Painted to Last: Bovet’s Art of Enamel Lacquering

Throughout its long history, Bovet has encouraged exploration and creativity among its watchmakers and artisans, and the result was and is a collection of watches that are as much art as timepieces. Today, painted mother-of-pearl dials, miniature enamel paintings and exquisite engraving continue to be hallmarks of the brand. And this focus is no small investment in time, considering that a painted enamel dial, for example, takes more than seventy hours to complete and sixty or more firings in a kiln.

The technique used to create the unique piece Fleurier Amadeo Tourbillon Dame de Shanghai is called enamel lacquering, a practice based on techniques for which Bovet was famous in the nineteenth century. It was developed by one of the craftsmen working exclusively for Bovet, and it reveals all of the qualities of fine Japanese lacquerware in its detail. Among the dial decorating techniques still revered today, this method ensures the highest definition of detail, but with greater shock resistance than enamel.

Enamel lacquering involves many successive firings depending upon the complexity of the design and the number of colors involved. Interestingly, facial expressions and draped fabric—both featured on this piece—are among the most difficult forms to render. The time required to complete such work is literally hundreds of hours.