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Patek Philippe Unveils Rare Handcrafts Collection Watch Art Grand Exhibition in Japan

Patek Philippe Unveils Rare Handcrafts Collection Watch Art Grand Exhibition in Japan

Patek Philippe Unveils Rare Handcrafts Collection Watch Art Grand Exhibition in Japan

Patek Philippe launches a Rare Handcrafts collection featuring enamelling, engraving, and guilloche for the Watch Art Grand Exhibition in Japan.

With the pandemic affecting the schedules of all events, Patek Philippe‘s world tour of watchmaking arts has finally arrived in Japan, four years after the previous event took place in Singapore. Following tradition, the Watch Art Grand Exhibition not only displays statement pieces from the brand’s archive, directly flown in from the museum in its hometown, but also unveils a range of new timepieces created specifically for the event.

Among these special editions, the Rare Handcrafts collection stands out as the pinnacle, thanks to its exquisite métiers d’art decoration that spares no expense, allowing for a full expression and precise capture of the essence of Japanese history, geography, and culture. The Rare Handcrafts collection for the Japanese market encompasses forty pieces, including table clocks, domed clocks, pocket watches, and wristwatches, each being a unique piece or limited edition.

Domed clocks – the perfect canvas for enamelling

The highlights of the Rare Handcrafts are led by the domed clocks, a signature of the Genevan watchmaker, standing over 21.3 cm tall and stretching over 12.8 cm in diameter. Their sheer size makes them the perfect canvas for elaborate cloisonné enamel, historically found on larger objects such as vases.

Patek Philippe domed clock collections
Patek Philippe domed clock collections

Patek Philippe has launched a series of domed clocks, among which three distinctly embody the essence of Japanese artistry. The standout model is the ref. 20140M-001 “Calligraphy”, featuring a floral backdrop in natural-looking colour combinations of green and gold. The intricate floral pattern is the result of painstaking cloisonné enamel work, requiring a remarkable 33 metres of gold wire. The wire is carefully cut, folded, and affixed to the surface of the clock, forming the precise outline of the pattern before the enamel is delicately painted within. Each side of the clock requires up to 13 firings to complete the floral painting, followed by the calligraphy written on top of it, also in enamel. The final process necessitates an additional 7 firings to set everything together.

The hour ring is rendered in mother of pearl, giving it a natural palette and lustrous sheen that complements the enamel painting well
The hour ring is rendered in mother of pearl, giving it a natural palette and lustrous sheen that complements the enamel painting well

Also intriguing, but in a completely different style, is the Ref. 20141M-001 “Japanese Stamps” clock, featuring a warm and nostalgic palette in rose gilt and black. Each side of the clock showcases a unique stamp design depicting Japan’s famous architecture and natural landscapes, such as the torii gate marking the entrance to a sacred space and Mount Fuji. Similar to the “Calligraphy” clock, the stamp design is created using cloisonné enamel. However, an additional technique is employed here: the centre of each stamp is first engraved with lines and then covered with translucent enamel. The combination of the horizontal stripes and the warm brown colour evokes a nostalgic sensation, reminiscent of aged stamps.

From left: Ref. 20140M-001 “Calligraphy”, Ref. 20141M-001 "Japanese Stamps" and Ref. 20137M-001 "Hanami"
From left: Ref. 20140M-001 “Calligraphy”, Ref. 20141M-001 “Japanese Stamps” and Ref. 20137M-001 “Hanami”

The third highlight, the Ref. 20137M-001 “Hanami,” beautifully depicts the vibrant colours of Japan’s natural landscape and cultural heritage, which is a characteristic shared by other Patek Philippe creations for various countries. Although it embraces a souvenir style, the “Hanami” remains intricate and captivating. Not only is it crafted with cloisonné enamel, but it also requires a significant amount of miniature painting between the wires to bring the scene to life. The quality of the enamelling is evident, resulting in a lively portrayal of Japan’s spring season and the cherished tradition of hanami, where people gather to appreciate the blossoming sakura flowers.

Pocket watches – exquisite watches and stands

Another fascinating genre to explore is that of pocket watches. These timepieces are not only adorned with lavish decorations on the dial but also boast artisanal or sculptural cases and stands. With the scarcity of mechanical pocket watches today, the complete set with perfectly matching stands becomes truly exceptional. It serves as a delightful reminder of the past and stands as a testament to the core purpose driving Patek Philippe’s annual debut of the Rare Handcrafts collection – to preserve and celebrate these cherished traditions.

Patek Philippe pocket watch collections
Patek Philippe pocket watch collections

The standout enamelled model in question is the ref. 995/135G-001 “Eagle”. Every aspect of this watch exudes intrigue and exquisite craftsmanship, from the vibrant grand feu enamel dial in a striking pink hue to the delicate painting on the back. The depiction of the eagle showcases the mastery of three enamelling techniques: cloisonné enamel for creating precise outlines of the tree and leaves, paillonné enamel for embedding golden flakes into the branch to mimic leaves, and, most notably, and a remarkable miniature painting of the eagle itself. The quality of the enamelling is clearly evident, and it is further emphasised by the signature “A. Porchet” at the bottom. While dials bearing the “AP” signature indicate pieces crafted by Anita Porchet’s workshop, the “A. Porchet” signature signifies that the decoration was entirely executed by Ms. Porchet herself.

To complement the painting, the case flank and bezel are adorned with enamel and embellished with gold flakes using the paillonné enamelling technique
To complement the painting, the case flank and bezel are adorned with enamel and embellished with gold flakes using the paillonné enamelling technique

Another noteworthy highlight is the ref. 995/131G-001 “Portrait of a Samurai,” which presents a lifelike depiction of a samurai adorned in armour. What sets this timepiece apart is the use of wood marquetry instead of enamel for the painting. This technique involves assembling the artwork using tiny pieces of wood. Patek Philippe has employed a remarkable 53 species of wood, utilising a total of 1,000 wood pieces for the marquetry. Although the wood pieces are arranged in a pixel-like manner, they are incredibly small and smooth, resulting in a realistic final depiction. Notably, this represents the most intricate wood marquetry ever produced by Patek Philippe.

Ref. 995/131G-001 "Portrait of a Samurai," which presents a lifelike depiction of a samurai adorned in armour
Ref. 995/131G-001 “Portrait of a Samurai,” which presents a lifelike depiction of a samurai adorned in armour

There are a few more beautifully crafted pocket watches, each featuring a unique aesthetic and requiring different combinations of decoration, including enamelling and engraving. Please enjoy the pictures below.

The ref. 995/134G-001 "Shizuoka and Mount Fuji" exhibits intricate paintings on both sides of the dial, complemented by additional engraving on the back, making it one of this year's most elaborate pocket watches.
The ref. 995/134G-001 “Shizuoka and Mount Fuji” exhibits intricate paintings on both sides of the dial, complemented by additional engraving on the back, making it one of this year’s most elaborate pocket watches.

The ref. 992/158J-001 "Kyudo" combines guilloche and flinqué enamel techniques. Notably, the watch stand takes the creative form of an arrow, complementing the miniature painting of the archer.
The ref. 992/158J-001 “Kyudo” combines guilloche and flinqué enamel techniques. Notably, the watch stand takes the creative form of an arrow, complementing the miniature painting of the archer.

The ref. 992/178J-001 "Katagami" embraces a simple yet captivating concept, incorporating geometrical patterns and engraving to create a muted motif, resulting in a design that conveys depth and elegance.
The ref. 992/178J-001 “Katagami” embraces a simple yet captivating concept, incorporating geometrical patterns and engraving to create a muted motif, resulting in a design that conveys depth and elegance.

Wristwatches – métiers d’art and haute horlogerie

Next up are wristwatches, with Patek Philippe introducing 18 new versions. Among them, you’ll find the classic time-only Calatrava and Ellipse models, where the entire dial serves as a canvas for decoration. However, the most intriguing timepieces are those that combine both métiers d’art and haute horlogerie.

First on the list is the ref. 5538G-016 “Tiger,” a 37 mm hand-wound Calatrava that boasts a tourbillon and a minute repeater. The dial depicts a roaring tiger gazing at the crescent moon, created using cloisonné enamelling. Gold wires form the tiger’s fur and outline, while vibrant enamel fills the spaces. The solid white gold caseback enhances the timepiece’s solidity, and the “Officer’s” style case back allows a glimpse of the movement.

Ref. 5538G-016 "Tiger"
Ref. 5538G-016 “Tiger”

Another intricate wristwatch is the ref. 7000/50G-011 “Bird on a Red Maple,” a 33.9 mm wide ladies’ timepiece that includes a minute repeater. The dial showcases a bird perched on a branch against a light green background, with a subtle gradient from top to bottom. The bird and tree are meticulously crafted using cloisonne enamel, while additional miniature painting brings out the intricate details.

Ref. 7000/50G-011 "Bird on a Red Maple"
Ref. 7000/50G-011 “Bird on a Red Maple”

Table clocks – cartographic objets d’art

Ref. 25014M-001 "Tokyo as the Crow Flies"
Ref. 25014M-001 “Tokyo as the Crow Flies”

Last but not least, Patek Philippe also offers five table clocks, modelled after a design from the 1950s. The latest additions measure 5.35 cm tall and 12.6 cm wide, each featuring unique Japanese maps on the dial and case. Among them, the standout model is the ref. 25014M-001 “Tokyo as the Crow Flies,” showcasing the exact stylized bird’s-eye view of Tokyo’s streets found on the limited edition wristwatch ref. 5531R-014. These table clocks provide an extended view of the street due to their larger size, allowing for more intricate decoration. The dial of the table clock is adorned with both barleycorn guilloche and cloisonne enamel, representing a further step in craftsmanship compared to the wristwatch. However, the colours have been toned down, resulting in a more subdued appearance.

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