Watch expert Josh Sims uncovers how metiers d'arts are dominating the luxury watch industry – The artistry of technique required to create a new limited edition Arceau Tigre watch by Hermes, may not be apparent at first. But this particular technique -- émail ombrant, or shaded enamel -- has never been used on a watch before.
OIivier Vaucher is one of the few enamel artists capable of working in this detail on this scale.
Blancpain's The Great Wave uses silver obsidian for the first time on a base of Shakudo, an ancient Japanese alloy given a unique patina by immersion in a bath of rokusho salts.
Blancpain is renowned for its enamel painting and engraving techniques. Similar to The Great Wave, the Bonsai is another piece in the Les Métiers d'Art Shakudō collection, which is the first time this Japanese alloy has been used in horology.
Jaquet Droz has created the Petite Heure Minute Marquetry, in which the mosaic dial is made from hundreds of tiny pieces of quails egg shells. Part of their Ateliers d'Art collection this technical design was inspired by an ancestral Asian technique.
Roger Dubuis' Knights of the Round Table dial reveals a legendary warrior sat at each of the indices, each 6.5mm tall and sculpted in bronze under a microscope.
Chopard's The Happy Fish uses fleurisanne engraving to create motifs in high relief.
"It's the one aspect of watchmaking that can't be industrialized, that emphasizes the human touch," argues Edouard Meylan, CEO of H. Moser. The brand has just launched its Heritage piece, with a pocket watch-style case, unusually, enameled on the curve.
De Bethune's Dream Watch 5, has a unique sculptural design in titanium. The brand, founded in 2002, is a collaboration between famed collector David Zanetta and fourth-generation watchmaker Denis Flageollet. They are know for designs that incorporate both modern and traditional design elements, with an aesthetic that is often celestially inspired.
Lebeau-Courally's Baron employs the Liege Tapestry silver engraving technique more commonly used to decorate shotguns.
Manuel Emch, CEO of Romaine Jerome, stresses that such decorative arts need not always look backwards. His brand's latest watches use miniature painting on a lava stone dial, tattooed straps and employ enameling to create video game characters.