Fleurisanne Engraving Artisan

A Chopard tradition

Fleurisanne engraving enjoyed its heyday in the 19th century and in Fleurier's watchmaking workshops, care was taken to decorate the movements of the Swiss watches with volutes (scrolling patterns) and floral motifs. Upon seeing a gold watch featuring a movement decorated with delicate volutes in the Fleurier tradition stored in the L.U.CEUM, the Chopard Museum, located within the Manufacture in Fleurier, Karl-Friedrich Scheufele felt the desire to revive this neglected tradition and decorate the movements of certain one-of-a-kind or very limited-edition luxury watches with the help of Nathalie, an Artisan of movement decoration for Chopard since 2004, and who has since become a Master of Fleurisanne engraving.

[A note is sustained in the background]

(On-screen text: Chopard presents)

(A gauzy, abstract close-up of the light reflecting off gemstones and metal surfaces.)

I don’t know if I connect the past to the future but I try to convey emotions.

(On-screen text: Relief-etching the flower)

(Nathalie uses a tiny chisel to engrave a piece bearing the inscription "L.U.CHOPARD" under a microscope.)

(On-screen text: ART, from the Latin ARS, ARTIS. Talent, skill, dexterity.)

[Soft piano music plays]

(On-screen text: The word ART becomes ARTISAN.)

(On-screen text: From expertise to emotion. Chopard)

(A black and white graphite sketch of the palm of a hand, surrounded by the words EXPERTISE, CREATIVITY, EMOTION.)

My hands are guided by my thoughts when I'm engraving something.

(A portrait of Nathalie.)

(On-screen text: Nathalie, Fleurisanne-Engraving Artisan)

I joined the watchmaking world 15 years ago, but from my earliest childhood I loved drawing. It was a passion, essential to me. Then I started to work with my hands.

(On-screen text: Tracing the motif on the model)

(Close-up of a picture of an engraved piece, then of a blowtorch used to heat the piece. In her workshop, Nathalie selects a tool and begins to engrave patterns onto the heated piece.)

I was taught and trained in-house in chamfering techniques, but then I wanted to do something more artistic. I asked Chopard if they wanted to set up an engraving workshop.

(On-screen text: Sketching the outlines of the flowers)

And Mr Scheufele said to me: "At the moment, there is a fob watch in the museum. I want you to reproduce the swirls on a tourbillon movement." Wow… So we looked at it with the eyepiece, and something magical happened.

(Nathalie etches intricate floral patterns into the metal. Close-up of the inner workings of a timepiece with engraved golden flowers.)

I felt like I was travelling back in time. By magnifying the piece, I was able to see where the engraver had cut it. It's incredible, it's like I'm painting a picture. I make cuts, I bring it to life, I give it depth and emotions. And sometimes, with a single stroke of the chisel, a magical glint is produced. I've always loved painting because it soothes me and when I engrave, it’s the same. I'm in my bubble, I can't hear anything, I cut myself off from the world. There's just my engraving and me.

(On-screen text: Pricking the background dot by dot)

(Nathalie uses a pointed tool to prick the deeper parts of the engraved piece, highlighting the raised patterns and swirls.)

And I will leave a mark on the world too, as perhaps when I'm no longer here, the engraving will still be here with my own touch.

(Nathalie inspects a finished timepiece with a smile, turning it over in her hands so the jewels and patterns glint.)

I think the greatest reward is seeing clients when they visit the company and they're enthralled. That's the greatest gift.

(On-screen text: Chopard - The artisan of emotions - Since 1860)

"We had this mutual opportunity: a member of our team wished to learn this skill and we wanted to give her the opportunity to learn, practice and finally make these pieces, thus perpetuating this particular aspect of Fleurier’s heritage."

Karl-Friedrich Scheufele

Nathalie, Fleurisanne engraving artisan

After training in a minting company and patient practice in imagining three-dimensional shapes while perceiving the sculpture in the making within the material; after alternating between repeated failures and beautiful hopes, she finally mastered this ornamental art, turning her passion into a profession. Seated at her workbench, the artist designs the volutes and other motifs on the Swiss watch movement bridges herself, using a pencil, all freehand, a technique requiring perfect mastery of volumes and shapes. Using a sharp-tipped graver she marks the component before removing material around the floral motifs so as to add relief. The flowers appear to emerge from the previous metal like bas relief sculptures.

Swiss watch movement Fleurier-style

That is however not enough to embellish a Swiss watch movement Fleurier-style: the background must also be finely chased, dot by dot, with the same graving tool. She then polishes the motifs, a highly perilous task given the difficulties involved in polishing gold, which is an extremely soft material that scratches easily. Decorating the movement of a limited edition of just eight Swiss watches takes one full year of work. Only some luxury watches pass through her hands, but they are unmistakably ennobled in this process. Some of her tools are 15 years old: files for removing shavings; punches; as well as gravers which she makes herself, sharpened and polished so as to ensure no trace is left in each engraved groove. In this wealth of detail, the importance devoted to the human touch and to beauty is clearly perceptible: it does indeed take time to embellish time.

From expertise to emotions

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