What if performance were not confined to a frantic set of grandiloquent superlatives ? And if the extraordinary instead lay nestled behind the scenes in an atelier staffed by meticulous artisans passionately perpetuating a skill inherited from a bygone era ? The physical stage for paillonnage is thus set, along with its underlying philosophy. In the Jaquet Droz Ateliers d’Art in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a dedication to slowness has long since replaced the need for speed. And as for the quest for precision, it applies not only to the mechanical art, but also to that of reproducing ornamental treasures from the past.
Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even if it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart,” wrote Stephen King — seemingly the guiding principle behind the editing procedure that made the new Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Automatic — that simplifies the Alpina Extreme Diver, and makes a very strong case for getting a second chance to make a first impression.Earlier in the year, the newest Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 Automatic was introduced with an authentic over-dramatic video exhibiting an ice-climber making his way up a mountain to a snowy, high-alpine lake, cutting a hole in the ice and falling in for a freezing, late-night swim. Now, as divorced from reality as the theory may seem, the fundamental spirit of the Alpina Seastrong Diver 300 and these adventurous aspirations feel somewhat warranted through its broad-shouldered circumstance, elegant applications of colour, and clean, minimalist design language. It’s rare when a watch with a base-level automatic movement comes along that truly turns heads, especially in one of the most hotly contested segments in most of watchmaking. Nonetheless, it’s even rarer when such a watch goes on to become one of this year’s most under-the-radar surprises, all out of what boils down to some very simple dial and bezel swap that finally breathes new life to the Alpina Seastrong collection.
© Jaquet Droz
The history of paillonnage is closely bound up with that of the watch company, since already back in the 18th century, Pierre Jaquet Droz celebrated a blend of mechanical virtuosity and artistic ornamentation in highlighting this rare and delicate technique in order to gold-spangle his incredible songbirds or the cases of his enameled pocket watches.
© Jaquet Droz
Today, very few artisans still exercise this art that consists of cutting out from a very thin foil gold specks or spangles, known as paillons, and applying them to enameled dials. While the first models of this kind unveiled by Alpina Watches Price Malaysia Replica in recent years were decorated with historical paillons, specialized artisans have since then developed skills that now enable them to produce their own paillons and gold motifs. Delicately applied to the metal of the case or dial, which are sometimes also guilloché-worked to accentuate the overall texture and depth, the paillons are then coated with Grand Feu enamel. Jaquet Droz currently masters more than a hundred different shades, of which the intensity is enhanced by a layer of translucent enamel. A wrong move, a slip of attention or a miscalculated firing time can obliterate several days’ work in just a few seconds. But when then enamel artist manages to complete his work, the sight of time is truly wonderful and expresses the full measure of his patience, talent and dexterity : today as in yesteryear, it takes a golden touch to star-spangle the dials of enameled watches.
Petite Heure Minutes Paillonnée © Jaquet Droz