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Enameling

A decorative technique forgotten and mastered only by a handful of craftsmen; enamel is only used on exceptional watches. Complexity, fine details, realistic decorations and a magical ensemble effect explain in particular the intense and ancestral desire of collectors to own enamelled watches.


«Grand Feu» enamel

Usually white, beige or opaque, the "Great Fire" enamel dial has spread widely since the 17th century. The term "Email or Enamel" is reserved for vitrifiable products resulting from the fusion, vitrification or sintering of a substance made of melted mineral materials at a temperature of at least 500°C.

This technique is used for all enamel categories produced by our workshop. Donzé Cadrans ensures the entire production of this type of dial, following ancestral principles and the purest tradition, on a copper basis. All the decals, whether in black, blue, red or any other color, are also made in enamel.

The surface of the dial is an oven finish, no polishing can be done on a dial finished with enamel decals. The added subdials are manufactured from a second dial, and then tin-soldered. A dial in «Grand Feu» enamel that is broken, split or damaged in any way cannot be repaired. However, as the current production technique is similar to that proposed in the past, the enameller is capable of making a perfect copy of an original dial, an essential skill the value of the product will remain unchanged. Our workshop is often requested for museum pieces, valuables for auction or private collectors.

«Guilloché and Flinqué» enamel

It is called "Guilloché" when the decoration is made on a Guilloché lathes. The costs are quite high, and therefore reserved for a dial usually made of precious metal as gold or silver.

"Flinqué" is referred when a stamping tool is created on a "handmade guilloche" origin. This decoration will be reproduced on the dial plate by a stamper at a pressure of more than 100 tons. For these two types of production, the use of translucent or opalescent enamels will be preferred in order to highlight the different patterns made. Once the enamel is applied, the craftsmen must polish, drill and do other finishes. The decals will be made of acrylic paint.

« Champlevé » enamel

The Byzantine craftsmen took up and perfected a technique used by the Romans, the engraver creates three-dimensional pockets cavities in a gold metal base and the enameller deposits a glass paste or flow. This technique is called “Champlevé”. Most of the Byzantine enamels known today date from the 9th to the 12th century. The iconoclastic period between 726 and 787 has contributed to the destruction of most pre-8th century examples, due to their iconographic nature. The "Champlevé" enamel technique was created after the "Cloisonné".

These days, the high quality and delicate design of the technique, earn its own stature, on the same level as the «Cloisonné». It requires the collaboration of two different craftsmen, the engraver and the enameller. The engraver creates three dimensional cavities and various motifs on a gold plate to allow the enameller to deposit the different enamels.

Once the enamel is deposited and polished, the walls of the dial compartments are taken over by the engraver so that it chisels all the walls of the dial compartments and creates the effect of 3 dimensions by an engraving made of trompe l'oeil. This delicate work requires a great master of control over the pressure exerted by the chisel and an extremely fluid gesture. It takes between 8 and 15 hours of recovery work. These dials are made in close collaboration with an independent local engraver.

« Cloisoné » enamel

The revival of a very ancient technique, dating well before the Middle Ages, and extensively used extensively during the Byzantine Empire and in the West as early as the 4th century, this method consists of creating compartments or housings using gold wire in order to deposit the enamel with utmost precision. Depending on the desired result, Donzé Cadrans decorates the base of the dial either with a "Milanese" engraving (damier), a traditional engraving or sometimes using the technique of "hand guilloche". The base plate for the "cloisonné" is almost always 18 carat gold, as are the partitions.

Folding of the partitions

Several craftsmen offer this technique, but the level of realisations is very variable. These differences are often caused by the wire section used, which can be circular or rectangular. The circular section offers an advantage when positioning the gold wire because they do not move or very little during enamel operations. However, it is difficult to close the shapes produced and the aesthetic result is very weighted.

Cloisonné enameling

The enameller must deposit an even layer on each side of the partitions to ensure that they remain in place. If the layer is higher on one side, the partition will be subject to tension which will attract it to this side during cooling operation. It will take three to four layers of colored enamel and at least six to seven runs in the kiln heated about 800° to create the shallow and the deepness effects. This layer will be surfaced with a diamond file, after that we go back into the kiln to vitrify the layer and then it is polished.

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