Enamel, prized for its durability and aesthetic qualities, is a material that has been used in watchmaking for centuries. Watchmakers often use enamel to create dials or decorative elements on watches; the process of applying enamel is known as enamelling or cloisonné. This is a traditional and highly regarded technique wherein the enamel is fired at extremely high temperatures, often multiple times. This results in a smooth, glossy finish that is resistant to fading and ageing. Grand Feu enamel is known for its durability and depth of colour. The newly launched Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Dragon (Ref. Q39324D1) makes full use of enamelling. As the name suggests, the watch is dedicated to the forthcoming Lunar New Year; it features a dynamically engraved depiction of the Chinese dragon, heralding the Year of the Dragon.
Enamelling requires careful craftsmanship and skillful execution, as the process is delicate and prone to imperfections. The end result is a dial or a decorative element with a timeless, rich appearance. Enamel dials are valued for their longevity, resistance to ageing, and the ability to maintain their vibrant colours over time. The 45.5 mm pink gold ‘made to order’ timepiece gets an opaque black Grand Feu enamel primary dial, featuring pink gold faceted appliqué hour markers, pink gold dauphine hour, minutes hands, a chemin de fer minutes track, and a crown with the Jaeger-LeCoultre logo at 12 o’clock.
Reversing the watch showcases the secondary black opaque enamel dial with a dragon engraving. This dragon is surrounded by golden clouds. The polished surface of the dragon’s body and the details of its scales are highlighted with black rhodium. To create this dial, five or six layers of enamel are required, with each new layer followed by firing and cooling — representing no less than 24 working hours (16 hours for the caseback and eight hours for the dial) over the course of many days.
This is followed by half a day of polishing to achieve a uniform shine. Powering the watch is Jaeger-LeCoultre manually wound Calibre 822 with 42 hours of power reserve. This is the same movement that was also seen in the Hokusai Waterfalls collections. The watch is finished on a black alligator strap.
Luxury watchmakers often use enamel to create limited-edition or special collection timepieces, showcasing the artistry and craftsmanship involved in enamelling. Enamel dials are considered a mark of quality and prestige in the world of watchmaking — the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Dragon bears testimony to this.