The craft of paillonné enameling is as rare today as it was 300 years ago. It is practically a lost art. Three hundred years ago is also when the Jaquet-Droz dynasty was founded.
Today, these two legacies come together by crossing paths at La Chaux-de- Fonds, inside the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art. Nestled at the bottom of the watchmaking valley is where the Maison’s two latest watchmaking masterpieces came to life. The first – “Fleur de Lys” Grande Seconde Paillonnée and the second – “Fleur de Vie” Petite Heure Minute Paillonnée.
The mastery of watchmaking
What sets these two red gold timepieces apart is the art of paillonné enameling, an age-old decorative technique. First, guilloché work is done on a gold dial. It is then covered in translucent coloured enamel that lets the guilloché patterns shine through. Next, several layers of enamel are applied, each one individually fired in the oven. Then comes the phase that demands extra attention; for every new layer of enamel and firing can introduce cracks or flaws. At this stage, the piece still shows slight variations in colour.
It isn’t until the next phase that dainty motifs cut from a thin gold leaf, the paillons (or strips), are placed by hand one by one to create a figure. Once the design is done, the figures are also covered with another layer of enamel and fired in the same oven. This translucent coat will protect the paillonné motif.
Each of these new pieces is limited to a Numerus Clausus series of eight, and Jaquet Droz opted for two distinctive ornamental designs: Fleur de Lys and Fleur de Vie. The former symbolises kings and emperors. Emblems of a very long heraldic tradition, fleurs de lys are still found all over France.
The latter, the Fleur de Vie, is a geometric design that has traveled through millennia and across cultures. It’s a beautiful image representing the birth and growth of all living things on Earth. The form’s perfection and finesse has been turning heads from Assyria to Egypt, by way of China and France. It was even a subject of Leonardo da Vinci’s writing.
Movement: Jaquet Droz 2663.P, self-winding mechanical movement, silicon balance spring and pallet horns, double barrel, 18-karat red gold oscillating weight or Jaquet Droz 2653.P, self-winding mechanical movement, silicon balance spring and pallet horns, double barrel, flat bridges, 18-karat red gold oscillating weight.
Indications: Off-centered hours and minutes at 12 o’clock Large off-centered second at 6 o’clock
Jewels: 28 jewels or 30 jewels
Power reserve: 68 hours
Case: 18-karat red gold case set with 232 diamonds, total of 1.23 carats Diameter 35 mm Height 10.80 mm or 18-karat red gold case Diameter 43 mm Height: 12.06 mm
Water resistance: To 3 bar (30 meters)
Dial: Blue Grand Feu paillonné-enameled and white mother-of-pearl dial, 18-karat red gold applique or Blue Grand Feu paillonné-enameled and silver opaline dial, 18-karat red gold applique.