Christophe, Chopard Enamelling Artisan
Christophe

Enamelling Artisan

All the artistic crafts practised within Chopard Manufacture are aimed at embellishing a movement, case or dial and this top-flight artisanship is exercised on the diminutive surface area of watches. While all these skills are fascinating, one almost magical example is known as Grand Feu enameling. How can an Artisan reproduce the beauty of a peony on a luxury watch dial – the quivering of its petals and the subtlety of its colors – using just enamel powder, a little oil, a kiln and a brush? Christophe, Chopard's Enameling Artisan since 2019 and the man behind this miracle of miniaturisation reveals the secrets of this art.

Grand Feu enameling is an art calling for great patience and accuracy and the dial is the equivalent of a painter's canvas, except that the tiny space available for artistic expression measures just a few centimeters in diameter. The raw material is fascinating, involving sheets of glass colored with metal oxides, either translucent like barley sugar or opaque like mosaic.

These are then crushed to a fine sand and the resulting colored glass powder is called enamel. However, this material must be mixed with pine oil before serving as paint. While the ritual varies according to motifs or colors, it always begins with the Artisan coating the topside and underside of the dial with a first layer of white enamel, before the first high-temperature firing. He repeats this operation several times, in order to obtain an entirely white base.

Once satisfied with the result, he places the dial in the kiln to ensure that the enamel is flat, while taking care not to deform the base. Some enamels however, even if they appear to form a homogenous mixture, do not necessarily melt at the same temperature. And as Christophe is seeking precision, he fires the different colors separately and once the painting is finished, bakes the fired enamel one last time at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit to melt everything together.

Christophe’s work is identifiable thanks to the graceful elegance of the hands and faces he paints, as well as by his art of conveying an expression or giving life to a plant. Requiring more than just a knowledge of enameling techniques, it takes perfect mastery of drawing techniques as well as authentic talent to transform a watch dial into a work of art.

"This ancestral art requires every artisan to make their own enamels with silica, kaolin, lead and natural dyes. It's all about chemistry."

-Christophe, Enamelling Artisan

Christophe, Enamelling Artisan

Drawing of a luxury watch dial
A Chopard Artisan crushing materials to get enamel powder
Coating the topside of a luxury watch dial with enamel
Luxury watch's dial first high-temperature firing
Different colours used for painting a luxury watch dial
A Chopard Artisan working on a luxury watch dial
A Chopard Artisan painting a luxury watch dial
A Chopard Artisan working on a luxury watch
"The greatest difficulty is consistency. Once you've acquired the technique, you also have to prove yourself capable of maintaining it."

- Christophe, Enamelling Artisan
A Chopard Artisan painting a luxury watch case
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