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Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday October 2, 2013 MYT 8:48:58 AM
by william k.c. kee
Jacot deep in concentration. The manufacturing time for each dial varies according to the complexity of the motif.
At the Art Of Time, you will have the rare opportunity to meet an artisan who specialises in miniature painting.
FANS of Ulysse Nardin will know that the brand prides itself on the many miniature paintings seen on its watches.
After all, since its inception in 1846, the company has achieved the foremost position in watch design through the beauty of its creations.
The first to utilise novel materials, Ulysse Nardin has prominently featured enamel in its collections throughout the past 25 years.
Since 2009, its new timepieces boast dials decorated with miniatures, hand-painted by the finest master craftsmen in Switzerland.
One such craftsman – or rather, craftswoman – is Rachel Jacot. Described as a “miniature painting master artisan” by Ulysse Nardin, the 38-year-old Swiss is a true master of her art, which requires very specific skills.
Now is your chance to meet Jacot in person as she is making a rare appearance in Kuala Lumpur at the Art Of Time exhibition from tomorrow until Saturday.
Having trained at the La Chaux-de-Fonds art school and simultaneously at a workshop for practical training in enamelling, Jacot obtained a certificate of enameller on jewellery and medals in 1996.
She worked until 2001 for Swiss dial manufacturer MOM Le Prélet, where she created prototypes and enamel dial collections. She managed the set-up of the enamel workshop division and its production logistics.
In 2002, she specialised in hand miniature painting at the workshop of André Martinez in Le Locle, where she refined lacquer techniques on dials, watch cases and movements for prestigious luxury brands.
Jacot began working with Ulysse Nardin Manufacture in 2008. The hand-painted dials of the brand’s Moonstruck, Borodino and other limited editions carry her “handwriting” and embody the fine art of watch-making.
As expected, Jacot is extremely passionate when it comes to her craft – and the company she works for.
“Over the last three decades, Ulysse Nardin has set milestones by innovating watch mechanism and applying new material. It has also invested into craftsmanship to honour the past,” said Jacot in an e-mail interview. “Miniature painting is one of those métiers d’art almost lost in the age of modern technology, which has been revived. Only few artists remain masters of this intricate technique.”
For the uninitiated, the art of flat painting on dial is similar to the technique used for painting on canvas. The master artisan uses lacquers that cannot be erased. Colours are applied and mixed on the dial itself.
The tiniest details are hand-coloured using extremely fine brushes under a magnifying glass. The dial is heated in an oven at 90 degrees between each colour application. This enables the colours to dry and remain firmly in place. The manufacturing time for each dial varies according to the complexity of the motif.
Asked to describe the challenges she face, Jacot replied: “Each dial is in itself a unique piece. The actual time spent on a dial, including the designing process, may vary from 50 to 100 hours depending on the subject.
“About the same amount of time is needed to prepare the colours to produce the dials. The mixture of colours and matching of the colour shades is almost as time consuming as the actual painting work,” she added.
For instance, the dial that depicts the battle of Borodino, with its strict and precise details, required more than 52 hours of work.
The reproduction of the Moonstruck planisphere, meanwhile, allows more freedom in its design. Nevertheless, it still required more than 20 hours of work.
In regard to her most favourite piece, Jacot is diplomatic. “Each finished dial becomes sort of a favourite, knowing that its new owner selected the timepiece for its art, and is aware of the craftsmanship and artwork involved.”
By presenting miniature painting to visitors at Art Of Time, Jacot hopes to educate them on the complex working process. “It allows me to inform them that there is more than a watchmaker involved in manufacturing a timepiece.
“There are many aspects of the manufacturing sector which goes unseen, behind the scene, but all the people contribute to the creation of outstanding timepieces which may become heirloom pieces for the end-consumer and their families,” she concluded.
The Art Of Time is organised by the Valiram-owned Swiss Watch Gallery. It will be held at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur from tomorrow to Oct 13. Lifestyle partners include Tourism Malaysia, BMW, The Star, Glen Grant, Etihad, InterContinental Hotels, Maybank and HappeNings.
Don't miss this
The Art Of Time features Cartier, Graham, IWC Schaffhausen, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget, Tag Heuer, Tudor, Ulysse Nardin, Zenith and Vertu, the ultimate in luxury phones.
During the exhibition period, there are tailor-made preferential privileges for acquisitions made:
> Receive a special edition Swiss Watch Gallery watch box, watch and jewellery box, watch winder, double watch winder or a Tumi T-tech
> Additionally, receive a special gift with purchases when you present your Maybank Credit Card or BMW White Card
> Enjoy 0% instalment payment plan available with Maybank Credit Card
> To register for priority access, log on to www.swisswatchgallery.com.my.
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