Jaquet Droz Let The Sunshine In
The latest artisanal creation from Jaquet Droz highlights the rare enamel technique of plique-à-jour
Jaquet Droz released their first Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara timepiece in 2018, as part of the brand’s 280th anniversary timepieces. This timepiece, featuring a plique-à-jour enamel dial surrounding a smaller hours-and-minutes dial, was the first time this rare decorative technique had been used by Jaquet Droz. Furthermore, it remains exceptional in the entire range of modern watches by how large the plique-à-jour enamel surface is.
Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara Hummingbird, dial © Jaquet Droz
The effect is similar to stained glass, with hollow cells being filled with vitreous translucent enamel so that light can pass through. The beauty of this technique lies in the delicacy and lightness of the end result. While traditional grand feu enamelling is already a highly demanding skill, plique-à-jour enamel requires even more expertise and experience to execute perfectly.
The first Smalta Clara timepieces depicted a tiger in enamel — an animal whose power and grace made it the ideal zoological motif for an anniversary watch. Subsequently, the Smalta Clara was illustrated with a hummingbird, representing the delicacy and precision needed to create the dial.
This summer, the Jaquet Droz Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara comes with a hummingbird in shades of green, adding to the existing models with red and blue hummingbirds. The lugs and bezel are set with brilliant-cut diamonds, giving a subtle sparkle that doesn’t overpower the main artisanal focus, thanks to the slimness of these case components.
Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara Hummingbird, back © Jaquet Droz
Plique-à-jour enamelling is similar in some ways to the cloisonné enamel technique. The latter begins with a solid dial, from which material is removed to create the indentations that will contain the enamel powder to be fired. In cloisonné enamel, the dial retains a solid base — it is not pierced all the way through. The plique-à-jour dial, however, is completely hollowed out. In another context, we would call it a skeletonised or openworked component. This hollow frame is then lightly fixed to a very thin metal foil, so that the vitreous enamel powder can be deposited in the dial without falling out immediately. After the enamel dial is completed, the foil is dissolved in an acid bath. As gold and glass are unreactive to most acids, the dial and enamel remain intact.
The latest Petite Heure Minute Smalta Clara is powered by the automatic Jaquet Droz cal. 6150, and is available in a limited edition of eight pieces.
An elegant, outward-looking philosophy that dates back to the Age of Enlightenment is still at the heart of Jaquet Droz's identity. The fine and rare handcrafts practiced at the company’s workshops produce exquisite miniature works of art and automata that combine the best of design with unprecedented levels of horological know-how.Find out more >
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