Perpetuating knowhow inherited from the past, the applied arts continue to delight us and incite new vocations.
Some feared the applied arts might die out, but this infinite source of creativity triggers numerous initiatives with the aim of preserving age-old crafts that are an integral part of watchmaking's history. One proof is the Métiers de Haut Artisanat limited editions that Patek Philippe launched in late 2014 to celebrate its 175th anniversary: marquetry, grisaille painting and guilloché work showcased in 40 masterpieces.
In 2012 Harry Winston caught our attention with feather artistry, and now its 42mm automatic Midnight Feathers has donned a pretty marquetry coat of domestic goose feathers. Van Cleef & Arpels uses these painstaking techniques poetically to tell us stories: its Charms Extraordinaire Langage des Fleurs collection employs miniature painting on mother-of-pearl, sculpture and cabochon enamelling to create flowers bearing messages of love. Demonstrating rare skills is part of Hermès's DNA. The Cape Cod Zebra Pegasus watch borrows its motif from a silk square designed by Alice Shirley. On the dial, two delicate arts, engraving and grand feu enamelling, are showcased through the techniques of miniaturising, for the zebra, and cloisonné, for the wings. Finally, Jaquet Droz's Les Ateliers d'Art collection stands out through sheer excellence. The Bird Repeater Geneva automaton watch combines a minute repeater with a host of decorative crafts bringing a pair of goldfinches to life, while in a series of eight watches the Petite Heure Minute Butterfly Journey displays a charming décor of grand feu or champlevé enamel, engraving and painting.