Métiers d’Arts No Longer Relegated to Dials

Over the past decade, the watch industry has witnessed incredible growth in the concept of presenting the dial as art. A canvas of sorts, this space -- tinier than two inches in diameter -- has become a home for artists to reinterpret techniques and timeless themes.

By Roberta Naas

We have witnessed the rebirth not only of enamel and hand painting of scenes, flowers and animals, but also of the rejuvenation of ancient arts such as sculpting, gold working, straw weaving and mosaics.  If we lived in the age of the Renaissance, many a timepiece dial would hang on the walls of the Louvre.

With vigilance, top watch brands (and the artisans they work with) are vying to find the most creative mediums -- forever striving to work with methods never before utilized on a watch dial. They have accomplished this with such stellar results that it is evident the quest is not over.

Interestingly enough, at the same time, we have witnessed amazing growth in the realm of presenting watchcases and movements as art, as well.    As more and more timepieces emerge in three-dimensional format with cases that resemble objects rather than watches, and with movements that are keenly skeletonized, layered and tiered  -- we are witnessing the birth of an “interior” Métiers d’ Arts renaissance.

True, this artistic interpretation of case and movement can easily be called haute horology at its finest, but it is a blend of technology and innovation that yields an artistic masterpiece.  With today’s Nano-technology and precision cutting of miniscule part, and with teams of scientists, engineers and watchmakers all working together, it seems the only limit we may face is imagination itself.

However, I think it is safe to say that the nearly 500-year-old mechanical watch world is destined for new horological and artistic heights. Because from what I’ve witnessed after more than 30 years in watches is that there is no end to imagination, pioneering spirit and visionary thinking in this industry.