* Text by Joe Kwan *
I was reticent to attend this event upon invite; mainly due to the fact that I know absolutely nothing about regular timepieces, let alone luxury timepieces. As much as I hate admitting to being a millennial cliche, my mobile phone is hardly ever out of sight (I panic slightly when it is, but shhh!) and over time, it has become my method of choice to tell the time. I can feeeeeel the disapproval of proper adults everywhere as I typed the previous sentence.
Still, with an open mind, I gussied up and headed over to Starhill on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, hoping to gain new perspective on the subject of timepieces. 30 seconds inside the Jaeger-LeCoultre boutique and I immediately understood why luxury timepieces are considered the hallmark of quality living.
Rows and rows of watches displayed immaculately.
A fairly intimate event, these soirees for selected media and guests are put together by Jaeger-LeCoultre every month to introduce different methods and skills used in their watchmaking process so that people know exactly what they are paying for when purchasing a Jaeger-LeCoultre piece. This month’s theme was Enamelling!
Professional-looking dossiers dotted the boutique, for guests to pick up and peruse.
What sets Jaeger-LeCoultre’s enamelling apart is the fact that they feature miniature paintings. A century-old art that had disappeared was revived in 1994, resulting in exquisite and one-of-a-kind works of art in the form of timepieces.
It is a painstaking process which requires copious amount of patience — to layer the coats of enamel and metallic oxide pigments to decorate the piece, which is then fired several times to achieve the desired hue. Taking a multitude of aspects into consideration, the enamel artist has to demonstrate the best precision in decorating, to ensure a smooth running of the watch mechanism. The miniature enamel paintings then have to undergo even more layers of transparent enamel, serving as both a protective layer and also to enhance the depth of colours. They are then fired at high temperatures, which is also risky as a slight mistake would ruin hours of hard work. Just reading this process is a lot to take in, imagine executing it!
The star of the event however, were two pieces on display.
The first being a vintage enamel pendant watch. This sort of artistry doesn’t exist anymore, and the pictures really don’t do it justice. The attention to detail even on the tiniest parts are absolutely breathtaking!
The second piece is the iconic Reverso, featuring a miniature Renaissance enamel painting in the background. Not only that, this watch also features a small dial on the top right corner, which allows the wearer to conceal the painting if desired.
A model wearing a piece from the collection.
Everyone crowding around curiously to witness a demonstration of how the dial works to conceal the painting.
Here are some closeup shots provided by Jaeger-LeCoultre so everyone can admire the great attention-to-detail up close.
This piece is part of the exclusive Continents series; a 3-piece series depicting the face of our planet, presented on the Master Grand Tourbillon model to celebrate Jaeger-LeCoultre’s splendid achievement in enamelling.
This version of the Master Grand Tourbillon features sapphire crystals; with a miniature painting of cranes, an age-old symbol of longevity, and delicate bamboos which are all painstakingly painted.
Similar to the Reverso shown above; this model, commissioned by a private British art collector, features the famous and valuable oil painting by Lord Leighton, called ‘Pavonia”.
Needless to say, this trip wasn’t wasted as I definitely learnt something new. While I may not be able to afford any sort of luxury timepiece anytime soon, consider my interest piqued!
To learn more, visit www.jaeger-lecoultre.com, or head on over to the Jaeger-Lecoultre boutique in Starhill Gallery!