Earlier this month I attended the special event "Experience the Art of Jaquet Droz" hosted by the Tourbillon Boutique of Beverly Hills. During the event I was able to meet and talk to a Master Painter and Engraver and learn some of the details behind the art of Jaquet Droz's hand painted enamel dials.
When I hear Jaquet Droz, I immediately think of two distinctive features: two center stacked subdials and hand painted enamel dials. This special event was all about the intricacies and artistry that are associated with the latter.
Jaquet Droz invited us to become a Master Painter for the night. They prepared each seat with a dial template, a palette with various paints, a thin brush, and even gave us protective gear in case we really sucked at dial painting. I always knew that painting a small dial was a challenging task, but actually doing it was an eye opening experience! It is INCREDIBLY difficult... as in no-matter-how-good-you-are-you-will-suck-at-it difficult. I seriously do not know how anyone can paint such tiny things by hand and make it look that beautiful. It requires a huge amount of natural talent and artistry to be able to complete these hand painted enamel dials. You have to be excellent at drawing and at coloring in such a tiny scale. One of the brushes they use is as thin as a single strand of hair. I just cannot understand how anyone can actually do this by hand! The amount of detail on the dial is insane! I inspected one of the completed dials on the magnifier and could not believe how perfect it was... even with my bionic eyes, the dial was flawless. Now that is impressive.
Attending this event has definitely given me a new perspective on hand painted dials. I now have a much stronger appreciation for the art, dedication, and pure talent that goes behind each one of these gorgeous unique dials. According to the Master Painter, it takes about 40 hours to complete one hand painted enamel dial. These dials are usually paired with precious metal cases and are priced around $30K. They offer several kinds of designs and each year now they are offering a design that is inspired by the Chinese zodiac. This year, the inspiration came from the "horse". Considering what I now know about creating the perfect hand painted enamel dial, $30K actually seems like a modest price to be honest.
And as if hand painting an enamel dial was not difficult enough... how about hand engraving a precious metal to a certain design and then hand painting it? It takes about 80 hours for a Master Engraver and Painter to complete such task. These people are true artists and I tip my hat down to them. These dials are true works of art. The engraved gold bird below belongs to the Petite Heure Minute Relief Seasons that retails for $71,400 (in white gold case with 272 diamonds).
I had a great time talking to the Master Painter and Engraver that Jaquet Droz flew from Switzerland. He started as a diamond setter in Patek Philippe and later moved to Jaquet Droz. According to him, he learned how to paint and engrave at Jaquet Droz, which I find amazing considering how hard it is. If you have never seen one of these hand painted enamel dial watches in person, I urge you to do so! They are something special.
A few of the other Jaquet Droz watches on display that do not have hand painted enamel dials...
Special thanks to the Tourbillon Beverly Hills Boutique for hosting this special event.