For almost two centuries, the Maison BOVET has tirelessly elevated the decorative watchmaking arts, continually enthralling collectors and art lovers with the virtuosic skills of its artisans.
This collection unveils miniature painting variations produced on mother-of-pearl with fans as their theme. This choice is particularly appealing because of its universal nature, as fans have existed since antiquity on all continents and in many different cultures. Only very few objects have managed to survive the centuries unaffected by fashions and cultural change. But fans and timepieces share more than just this permanence. Dozens of different professions are involved in manufacturing both fans and timepieces, bringing together artists and artisans. Painters, embroiderers, sculptors, engravers, finishers and pleaters are some of the most commonly found professions, and fan-makers can be officially recognized as Maîtres d’art.
Just like watchmakers, the artisans work with many different materials including ebony, mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, silk, paper, feathers, metals and noble gemstones. Very early on in their history, fans took on a number of different roles in addition to their original function. They became an essential accessory in the traditional Japanese theatrical form of Noh, as they have done in many ancient or contemporary dances. They have also been liturgical objects, a component of aristocratic dress, or simply a canvas for works of art over the years and across many cultures.
Fans made of feathers, silk, lace or inlaid mother-of-pearl are painted on the dials of the collection’s timepieces. Dozens of hours of work were required to render the materials and their volume, with the painter recreating every single detail and fiber of the material with astounding realism. To achieve such a level of definition, the painter uses a brush ending in a single marten hair, and produces the work entirely under a microscope.
Each of these miniature painted dials is a unique piece, fitting perfectly within the 39 mm diameter Fleurier Amadeo case, available in white gold or red gold. It took BOVET seven years to develop the Amadeo case. In just a few simple movements, this ingenious patented system enables the user to convert his or her timepiece into a reversible wristwatch, a table clock, or a pocket or pendant watch for men’s and women’s models respectively, without the need for a single tool.
This collection of fans is a facet of the Art of BOVET, which is renowned for the care lavished on its customizations. In addition to the miniature painting theme, the Maison offers individuals the opportunity to have their timepiece hand-engraved and gem-set with a personal design to match it to their taste and personality.
The Art of Miniature Painting
From its first manufactured timepieces, BOVET has distinguished itself through its extremely fine miniature paintings, making the Maison extremely successful with its first clients, which included the Emperor of China. Unfortunately, the industrialism of the 20th century would see the decorative arts dwindle to a point where the know-how of enamelers and miniature painters almost died out. These crafts were protected by a rare few, and BOVET is one of them.
The painting technique used by BOVET today for its miniature paintings is the polished lacquer method, which enables it to obtain all the characteristics of Chinese lacquer. Of the various techniques still practiced today, it gives the best definition of details and withstands impacts better than enamel. Like other techniques, polished lacquer requires several successive firings, according to the motif’s complexity and the number of colors used.
The Maison prefers to use a mother-of-pearl base as it offers an ideal level of grip for the tiniest details. It is coated in translucent lacquer to reveal the richness of its iridescent reflections. Hidden by opaque colors, it forms a miniature marquetry that varies according to the design. Every dial is unique.
The artisan’s work consists of firstly creating the design or reproducing it on a scale that is generally five times larger and adapting it to the shape of the dial. Once this initial operation is approved, the design is reproduced on the correct scale and a basic outline is drawn on the dial. This is then followed by many different operations; the background is painted and the decoration and details are successively applied, color by color, using a fine marten-hair brush. Between each operation, the artisan applies a layer of lacquer to set the details in each color. Whenever the lacquer is applied, the dial must be fired and then polished. Once the final layer of lacquer has been applied and fired, the last operation involves filing the dial down to its definitive thickness using ever gentler abrasive motions prior to the final polish, which reveals the depth of the work.
In accordance with this innovative spirit, BOVET and its artisans have developed many other techniques that can be used alongside polished lacquer. Some dials therefore feature gold leaf details, while others have been supplemented by Super-LumiNova so that the miniature painting can be viewed by day and by night.
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