Watches Wednesday: Jaeger-LeCoultre's "Métiers Rares" Exceptional Reverso Pieces
14 March 2018

Watches Wednesday: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s “Métiers Rares” Exceptional Reverso Pieces

Jaeger Le-Coultre has always incorporated works by the great artists, and reproducing them as enamelled miniatures on one side of their iconic Reverso timepieces. This time around, the Maison wanted to tread into unchartered territory by utilising 3 iconic styles that have never been applied to enamel-work before: pointillism, ink wash painting, and Japanese woodblock printing. These very different techniques were applied to the Reverso Tribute Enamel, with a special white gold case that was especially created for these little, yet complex, artworks.

First up, the Reverso Tribute Enamel, featuring A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1886) by Georges Seurat. 

Jaeger LeCoultre Metiers Rares Reverso Tribute Enamel Georges Seurat

For this piece, a 100-year-old machine was utilised to guilloché the dial with small lozenges, which are embossed under a deep green translucent enamel. Hours of research was required, in order to ensure that the colour matched the painting on the reverse. This artwork by neo-impressionist French artist Georges Seurat is representative of pointillism – a painting technique which refers to the ways in which small and distinct dots of colour are applied to create an entire piece of art. Depicting the banks of the Seine near Paris, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte took two years to complete.

Over 70 hours of work went into reproducing this painting in miniature form using the pointillist technique. The enameller even had to create his own tools, which included an extremely fine yet hard brush that had to be frequently replaced. Once the painting was completed, several layers of protective enamel had to be superimposed on one another, which, in turn, affected the intensity of colours.


Jaeger Le Coultre Metiers Rares Reverso Tribute Enamel Xu Beihong

Next, the Reverso Tribute Enamel inspired by a Xu Beihong painting.

One of China’s most prolific painters of the 20th Century, Xu Beihong was known for his oil paintings, pastels, drawings, and calligraphy. He was particularly renowned for his representations of horses in his artworks. The original piece of art from which this piece was adapted featured 10 horses on a 5m-wide painting, but only two horses were chosen for this timepiece. The trickiest part for the enameller was to capture the sense of movement, strength, and energy of the pair of galloping horses with the ink wash technique. Creating the artwork entirely in monochrome, too, proved to be a feat in itself, especially for enamellers, who are used to working with colours.


Jaeger LeCoultre Metiers Rares Reverso Tribute Enamel Katsushika Hokusai

This Reverso Tribute Enamel features Katsushika Hokusai’s work, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa – one of the artists’s most iconic works that was a part of his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. In keeping with the theme, the watch’s dial was guillochéd with small waves in a vivid ocean blue covered with translucent enamel.

For this timepiece, the Jaeger-LeCoultre artisans actually had to study Japanese woodblock printing techniques. One of the main challenges when it came to this piece was the reproduction of the calm and smooth sky, without a single brushstroke visible on the finished product, as well as the movement of the waves and splashes of foam that could not afford to appear as overly turbulent. Out of the 3, this was the hardest to create.

Each of these “Métiers Rares” models are Limited Editions, with just 8 pieces available globally at select Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques.

My favourite would definitely be the one with Seurat’s artwork because the colours just add another dimension to the timepiece.

Images courtesy of Jaeger-LeCoultre