The Art of Time 2021: The Most Precious Dials in Horology

The dial is often called the ‘face’ of a watch and I entirely agree with that definition. As the central and largest element of the composition, as well as its functional part, it defines your first impression, which, as you know, is very difficult to change. Here are some new models with sophisticated dials that I am sure will make you tick.

BOVET 1822

Throughout the history of watchmaking, dials have been created from various materials: precious metals and stones, enamel and paints, varnishes and wood... Whatever material you can think of, Bovet craftsmen have probably used it in at least one of their models over the course of their nearly 200-year history. However, the new Miss Audrey Sweet Art uses an innovative and unexpected material that has never been seen before in watchmaking: sugar crystals! The process of making this dial, which conveys the sweetness of confectionery, a child’s favourite food, is extremely complex. Pascal Raffy, owner of BOVET, has been developing the idea for 20 years, and Audrey Sweet Art has brought it to life. This ‘recipe’ is patented and held in the strictest confidence; all that is known is that, to begin with, pure sugar crystals are prepared in such a way as to exclude the influence of light and heat on them, then they are calibrated in size and combined. The last step (the application of paint) gives the dial a finished look that is vaguely reminiscent of something between pavé gemstones and stingray leather.


To celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the boutique at 12 Place Vendôme in Paris, the French maison Chaumet has released a limited edition Infiniment 12 - Rêverie Nocturne watch. This poetic piece embodies the secret charm that brings the Place Vendôme to life at night. The bezel is adorned with a thin halo of diamonds, and the sky, covered with enamel by the artist Anita Porsche, is strewn with golden stars, casting guilloche ‘rays’. Chaumet’s craftsmen, who combined several techniques simultaneously to make this, have thus managed to create a real miniature painting with contours, reliefs, shadow and light according to the laws of their discipline. A closer look reveals how mother-of-pearl accentuates the geometry of the square’s paving stones, as well as the masterfully detailed streetlamp. And, of course, there is a surprise for connoisseurs of Parisian elegance: each dial is secretly adorned with a tiny stone from 12 Place Vendôme itself, allowing the wearer to carry around a slice of Chaumet and the famous square wherever they go.


Lovers of midnight romance will definitely be interested in the Dior Grand Soir Jardins de Nuit watch dials, inviting you to visit Monsieur Dior’s garden in the quiet of the night. The extensive Dior Grand Soir collection is regularly replenished with new items. This time we are waiting for 15 models, the dials of which have wild golden branches, layers of the elytra of a scarab beetle and precious flowers plunged into darkness. At midnight, moonlight beams on these picturesque paintings, illuminating them with magical colours and mysterious shades. The same light passes through the leaves, illuminating their contours in gold, while the gemstone petals flicker furtively in the darkness of the night. In this mystical twilight, morning dew slowly appears, rolling softly over the foliage like golden drops. Each model is a separate garden, bathed in the glow of fairy lights from dusk to dawn, immersing you in a wonderful atmosphere. This supernatural aura is enhanced by a bezel carved from decorative stones and a case that is completely encrusted with diamonds.


The Italian jewellery house Bulgari presented three new dazzling and exquisite watch models: Divas’ Dream Peacock Dischi, Divas’ Dream Peacock Diamonds and Divas’ Dream Peacock Tourbillon Lumière, thereby enriching the Divas’ Dream collection. As you probably know, Bulgari craftsmen have long been renowned as skilful ‘jugglers’ when it comes to coloured gemstones. Now this extravaganza of colour has spread to the watch dials of these new Divas’ Dream styles, which celebrate the beauty of colour in the purest and most intense shades. The motif of each dial is inspired by the peacock, nature’s most colourful bird, and is brought to life using intricate old-fashioned techniques such as natural peacock feather marquetry, miniature painting, champlevé and cloisonné enamel, which Bulgari has been doing for over 130 years. Snow pavé, highly expressive individual diamonds as hour and minute indicators, and a stylised skeletonised tourbillon movement complete the picture of impeccable glamour.


Do you like wild roses? Then you share a passion with Yves Piaget that is embodied in four new PIAGET ROSES watches. Each dial highlights the rich colours, textures and volumes of beautiful rose bouquets. Their designs were not workshopped and realised by florists, as one might think, but by the craftsmen at Ateliers de l’Extraordinaire Piaget and guest artists. They have masterfully engraved rose petals using gold, carved hollows in the surfaces of coloured semi-precious stones, covered these with enamel and then inlaid them with diamonds, amethysts, tsavorites and pink sapphires - a true celebration of colour for those with a delicate nature! Each of the four dials is the result of the skilled work of two craftsmen: Dick Steenman, master watchmaker, jeweller, gemstone setter and engraver, and Anita Porsche, the most famous enamel artist in the watch industry. Dick and Anita have years of experience and are leaders in their respective industries.


The Slim d’Hermès collection, created in 2015 based on the design of the La Source de Pégase scarf by Pierre Marie, has been replenished with new interpretations: two watch models in yellow and azure shades. Almost identical designs are made using completely different technologies. Pegasus in radiant colours is made using hot enamel and straw marquetry, while the background of the dial is made using the champlevé enamel technique. The second, but no less sparkling version, is on a mother-of-pearl base with a miniature painting, against which an engraved Pegasus, with his wings woven from gold, stands out. This is not a metaphor, the craftsman really has shaped the wings using precious threads cut from thin gold sheets. He puts them in layers of different thicknesses and paints them in bright colours. Honestly, it is hard even for me to imagine how much patience is required for such painstaking work, but the result is definitely worth it!

After getting to know these new pieces, I noted how many experts in a number of different fields were required to design each dial. I hope I was able to convey to you the scale of the expertise and the extraordinary execution of these amazing miniature paintings.

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