Patek Philippe puts art handcraft in the spotlight

From April 19th to 28th, at its Salons on Rue du Rhône, Patek Philippe showcased its entire collection of the rare handcrafts timepieces that premiered at Baselworld 2018.

This was a one-of-a-kind opportunity to discover all the exceptionally pieces before they continue their journey to private collections all over the world.

The 2018 collection, highlighting fifty creations for dome table clocks, pocket watches and wristwatches (some with minute repeaters) pays tribute to a suite of rare handcrafts manifested by an extensive range of creations that have taken their inspiration from many different sources.

Engraving, the most venerable craft in the service of watchmaking, is prominently represented, especially with the low-relief of a galleon on a pocket watch case. On the “Whirling Dervishes” pocket watch, damascening is the ancient technique used to embed fine rose-gold threads into a white-gold background.

Among the Grand Feu enameling techniques, cloisonné enamel – with its color cells enclosed by thin gold wires – enjoys prominence on many dome table clocks. This applies to the “Cubist Fantasy” model, for example, with its cubistic color ornaments, and to other unique pieces with themes ranging from nature (birds, flowers, savannah at sunset, planets), to the fine arts (Persian porcelain, Art Deco butterflies) and to different world cultures (Indian women, Arabic calligraphy). Cloisonné enamel is often adorned with gold dust, white- or yellow-gold paillons as well as white- or yellow-gold leaf and used to decorate wristwatch dials with eclectic motifs from around the globe (Bhutan Textiles, Chart of the Caribbean, Tropical Plants, Tropical Fish).

The highly complex art of miniature painting on enamel is a grand Genevan specialty practiced exclusively by an elite of the most gifted artisans. It unfolds its magic on the backs of pocket watches or on wristwatch dials with sublime reproductions of a Vermeer painting or the exquisite details of Portuguese azulejos.

For the 2018 line up, the manufacture also commissioned other very rare and challenging enamel arts such as enamel reliefs (also referred to as Fauré enamel) with its spatial renderings that require the utmost in firing expertise, or the famous Longwy enamels on ceramics with its motifs framed in black.

Wood micromarquetry is another specialty that has been promoted by Patek Philippe for several years. The Genevan manufacture executes this exclusive technique for adorning wristwatch dials or the backs of pocket watches at the highest level of artistry. It is used to produce small, fascinating images of incredible detail such as the “Roped Alpinists” composed of 262 parts and intarsias with 27 species of wood.

The Genevan manufacture also lets its creativity roam free with several “mixed-technique” pieces that combine different artisanal skills. “Italian Scenes” is one example with cloisonné enamel dials on manually guilloched backgrounds ennobled with miniature painting on enamel. The three “Pictures in Relief” wristwatches feature hand-guilloched dials decorated with tiny gold appliques.

The exhibition also showcased two new models from the current Patek Philippe collection. They, too, celebrate the rare handcrafts professions. The first one is a limited-edition Golden Ellipse commemorating the 50th anniversary of this iconic watch. This model has a hand-engraved black enamel dial and comes with matching cuff links. The second one is the new Ref. 5531 World Time Minute Repeater that always strikes local time. The center of its dial is adorned with a cloisonné enamel depiction of the Lavaux wine-growing region overlooking the shores of Lake Geneva.

May 08, 2018