Published - Japanese Lacquer Technique Is Applied to Watches

Vacheron Constantin
The complex Japanese lacquering technique known as maki-e is often found on luxury pens, but only a few companies have applied it to watch dials. Nevertheless, this year Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels and Chopard have all teamed up with Japanese maki-e masters to release limited-edition watches. Maki-e, which translates as “sprinkled picture,” is a traditional multilayered lacquering method in which fine colored or precious metal dust, often silver and gold, is sprinkled to form a design or picture on a lacquer surface while it is still wet. This decorative technique uses a rare varnish-tree lacquer that acts as a protective, clear glue between each successive layer, giving the finished scene depth and perspective.

While watchmakers have been using enameling techniques like cloisonnĂ© and champlevĂ© on their dials to great effect for decades, they have largely stayed clear of lacquer until fairly recently. This year, Chopard introduced its first “L.U.C. XP Urushi” collection. Van Cleef also released a limited edition of eight maki-e watches, “Midnight Extraordinary Japanese Lacquer,” inspired by traditional Japanese landscapes. Read the whole story in the IHT.