1) RICHARD MILLE RM 71-02 AUTOMATIC TOURBILLON TALISMAN
Cecile Guenat, Richard Mille’s director of creation and development and daughter of the co-founder and co-president Dominique Guenat, has brought a flamboyant, fun and feminine vibe to a brand better known for its technically advanced, sporty timepieces. Her 2018 collection, the RM 71-01 Tourbillon Automatic Talisman was inspired by tribal masks and Art Deco, while her colourful 10-piece Bonbon collection from 2019 took its cues from confectionery.
Reflecting the vibrant vibe of 1970s disco, the RM 71-02 Automatic Tourbillon Talisman line is vibrant and exuberant. Ten models, each made in a run of seven pieces, feature a bold mix of coloured stones that include the green tsavorite, flaming spessartite, amethyst and more. Ornamental stones such as hematite, malachite and lapis lazuli appear in the brand for the first time.
True to their inspiration, each model bears names such as Gloria and Donna – a reference to disco-era queens Gloria Gaynor and Donna Summer. But it’s not all just fun and flashiness. Achieving the perfect aesthetic of each watch, powered by the in-house automatic tourbillon movement CMRT1, was technically challenging. Finishing operations such as sandblasting and polishing had to be done on dials just 0.9mm thick. Setting the numerous faceted gemstones – which look different under the light before and after they are placed in the white gold cases – also required many trials and refinements.
2) AUDEMARS PIGUET CODE 11.59 GRANDE SONNERIE CARILLON SUPERSONNERIE
When you combine the most sought-after of chiming watches, the grande sonnerie, with luxury’s most in-demand enameller, the result is destined to be a collector’s item – especially when there are only five pieces. In creating the first three unique pieces of the Code 11.59 Grande Sonnerie Carillon Supersonnerie for Audemars Piguet, master enameller Anita Porchet hand-crafted Grand Feu enamel dials in gradated blue and decorated them individually with antique gold spangles that are over a century old. As for the remaining two pieces? Clients can choose to personalise those dials.
(Related: Watch spread: yellow gold timepieces)
3) CARTIER RONDE LOUIS CARTIER STRAW AND GOLD MARQUETRY WATCH
Cartier never fails to astonish with the creative ways in which it can reimagine the panther, its house motif. One of two panther-themed metiers d’art watches most recently presented by Cartier, the Straw and Gold Marquetry Watch features a highly dimensional, abstract panther head created by laying enamel and tiny bits of straw within outlines formed by gold wires. It took more than 100 hours to create each of the 30 pieces of this watch – of that, 97 hours went into creating the dial.
4) JAQUET DROZ PETITE HEURE MINUTE TIGER
Painting well on a regular- sized canvas is no easy task. Executing a miniature painting on a dial measuring around 35mm across is another challenge altogether. Jaquet Droz artisans needed a microscope to paint the fine strands of tiger’s fur for the pair of Petite Heure Minute Tiger metiers d’art watches. Depicted on a black or ivory Grand Feu enamel dial, one of the tigers is white with cool blue eyes and the other is painted in more familiar tones: black and orange fur and green eyes. Twenty-eight pieces of each version were made.
5) VACHERON CONSTANTIN AND LOUVRE MUSEUM
Talk about an impressive collaboration. One is a renowned museum dating back to 1793. The other, a venerable watch brand that has been in continuous operation since 1755. In 2019, Vacheron Constantin announced its partnership with the Louvre Museum and, last November, it followed up with a one-of-a-kind project. As part of the Louvre Museum’s Bid for the Louvre auction last December, the brand auctioned off a customisable Les Cabinotiers (the name of its bespoke watch division) timepiece. The winning bidder – with a bid of 280,000 Euros (S$455,000) – can make private visits to the Louvre and the Vacheron Constantin manufacture, during which he or she will get to choose an artistic masterpiece from the museum that will be reproduced on a timepiece by a Vacheron Constantin enameller, using either miniature or grisaille enamelling. The former requires a mastery of enamel pigments and how their colours and brilliance change with multiple firings at temperatures of more than 800 deg C. Grisaille enamelling, on the other hand, involves the laying of a rare white enamel over dark enamel on a metal base – in this case, a gold dial – with firings required between the application of each layer of enamel. The owner of the watch, powered by Vacheron Constantin’s Manufacture 2460 self-winding calibre, can choose from a platinum, pink or white gold case, and customise other features such as the case engraving and strap details.
6) HERMES ARCEAU HARNAIS FRANCAIS REMIX
The private art collection owned by the late third-generation Hermes owner Emile Hermes has inspired many of the luxury house’s designs. A recent example is this exuberantly hued, diamond-set white gold timepiece that bears an image inspired by a 19th-century artwork depicting a team of horses dressed up with multi-coloured feathers. Taking a month to complete, the dial calls for the profile of the horses to be engraved on unglazed Limoges porcelain, which is then enamelled in a process involving multiple applications of colour and firings.
7) PIAGET VIBRANT PLUMAGE WATCH
Piaget’s jungle-themed Wings of Light high jewellery collection includes vibrantly coloured timepieces decorated with flora and/or fauna, such as ferns and macaws, using techniques such as wood marquetry and engraving. A standout piece is this abstract creation by Dutch artisan Dick Steenman, who used an ornamental stone glyptic technique, inlaying red mother-of-pearl, yellow mother-of-pearl, turquoise and lapis lazuli on a white gold snow-set diamond dial to create an abstract feather pattern. Eight pieces of the white gold watch, powered by Piaget’s 670P flying tourbillon movement, were made.
8) BLANCPAIN FORMOSA CLOUDED LEOPARD
The Formosan clouded leopard, listed as extinct on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, is depicted in two unique Blancpain boutique editions for Taiwan. One dial is a miniature enamel painting on porcelain and the other uses shakudo, engraving and damascening (the art of inlaying different metals into one another). Shakudo is a centuries-old Japanese art form samurai once used to embellish small elements on their swords. Blancpain employs it today to transform a gold-copper alloy from its natural orange or yellow hue into a nuanced black-grey and to add tonal gradations.