Artisans don't count their hours in keeping alive knowhow inherited from the past, so this year's offering of art watches couldn't be more fascinating.
At one point the applied arts seemed an endangered species but now everyone seems enthused by the limitless creative possibilities they offer and watchmakers such as Audemars Piguet and Blancpain are increasingly inclined to share their mastery of age-old craftsmanship. At Piaget, Rose Saneuil has crafted two meticulously elaborate roses in marquetry, one wood, one wood and white mother-of-pearl, to beautify the Altiplano. Gold engraving is another technique spotlighted by the watch house this year: with surgical deftness Dick Steenman too has crafted a rose, each petal worked in conjunction with its neighbours to replicate nature's hierarchy. A masterpiece!
Other houses do things differently. To its gamut of artisan techniques Harry Winston has added a Japanese form of weaving in which gold wire is interlaced through delicate natural mother-of-pearl. Each different, all captivating, these textile artworks form the décors for the Premier Precious Weaving Automatic 36mm watch.
Every year Chanel uses its Mademoiselle Privé collection to show off its extensive knowhow, with gem-setters, metal chasers, engravers and enamellers helping write the fashion house's creative history. This year its Coromandel Flying Birds watches showcase gold sculpture. Dior's eight unique Grand Soir Kaleidoscope watches on their denim or satin straps are literally hypnotic, channelling Monsieur Dior's haute-couture embroidery in mother-of-pearl, decorative stones, polished gold petals and gemstones. Lastly, Jaquet Droz celebrates femininity through the Petite Heure Minute Thousand Year Lights, its floral décor a trove of enamelling, miniature painting, gem-setting, sculpture and engraving.