Archive for June, 2010

The Fine Art of Patek Philippe Cloisonne Enamel Clocks

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Patek Philippe Cloisonne Enamel Clocks

Patek Philippe is most well known for their wonderful wrist watches which feature complicated movements but the company  also has a reputation for making extremely fine cloisonne enamel clocks. The exquisite quality of Patek Philippe workmanship is what has distinguished the firm’s timepieces for over 400 years. Still to date, in order to keep the  fine tradition of cloisonne enameling alive, a small team of specialists from Patek Philippe continue to carry out the rare art, which, other than being technically difficult, does not forgive errors. Their work is recognised as worthy of the great masters of the Geneva school.

The Pendulettes Dôme of Patek Philippe are decorated in cloisonné enamel. According to this technique, the coloured powder enamels are deposited on the inside of enclosures in string or gold ribbon that mark the outlines of the design. Various decorations can require up to 20 metres of ribbon in 22 carat gold in order to realise the enclosures aimed at containing the coloured enamel. It is possible to obtain very  interesting effects  and colorsby mixing the colous inside of the enclosures. Given it is normal in the case of working with enamel, to decorate the surfaces which are subsequently vitrified in the furnace, with the instructions to  apply an enamelled surface inside the metallic walls of the pendulette  to avoid the distortion of the metal and the consequent cracking of the decorations.

Reference 1551 “Lion and leopards hunting antelopes”

Patek Philippe Ref. 1551 "Lions and leopards hunting antelopes" clock.

A limited edition timepiece, made by Patek Philippe. The decoration of the pendulette is inspired by various renowned paintings of the Italian painter Antonio Ligabue (1899-1965). The dome depicts a leopard inspired by the painting by Ligabue “Leopard with the antelope”, wooden oil painting, and dated 1939/1949. The lateral curved panels recall the paintings of the same painter “Leopard with the sky at sunset”, wooden oil painting, undated and “Lion that attacks two antelopes”, oil painting on faesite, dated 1953/1954.
Antonio Ligabue lived the most important part of his life in Gualtieri (in the province of Reggio Emilia).

Those who have been fortunate enough to visit the Patek Philippe museum in Geneva, Switzerland know first hand to what extent enamel watches and clocks are as an essential part of Patek Philippe’s history. Patek Philippe displayed a dazzling collection of cloisonne enamel clocks and watches at Basel World 2010.  One of the most interesting examples of the fine art of cloisonne enameling was the Patek Philippe World Time Reference 5131. Also on display was a limited edition set of watches under the reference 5077P.  The timepieces featured depictions of  ”Native Indians of the Great Plains”. The timepieces were made from platinum and featured the ultra thin self-winding caliber 240 mechanical movement.

Reference 1552 “Flowers”

Patek Philippe 1552 "Flowers" Cloisonne Enamel Clock

Another limited edition timepiece made by Patek Philippe. The decoration of the pendulette is inspired by a renowned painting by Antonio Ligabue (1899-1965). The dome and three curved sides reproduce a vase of flowers with butterflies, bees and other bunches and garlands of flowers inspired by the “Vase of flowers”, cloth oil painting by this painter, dated 1960/1961. Antonio Ligabue lived the most important part of his life in Gualtieri (in the province of Reggio Emilia). Notice how the flowers seem to bloom before your very eyes. This is the magic of cloisonne enameling that only Patek Philippe can create.

As one can see from these photos, the enameler is an artist in every sense of the word. It is the enamelers special relationship with the art of glass, metals and fire that bring us the fantastic objects we know as cloisonne.

Harold Freeman Jewelers is an Authorized Agent for Patek Philippe and other brands of fine Swiss watches.

For more information please call 866-240-7366.

Patek Philippe Jewelry and Cuff links Collection

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

The Patek Philippe Calatrava Ring

Patek Philippe offers an exclusive choice of jewelry items for both Ladies and Men which create exquisite ensembles with the matching watches, as well as a choice of branded jewelry which will complement elegantly any Patek Philippe timepiece. The jewelry line expresses the creativity and skills of Patek Philippe’s designers and artisans. Made in respect of the tradition and high quality of its precious timepieces, the same care and attention is perpetuated in the creation of its jewelry collections beautifully crafted by hand. Patek Philippe’s jewelry line is proposed in 18 carat yellow, white or rose gold and is adorned with flawless diamonds or precious stones such as onyx, lapis lazuli or agate.

The Patek Philippe Twenty~4 Ring

Popular Patek Philippe jewelry styles include the Ladies Twenty~4 collection available in 18Kt white or rose gold. The Twenty~4 collection was created for the refined, active woman of today.  The Twenty~4 collection offers matching rings and earrings. The Twenty~4 collection of watches and jewelry may be worn on all occasions.

Patek Philippe Calatrava Cufflinks Ref. 9083R

Patek Philippe offers a wonderful selection of cuff links for men. The Patek Philippe Calatrava cross cufflinks come in several different styles all of which  feature the Calatrava cross motif. They are available in 18Kt white, yellow or rose gold. Calatrava cross cuff links are also available with black onyx and diamonds (shown below).

Patek Philippe Calatrava Cufflinks Ref. 9108G

The Patek Philippe Nautilus sports watch collection has matching cuff links. The styling of these handsome cuff links derived from the universal shape of a port hole found on virtually on all maritime vessels. The Nautilus cufflinks have a classic, elegant look that is suitable for any occasion (see image below).

The Patek Philippe Nautilus Cufflinks Ref. 9057G

If you would like to know more about Patek Philippe jewelry and cuff links please give us a call at 866-240-7366 or drop us a line at:

Harold Freeman Jewelers is an Authorized Dealer for Patek Philippe Watches.

The Watch as a Work of Art: The Patek Philippe Worldtime Ref. 5131

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

The Patek Philippe Worldtime Ref. 5131J in 18K yellow gold

The Patek Philippe multiple time zone watches belong to the category of so-called useful complications. They serve their owners well with practical functions of relevance in contemporary everyday life. A World Time watch indicates the hour in all major cities at a glance. The local time indicated by the hour and minute hands applies to the location on the city disk that is directly aligned with 12 o’clock. The crown is used to set the correct time in conjunction with the 24-hour ring, so a distinction can be made between 4 am and 4 pm. Now, switching from one time zone to another is accomplished simply by pressing the button at 10 o’clock. Every time it is pressed, the hour hand will advance by one hour while the city ring and the 24-hour ring will rotate counterclockwise by one hour (equivalent to one time zone). Pressing the button 24 times emulates a trip around the world and a return to the point of departure.
This mechanism was devised by the gifted Geneva watchmaker Louis Cottier in the early 1930s. He offered his invention to Patek Philippe first and in 1959, the company protected it with Swiss Patent No. 340 191. Subsequently, the ingenious inventor created another mechanism for the Genevabased manufacture. It was able to display two time zones simultaneously. In the late 1990s, this second invention inspired the development of the Calatrava Travel Time. With a solution patented in 1999, Patek Philippe further optimized the caliber 240 HU (Heure Universelle = World Time) movement by totally isolating the World Time mechanism with the city and 24-hour rings from the going train of the watch. Thus, when the mechanism is switched from one time zone to the next, the accuracy of the movement and the progression of the minute hand are not affected. Caliber 240 HU is an ultra-thin self-winding mechanical movement that features a 22K gold mini-rotor recessed in the plate. It beats with a frequency of 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour (3 Hz). In 2000, Patek Philippe used this movement to reintroduce the World Time watch into its standard collection; it proved to be an instant bestseller.

Watches for connoisseurs and collectors

A handmade “Europe/Asia” colisonne’ dial

The exclusivity of Patek Philippe Watches is no doubt the principal reason why Patek Philippe’s 1940s and 1950s World Time watches fetch higher prices at international auctions than any other wristwatches. Bids in the magnitude of several hundred thousand Swiss francs are now the rule, but the record today is still held by an early platinum model that changed hands in 2002 for the fantastic sum of 6.6 million francs (in excess of US$6 million).
Models showcasing a small, hand-made cloisonné enamel miniature in the center of the dial are particularly coveted. The eclectic motifs range from clusters of palm trees to solitary lighthouses, but the most popular ones are colorful, stylized world maps because they best match the purpose of the timepiece. Such a map also adorns the dial of the new Patek Philippe Ref. 5131, finally giving collectors the renewed opportunity to find a watch in this category within the company’s current portfolio.
Due to the complex processes involved in the making of cloisonné enamel dials, only a small number of Ref. 5131 watches will be available each year.

The art of cloisonné enamelling

In addition to Geneva enamel and champlevé enamel, cloisonné enamel is one of the three classic techniques traditionally used to decorate watches and dials. The motifs are always silhouettes whose contours define the shapes of the “cloisons” (French for partition, or cell) that ultimately contain the differently colored zones of the finished enamel opus. A characteristic shared by all enamelling techniques is the stunning brilliance of the colors: unlike paintings that use conventional pigments, they do not fade and retain their luster for centuries.

The enameler is an artist in every sense of the word.

A cloisonné enamel piece begins as a wafer of copper or gold into which the contours of the motif are scored by hand. Subsequently, the lines are retraced with very thin, flattened gold wire. Like a dainty ribbon standing on its edge, the wire is bent with tweezers to follow the contours and then secured in a first firing; eventually, the entire drawing is composed of a number of cloisons which now need to be filled with the enamel mass. Enamel consists of finely crushed glass ground to powder. The addition admixture of various metal oxides produces the colors when the glass is melted. After the powder has been filled into the cloisons, the work of art can be fired in a special furnace at temperatures between 850 and 900°C. To prevent distortion, the reverse side of the wafer must also be coated with a layer of enamel, the so-called: “contre-email”.
Because the metal oxides added to the powder can change their color at different temperatures, enamel work can involve numerous firings passes. The end result is a colorfully arrayed glass motif from which the gold wires forming the cells protrude. These wires are then polished down to the level of the glass layers, and in the final phase, the entire work of art is protected by the fondant, a colorless, highly transparent layer of enamel applied in a last firing process. At the end of every firing pass, the enamel miniature must be allowed to slowly cool to room temperature in a precisely controlled manner. Otherwise, thermal stresses could cause the hard, fused glass to crack.
Thus, The art of cloisonné enameling not only requires virtuosity and a highly developed sense of aesthetics. The artisans who master it must also be fully aware of the technical, physical, and chemical processes involved in preparing, mixing, applying, and firing the enamel mass. Until the early 20th century, cloisonné enameling, champlevé enameling, and miniature painting according to the acclaimed Geneva enameling traditions were precious skills needed to embellish watches and other luxury objects. Elsewhere, the tradition sank into oblivion, but Patek Philippe never stopped crafting beautifully decorated enameled wristwatches, pocket watches, and table clocks featuring lavish decorations based on venerable enameling techniques. After all, an art must be preserved in order to ensure a successful future.