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Colour - Gazing into the whites of the hours

Colour Gazing into the whites of the hours

After years of chromatic variations, the white dial is back with a vengeance and has never been quite so pure and intense.

Following blue, grey, red and green, the big trend for coloured dials is currently taking a ‘milky’ break, with record numbers of white dials appearing in 2014. Aside from being the most elegant colour in the repertoire, it is also the purest and paradoxically one of the most difficult to achieve. White can indeed be interpreted through an endless range of shades that unfortunately tend to fade and degrade over time. Nonetheless, the 2014 version of white is intensely white and luminous. This absolute colour is therefore extremely demanding by its very nature.

This uncompromising white goes hand in hand with grand feu enamel – a prestigious technique if ever there was one, and one that requires a very special skill set. Even with such thoroughly mastered expertise, an experienced dial-maker nonetheless has to discard at least one out of every two dials. The copper plate base is glazed in the oven several times over in order to melt the white enamel at high temperatures. Each firing entails the risk of the plate runs buckling and the layer cracking – especially during the final glazing with the fondant or flux, a protective transparent enamel that gives the colour its full depth. All of this is without even mentioning the different steps of polishing the enamel, a process that eliminates the small surface bubbles formed during firings and which are a sign of extremely high-quality enamel. This is what it takes to ensure that the intense and most luminous whites are produced and serve to adorn creations by Blancpain, Julien Coudray and Breguet.



But aside from these costly artisanal creations, whiter-than-white white is benefitting from progress in dial-making. By using the most sophisticated lacquers and varnishes, brands such as Grand Seiko, Maurice Lacroix and Zenith are achieving results of exemplary clarity that are all the more pristine by virtue of the fact that the white effect can be extended over the entire watch. This is exactly what Chanel has done on the white ceramic of its J12, which is even more neutral when a few blue numerals brighten up the overall picture. Case, bracelet, dial and bezel thus all end up glistening as white as the driven snow.




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