Dialled in: Jaquet Droz paillonné enamelling

Two new timepieces from Jaquet Droz showcase the intricate craft of paillonné enamelling

Watches & Jewellery 28 May 2020

Beyond its exceptional timekeeping, Jaquet Droz is renowned for its exquisitely decorated dials, and two new additions to its Ateliers d’Art collection showcase why it’s such a master of its craft.

These red-gold timepieces, the ‘Fleur de Lys’ Grande Seconde Paillonnée and the ‘Fleur de Vie’ Petite Heure Minute Paillonnée, draw on the delicate and time-consuming process of paillonné enamelling to create their alluring and intricately adorned blue dials.

This rare and historic craft is based on the decorative art of Grand Feu enamel, another technique seen across Jaquet Droz’s watches that requires considerable skill and time. The process begins with guilloché work, in which fine and exceptionally detailed patterns are engraved into the dial, before being covered in translucent enamel. Then comes the particularly precarious task of applying several layers of enamel, each one individually fired in the oven. Every new layer can potentially introduce cracks or flaws, requiring an expert eye and extreme skill to achieve the level of perfection expected of the watchmaker’s timepieces.

The dial is then applied with dainty motifs cut from incredibly fine gold leaf, with the paillons (or strips) placed by hand to create the design. Once complete, it is covered with a final layer of enamel and fired once again in the oven, protecting the paillonné for hundreds of years to come.

For these two new timepieces, Jaquet Droz has chosen motifs that hold a special and historic symbolism. The Fleur de Lys represents a long heraldic tradition, associated with nobility across Europe. Meanwhile, the geometric fleur de vie, based on the golden ratio formula for design, has a cultural significance across the world stretching back centuries. Each of the two designs are limited to just eight pieces.