You have to keep your eyes open, possibly using a magnifying glass, to be able to appreciate all the details of these works that are barely larger than a coin. The delicacy of a line incised in the metal by the engraver’s chisel, the graded pigments of the enamel, the thousand shades of beige in a straw marquetry transform some dials into works of art … If these are rare and precious, it is more by the value of the gesture of the craftsmen who designed them than by the caratage of the diamonds which illuminate them. These exceptional pieces, published in small confidential series, are based on ancestral techniques, which, for the most part, are not taught in schools but are passed on from master to apprentice.
An animal world
In a building adjacent to the Manufacture Cartier in La Chaux-de-Fonds, the brand’s Maison des Métiers d’Art houses invaluable know-how. Here, the granulation and its meticulous assemblies of gold beads, marquetry, mosaic, enameling reinvent in turn the emblematic figure of the panther. This year, the head of the feline once again takes the lion’s share at the heart of the Ronde Louis Cartier watch (straw and gold marquetry) produced in 30 copies. Rising from the dial, it is made up of 75 straw strands of different sizes and orientations, worked in 11 colors and associated with more than 65 elements in white, yellow and rose gold, satin-finished one by one. A few yellow gold threads discreetly encrusted in certain straw elements enhance the picture, as do these small touches of enamel distilled here and there as spots on the coat. Final note of this miniature work born at the end of a work of 97 hours, the eye of the panther is colored in four different shades.