PORTFOLIO Magazine|February 2020
Blancpain is no stranger to métiers d’art, having decorated countless faces of its Villeret models using various techniques from shakudõ to cloisonné, including even the use of rokushõ patino on Mexican silver obsidian in the métiers d’art The Great Wave timepiece, that showed off the handicraft’s shadow in depth.
For this year’s Lunar New Year edition, Blancpain has released eight exclusive Year of the Rat edition watches bearing porcelain dials, a first for the maison’s artisanal workshops.
In creating the base, porcelain powder (made up of various minerals such as quartz, feldspar, and kaolin) is first diluted in water to remove residues and impurities when the powder is sieved. The filtered pulp is then fit into dial molds where they are each dried for 24 hours before firing. Here, the process is delicate, with risk of cracking the porcelain through the prolonged heating processes. The porcelain is exposed to high temperatures of 1000°C for another 24 hours, where it is thereafter hand-painted with enamel and reheated at a higher temperature to fortify the paint.
The imagery is an artisanal interpretation of this year’s Chinese zodiac, which has been materialized to accurately portray the animal’s finest details through hand-painted strokes. A diamond-set bezel frames the complete look, while white gold main hour hands gesture the hours. The automatic-winding 1154 caliber sits in the 33mm case and is finished with an alligator leather strap.
Harry Winston cleverly uses the style of Chinese paper-cutting art for its unique release of this year’s special Lunar New Year timepiece. Limited to eight pieces, the 36mm Premier Automatic model is emblazoned in red, a color synonymous with prosperity, luck, and joy.
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