Watch Dials or Paintings – How About Both?

Brands like Hermès and Louis Moinet are turning timepieces into miniature canvases.

May 23, 2024  |  Joshua Hendren
Louis Moinet’s Around the World in Eight Days watch image

Watch dials that frame tiny paintings are highly coveted in the world of fine horology. These miniature artworks are the result of countless hours of handcraftsmanship and are increasingly fascinating a new generation of collectors.

French fashion giant Hermès, which started producing watches as far back as 1928, has long championed the art of miniature painting with its Arceau collection. Former Hermès artistic director Henri d’Origny first introduced the equestrian-inspired design in 1978, and it has since become a canvas for the house’s most technically impressive watch dials.

One of the brand’s latest models, the limited-edition Arceau Wow, is one such example. Colorful and daring, the white-gold 38-millimeter timepiece features the work of comic book artist Ugo Bienvenu across a double-sided mother-of-pearl dial. It required 35 hours of work to perfect.

Hermès Arceau Wow 
watch image
Hermès Arceau Wow watch with mother-of-pearl dial. (HERMÈS/ANITA SCHLAEFL)

Louis Moinet, an atelier of one-of-a-kind Swiss watches, has also spotlighted the craft with its new Around the World in Eight Days collection — a modern take on the classic adventure novel by French author Jules Verne. With this latest offering, the brand has created a series of eight hand-painted dials depicting famous landmarks from across the globe — including the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco — in precious materials like aventurine and rock crystal. To achieve this, Louis Moinet worked with specialist dial-maker GVA Cadrans, which created
each watch face by combining fine miniature painting with engraving and marquetry techniques.

While highly prized, miniature painting in watchmaking does entail certain challenges. Not only does it require hours of meticulousness and precision, but it is subject to cracks and flaking when heated and glazed. With so few examples coming out each year, however, these miniature masterpieces will likely remain sought-after — not only for their rarity, but also for their rich storytelling and emotional value.

Main Image: Making of the Abu Dhabi watch from Louis Moinet’s Around the World in Eight Days collection. (Louis Moinet)

This article is from the May-June 2024 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.

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Louis Moinet’s Around the World in Eight Days watch image Watch Dials or Paintings – How About Both?

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