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Shop 53 rue Saint André des Arts, Paris 6th - Email: Hello@charlie-paris.com - Tel: 0967411237

Store 53 rue Saint André des Arts, Paris 6th - Email: Hello@charlie-paris.com - Tel: 0967411237

The decoration of the clock dial: an art!

The watch dial, also called the " Watch face " Shows the features of the watch but also gives it all its identity. The dial expresses in some way the soul of the watch. A whole art has developed around this centerpiece and the decoration of the watch dial brings together many professions. Making a dial is a business of art in its own right that requires great expertise and often uses "secrets" of trade passed down from generation to generation. Today, Charlie Paris makes you discover this art around the decoration of the watch dial.

  1. Arts-inspired watches
  2. Watches in the image of artists
  3. The different materials and techniques of decoration of a watch dial


1. Arts-inspired watches

Originally the watch was only functional, today the role of the watch has changed a lot. Grossily, one can divide the watches into two broad categories, on the one hand the very high-performance watches thanks to technological advances and the other the watches jewels. That is the second category we are interested in today.

A small reminder of Team Charlie Paris : Since Wednesday 16 December 2020, the watchmaking and mechanics of Franco-Swiss art have been inscribed in the immaterial cultural heritage of humanity. Art mechanics brings together creations such as art watchmaking and brings together scientific, technical and artistic skills. This type of art uses the principles, techniques and know-how of precision mechanics at the highest level and adds an artistic dimension in order to create a unique work of art, with a mechanical movement.

Today, we will focus on a particular piece of watch: the dial. The latter corresponds to the visible surface of watch and contains many essential elements such as needles, complications, counters, indexes, Roman numerals, etc. A mechanical watch, either manual or automatic, has different movements, with more or less complications. It is important to note that it is in accordance with these technical specifications, imposed by the movement, that the creators and craftsmen of cadrans design their parts. The beauty of a dial is only the most visible expression of the movement that animates it. Its design is derived from the internal layout of the mechanisms, the workings and the complications of the movement. It is the movement that dictates the location of the needles, the counters, the various counters, and the displays that the dial presents. The arts, including classical arts such as painting, sculpture, architecture, music, dance and poetry, continue to inspire watchmakers whose expertise is now recognized as an art in its own right.  Team Charlie Paris makes you discover each one of them:


  • The dial can be decorated with a more or less colourful paint. Crafts such as miniaturist painters exist and some work for prestigious brands. At Cartier, the dial is covered with a flame-coloured paint at various temperatures. This technique requires a great deal of detail to control the colours that change with each passing to the fire. The flammated gold is also its entry into the art professions in watchmaking.
  • A dial can also be carved. Most often, they are the great luxury brands that sculpt their watch. A meticulous technique is called the gold lace and consists of making laces carved in the image of the finest textile works.
  • On the basis of architectural art, you can play on the volumes and reliefs of a watch dial. Some watch dials have glass domes, aesthetic and poetic elements such as a terrestrial globe, all enhanced by worked bridges.
  • Dance is an art less hanged in watchmaking, but which inspires some watchmakers. Let us take the example of the French house of jewelry and watchmaking Van Cleef & Arpels. For her Lady Arpels Papillon Auto-mate, the house danced a butterfly in Nature on her watch dial. This butterfly beats wings in a random way, one to four times in a row according to the walking reserve and thus produces a dance.
  • The music also inspires watchmakers who work on the sound produced by the watch. For example, Vacheron Constantin offers a resonator box " The Music of Time " Which is delivered with the watch and which allows to amplify the sounds produced by the perfectly adjusted stamps.

Beyond luxury brands, watchmakers in general can take inspiration from the arts to create an aesthetic and poetic watch. 


2. Images of artists

Since watchmaking know-how has been recognized as an art in its own right, collaborations between artists and watchmakers have become increasingly important. Artists with a distinctive style are collaborating with watch brands to create a watch model in their image. This type of collaboration also attracts new profiles, such as art lovers who do not know about the clock and discover it through this kind of collaboration. In this type of collaboration it is important to find both the paste of the artist and the style of the watch brand, to create a harmonious whole.

Artistic movements also took on the watchmaking process. This is the case of the Street Art which has inspired many models of watches over the last few years. To illustrate this type of collaboration, the Swiss luxury watch factory Zenith collaborated with the contemporary Argentine-Spanish street artist Felipe Pantone, considered to be one of the great figures on the Street Art. The Zenith factory unveiled the watch Defy 21 Felipe Pantone, which transposes the artist's kinetic universe in the watch dial. This artist is known to decommission the spectrum of colours and his challenge has been to achieve it in miniature.


3. The different materials and decoration techniques of a watch dial

The decoration, aesthetics and finally the artistic choice of a watch gives it its stamp, personalizes it and distinguishes it.

A watch dial can be worked in different ways. We will identify each one:

  • The engravings are drawings, ornaments, figures or letters on the watch dial. Executed according to various methods, the engravings have a decorative role (motifs in the form of ornamentation) or identitaires (manufacturer's mark, reference number of the size, hallmarks ...). The guild is, for example, a hollow etching technique which consists in obtaining a geometric combination of lines and curves intertwining.
  • The soleillage is a decoration made up of lines having the same intersection point that gives the part the appearance of a sun.
  • Beadwork is a pattern that represents a succession of bridges
  • The coasts of Geneva also known as straight coasts are wavy lines
  • The scissor gives relief to a shape by digging all around
  • The daytime is the creation of openings at the dial to make the movement appear. This technique is very much used on an open skeleton and heart watch.

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