One-of-a-kind Dials: What's In a Face?
Cartier Santos-Dumont XL watch, white gold, horse motif in gemstone mosaic
Timepieces are meant to tell time, but there are some that give a certain kind of visual pleasure. Almost like a piece of art! Taking on a poetic garb, there can be nothing more beautiful than reflecting on the passage of time, held in true beauty with the best of the two worlds-haute horlogerie and fine art. Displaying a harmonious blend of craftsmanship, history and culture, the result is a timeless masterpiece almost akin to the most coveted and revered museum paintings. Throughout centuries, watchmakers with trained artisans have brought into play all kinds of artistry such as enamel, cloisonné, mosaic, marquetry and even sculpted gold-onto tiny watch dials- offering breathtaking, unparalleled works of art. Taking months to create, they reflect important facets of art, style, taste, and draw influences from life around us in their designs. We present timepieces, adorned with enamelling, miniature paintings, engraving, gem-setting, feather art, bamboo and even straw marquetry that made heads turn this year.
This year witnessed the most unlikely of materials used in high-end watchmaking-straw. None other than the house of Cartier offered the Rotonde de Cartier with the koala motif dial in a technique known as straw marquetry. Truly innovative, high-calibre straw made its way into the world of watchmaking as a precious material, finding itself alongside gold and diamonds. Known for perpetuating artistic crafts in their creations, high-calibre straw was selected for its sturdiness and sheen. The ancient technique of straw marquetry has inspired several works of art prior to its present-day resurrection by Cartier. Split blade-by-blade and hammered flat with a burnishing bone, the straw is cut with a fret saw and assembled into a meticulous design. Giving shape to the final timepiece are blades of straw, in different sizes and shades, juxtaposed tightly together to produce the desired effect of volume and depth. Each dial is known to have taken almost 40 hours to complete. Having created a lifelike effect of a koala, the timepiece is limited to just 20 units.
(Read more in the September-October 2012 issue of Time 'n Style. On Stands Soon!)
The straw used in Rotonde de Cartier 35 mm watch, koala motif, offers seven tones of brown from light to dark, displaying straw marquetry
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