time, some tell a story”
This latest variation incorporates rock fragments from the sheer slopes of the Matterhorn.
The falcon, national symbol of the United Arab Emirates, was honored in an exclusive new version of the Bird Repeater that draws on 280 years of the Jaquet Droz Art of Astonishment.
Until April 10, 2019, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Series: Treasures of Time exhibition is running at the Hong Kong Science Museum.
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