Last year, following the S.I.H.H. 2017, I wrote an article for L’Honoré Magazine, a magazine dedicated to the art of living and French luxury, on the art watches then presented during this show.
Inspired and inspiring, the S.I.H.H. shines with its Métiers d’Art featuring fabulous work. I suggest you discover this article for which I had a lot of fun writing. These art watches remain timeless.
Van Cleef & Arpels poetic art watches
Watchmaking firms are riding high in the firmament, showcasing exceptional craftsmanship and priceless talent, and striving to achieve ever more sophisticated results.
The art professions known in French as métiers d’art are the prerogative of jewellery watchmakers – and make up a niche all their own in the world if fine watchmaking.
This year, Van Cleef & Arpels has produced one of the masterworks in this field with an extraordinary item that’s a piece of temporal poetry: a painstakingly crafted table automaton, featuring a delicate, graceful fairy nymph, her head sculpted in aquamarine, watching a butterfly adorned with diamonds and opals escape from a water lily as the chimes ring.
This unique, ambitious piece which took 7 years to male, combines the finest traditions of jewellery and watchmaking. Not only that, it embodies the collaborative work of a score of art professions, shown off by the firm in a dedicated promotional video.
The craftsman includes automaton -maker François Junod, cabinet-makers Dominique and Eric Sanson, enamel artist Philippe Ratinaud, and lapidary Denis Henault, along with jewelers Jean-Marc Fillon, Patrick Houcke, Edouard Neves, and Nathalie Muller, the author of the sublime moving butterfly. In the vide, they recount the challenges posed by this achievement – straight out of another era.
Piaget, meanwhile, has outdone itself in pieces that reveal two talents: Sara Bran, the only specialist in lace on gold, and her exquisitely delicate artistry, together with feather worker Emilie Moutard-Martin. Combining these talents has resulted in collectors’ items: watches that are genuine pieces of art.
In similar vein, Jaeger-Lecoultre’s has come up with the hypnotic and artistic Hybris Artistica Mystérieuse by adding a tourbillon that displays the time to an intricate, bewitching fine jewellery watch, covered with a coat of mother-of-pearl bedecked with a string of diamonds.
Cartier, master in art watches
Cartier is also pursuing its quest for excellence. Following on from Etruscan granulation, enamel granulation, and filigree, this year it has returned to the flamed gold technique to depict an even more lifelike panther for it Ronde XL model.
Complete mastery of the technique, used to give gold a whole gamut of shades from beige to blue, is required – and has produced just 30 pieces featuring a very realistic feline.
Another of Cartier’s high-added-value pieces showing off its jewellery talents this year with is it Art Deco-style Papyrus watch decorated with some 40 carats’ worth of Zambian emeralds.
For its part, Parmigiani Fleurier (founded in 1996) bears witness to impressive technical knowhow with its peerless 2007 restoration of the Fabergé Yusupof egg, first crafted in 1907.
Coupled with watchmaking techniques, métiers d’art further enhance the exceptional characteristics of the pieces they are used for – pieces that are often unique and destined only for the keenest connoisseurs.