A closer look at three tiny watches women the world over can’t get enough of
If you wear a watch you’ve already bought into the idea of miniaturisation. The history of horology is punctuated by a series of reductions – from grandfather clocks to carriage clocks to pocket watches and the final migration to the wrist, the watch is a perfect example of mechanical shrinkage.
For women’s watches, the dial offers another area of mini creativity – with brands able to show-off their Métiers D’Art techniques, most certainly with the help of a steady hand, 20/20 vision and a strong microscope.
Bulgari’s brand-new offering sees them tap into their Roman heritage, borrowing the decorative art of micro-mosaics visible on the floors of such treasures as the Caracalla Baths, a building restored with the help of the Italian jeweller. The Lvcea Mosaiquecomprises of 700 square gold tiles, hand-cut to measure exactly 0.78mm, each laid onto the dial, its diameter no bigger than 33mm.
While gaps between the tiles are non-existent (no need for grout here), the surface is not entirely flat, with grains of sand used to raise up certain tiles – the overall effect means some facets catch the light and add extra sparkle. Available in white or pink gold it takes one craftsman two days to lay this most luxury of surfaces.
Hermès continues its Slim d’Hermès series of shrinking scarf designs onto the dials of its watches in limited edition hand-painted creations. Dans un Jardin Anglais is (extraordinarily) painted directly onto camel bone with pigments made from entirely natural ingredients – saffron, walnut, henna and pomegranate amongst them, with individual details picked out with brushes the thickness of a single hair.
Another watch, Marche du Zambèze, sees a tropical jungle design painted directly onto a disc of mother of pearl, the intricacies of the elephant rendered with miniscule brush strokes.
Dior’s contribution centres around the 70th anniversary of the maison with a trio of watches paying tribute to the textiles favoured by Monsieur Dior. Gold thread is the star of the show as it is “woven” over a polished gold dial (in fact no weaving takes place but the effect is garnered through soldering individual gold threads into 3 different woven fabric patterns). Each gold thread is impossibly fine – around 0.02mm each, or four-times thinner than a human hair, with the finished pattern not exceeding a thickness greater than 0.5mm – otherwise the hands of the watch would not have the room to rotate.
Unbelievably the cannage tweed dial (based on the motif of the caned-back chairs loved by Christian Dior) has 4,362 individual gold threads, each hand-applied, and surprisingly only takes 12 hours to decorate; somebody in the Dior workshops has a keen eye and a deft hand.
And what do these watches prove about today’s level of craftsmanship? That creation on a Lilliputian scale is an indicator of excellence in itself, and that in this case, size matters – as long as it’s tiny.
This article was first published in The Telegraph
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