Vividly reflecting the wave of enthusiasm for artistic crafts we have been witnessing in recent years, the correspondingly named category in the 2014 Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix welcomes 23 competing watches – meaning double the number in 2013, which was the first year this became a category of its own. Artistic Crafts actually made their first appearance in the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix in 2011, but were initially integrated within the Jewellery category.
While there is nothing surprising about the presence of several brands known for their tradition and their artistic heritage in this field, such as Jaquet Droz, Chaumet, Van Cleef & Arpels, Bovet 1822, DeLaneau, Harry Winston, Hermès, others such as Louis Moinet and Greubel Forsey are newcomers in this category.
Renowned sculptor and painter
Golden Sails), the one-of-a-kind creation from the Art Piece collection by La Chaux-de-Fonds based Manufacture Greubel Forsey, stems from the latter’s desire to work with artists whose mode of expression echoes the world of Haute Horlogerie and Grande Complication models. The nano-sculptures by British artist Willard Wigan, so tiny that they can be admired only through a microscope, make a perfect match with the meticulous precision with the watchmaker’s work. Nestling in the side of the white gold case of Art Piece 1 Golden Bridge is an incredibly minute three-masted galleon, hand-sculpted in gold and decked out in carbon fibre rigging. The challenge facing Greubel Forsey was to set the stage for this miniscule work of art measuring barely more than a millimetre and invisible to the naked eye. Based on the principle of the microscope, Greubel Forsey developed a miniaturised optical system featuring a 23x magnifying factor, along with systems to correct optical aberrations and optimise lighting. The case of the Double Tourbillon 30°, housing a hand-wound movement with a 72-hour power reserve, was modified to accommodate this system in a kind of porthole serving to view this ship in its real size in relation to the elements surrounding it.
Julien Coudray 1518 also demonstrates its artistic flair in a one-off model named Genève, La Rade and stemming from its Manufactura 1528 “Tableaux d’Art” collection. The miniature Grand Feu enamel painting on the solid gold dial is a reproduction of the work by Swiss landscape painter Jean-Daniel Ihly (1854-1910). It depicts sailboats in Geneva’s harbour, surrounded by luxuriant foliage in the foreground that appears to be gently swaying in the breeze thanks to the “point by point” enamel technique. The watch is driven by a manually decorated and engraved solid gold Manufacture-made hand-wound movement powering the hours, minutes and seconds functions.
China in the spotlight
Bovet 1822 whisks us away to China with its Amadeo Fleurier 43 “Barb Horse”, also a one-piece limited edition, which pays tribute to the year of the horse through this breed renowned for its loyalty and its elegance. The proud animal depicted on a painted cream-toned dial, hand-lacquered using a Chinese technique, carries a richly gold leaf-adorned saddle and harness, lit up by red accents on the tassels and cushion. The red gold case is entirely decorated with Fleurisanne-style engravings, a Bovet speciality dating back to the 19th century. At its heart ticks a self-winding movement beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour and driving the elegantly undulating hours and minutes hands.
Chanel chooses to symbolise the yin and yang forces on the Grand Feu enamel and sculpted mother-of-pearl dials of two Twin Volutes Enchantées watches belonging to the Mademoiselle Privé Coromandel collection. Manhood and womanhood are each linked to a dark or light-coloured watch fitted with a black or white dial and leather strap. The 37.5 mm-diameter white gold case features a bezel and crown adorned with snow-set diamonds, and houses a self-winding movement with a 42-hour power reserve powering the hours and minutes displays.
The Golden Bridge Dragon from Corum showcases magnificent engraving craftsmanship in the form of a red gold dragon spreading its wings and talons on either side of Corum’s exclusive baguette-type movement. After being cast in a mould to form its initial shape, the legendary animal gradually springs to life in all its meticulous details in the course of two weeks spent under the light and accurate workmanship of an artisan in the Manufacture. As a final touch, a white pearl is placed at 2 o’clock on the animal’s tail, just opposite its head, in order to ensure a perfectly balanced dial. The equally aesthetically appealing and artistic hand-wound linear CO 113 calibre features a mainplate and bridges in red gold, along with a hand-engraved Corum signature. Beating at 28,800 vibrations per hour, it is equipped with a variable-inertia balance and displays the hours and minutes by means of hand-facetted, openworked red gold gilt hands. The entire splendid tableau formed by the dragon and the movement may be admired from multiple angles thanks to the four sapphire crystals fitted on the glass, back and sides of the tonneau-shaped red gold case.
DeLaneau has entered its Hippocampe model in the Artistic Crafts category of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix. This one-of-a-kind creation calling upon several artistic techniques including plique-à-jour and Grand Feu enamelling, the insertion of paillons (precious metal spangles or specks), engraving and gem-setting – is distinguished by the luminous glow emanating from the combination of opaque and translucent enamels forming the aquatic dial base. The plique-à-jour enamelled, engraved and diamond-set sea horse appears against coral backdrop rendered in an impressionist style developed by the DeLaneau enamel artists. This underwater scene is framed by a 42 mm white gold case with diamond-set bezel and lugs, housing a self-winding movement.