Baselworld 2019: Beautiful Enameling Art in Haute Horlogerie
22 March, 2019
Since the seventeenth century, enamelers’ talents started to be much in demand to ornament watchcases and decorate dials. Unfortunately, nowadays it’s an endangered craft which can only be admired in special events which unite the finest luxury brands in the watchmaking field, as Baselworld 2019.
Enamel is a vitreous substance based on silica sand. It is transparent (known as fondant) and may be colored by adding metal oxides. Crushed to a fine powder and washed repeatedly, it is mixed with water to make a paste. After the surface of an object is meticulously prepared and a base coat added, the paste is applied to the areas to be enameled. Once dry, this paste is fired in a kiln at temperatures exceeding 800°C, fusing to the metal base and becoming extremely hard and stable. Depending on the intricacy of the design, a model can return to the kiln up to 12 times.
Enameling was stylish in the Byzantine era and blossomed at the end of the Middle Ages, particularly in regions where porcelain was made. But the technique remained in use until the present day, especially in watchmaking.