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The marquetry-maker

A miniaturist marquetry-maker is particularly deft, methodical, painstaking, and precise; he reads in the grain of the wood exactly what he will do with each tiny shape cut from that original leaf-thin veneerMarquetry is a decorative technique used traditionally on furniture, smaller wooden objects and pictorial panels, and is a relatively recent arrival in the watchmaking world. To adorn an object or create a work of art on a panel, the marquetry-maker uses a choice of different woods in a wide variety of colors, which he cuts, assembles and applies according to his inspiration and the motifs chosen or imposed. When the decoration is geometric, the correct term is “parquetry”; but in either case it may be abstract or figurative, and its creator will have access to a vast palette of shades, which he combines according to his taste. He may work with up to 130 wood types, selecting from up to 60 or 70 natural tints, not counting the woods that he has stained in advance. The principle is always to cut the veneers according to a drawing and glue them to a base.

Marquetry has its origins in Ancient Greece, where wooden objects were inlaid with different materials. The practice fell out of favor at the time of the Roman Empire and then re-emerged in Italy during the Middle Ages. It blossomed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, particularly in France in the work of André-Charles Boulle.

This celebrated cabinetmaker developed a technique that is still in use today, although it came close to extinction in the twentieth century. It consists of stacking sheets of veneer into blocks, which are then cut with a fretsaw or a marquetry-cutter’s chevalet – a sawbuck incorporating a saw with a very fine blade.The assembled pieces are stuck down with hot glue and pressed. To achieve additional shading and a sense of depth, along with the right thickness and a perfectly even surface, several veneers may be superimposed. Finally, the composition is carefully sanded down.The technique is identical regardless of the scale and nature of the object: furniture, pictures, clock cases, or, more recently, tiny pieces such as pocket watches and wristwatches.

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra – New year’s concert with Rolex

For more than 70 years, the annual New Year’s Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, performed on the morning of 1 January, has mesmerized audiences with its sheer beauty and brilliance.
Today, this musical symbol of hope and renewal to begin the year is broadcast live from Vienna’s Musikverein to millions of people in over 90 countries around the world and be seen by 50 million television viewers.

The Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Concert takes place under the baton of Mariss Jansons on January 1, 2016, in the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna. Mariss Jansons, whose musical collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic goes back to 1992, conducts the New Year's Concert for the third time, following 2006 and 2012. The New Year's Concert 2016 also represents the 75th anniversary of this unique cultural event.

Since 2008 Rolex has been an exclusive partner of this prestigious orchestra, and since January 2009, the Exclusive Sponsor of the New Year’s Concert.

1901 year - The first Vacheron Constantin calibre with the Hallmark of Geneva

In 1901, the first Vacheron Constantin calibre receives the Hallmark of Geneva. This certification, created in 1886 by the Geneva cantonal parliament, was intended to preserve the skills of Geneva’s watchmakers and protect them from the unlawful use of the Geneva name.

The Hallmark of Geneva is today considered a mark of watchmaking excellence because it guarantees the provenance, quality, accuracy and endurance of the watch. Vacheron Constantin is the oldest watchmaking firm that has its movements stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva.

200 years ago, A.-L. Breguet became Chronometer-Maker to the Royal Navy

On October 27th 1815, A.-L. Breguet was appointed chronometer-maker to the French royal navy by King Louis XVIII. It was not only a prestigious honour but also an essential state function. At that time, marine chronometers were of vital importance to fleets as they could determine the position of ships at sea. They had to be accurate and resist the constant movement of a ship.

Involved in this task, Breguet designed a number of outstanding marine chronometers. They were mounted on special boxes made of mahogany or walnut wood. A gimbal suspension system kept the chronometers level whatever the circumstances The tough and dynamic looks of the Marine watches are the result of a contemporary design that retains some of the brand’s stylistic features.

To mark the bicentenary of A.-L. Breguet’s appointment as chronometer-maker to the navy, the Manufacture has produced a most exclusive chronograph — the Marine Chronographe reference 5823 “200 ans de Marine”. This self-winding watch is limited to 200 copies and is distinguished by its platinum case. Furthermore, its hand-guilloché gold oscillating weight features a two-tone black and rhodiumed exterior. The gold dial, in matt black, indicates the hours and minutes, with the chronograph seconds and minutes hands in the centre. This limited edition is further equipped with two subdials, one at 9 o'clock for the running seconds and the other at 6 o'clock for the chronograph hours counter. A dates aperture, also at 6 o'clock completes the indications. The 42mm-diameter watch is delivered on a black rubber strap.

Unmistakable Signs of Breguet - Engine-turned dials

Around 1786, Breguet began fitting his watches with engine-turned silver or gold dials of his own design. Hand-crafted engine-turned motifs are one of the unmistakable hallmarks of a Breguet watch. The brand’s famous dials are immediately recognizable and celebrated for the fineness of their patterns, reflecting the regularity of the movements within.

An engine-turned dial is indisputably a true work of art. Smooth to start with, the solid gold dial plate is first worked with a hand graver to outline and hollow out the areas of the dial reserved for such indications as the power reserve, the phases of the moon, the subdial for the seconds and others, depending on the model. Engine-turning as such can now begin, resulting in a finely textured, glare proofed matt surface. Not only do the decorative patterns selected – clou de Paris hobnailing, pavé de Paris cobbling, sunburst, barleycorn, waves, cross weave, checkerboard, flame and many more – make the dial far easier to read, they also contribute greatly to its unique character.

Today still, Breguet craftsmen continue to use engine-turning lathes designed and built over a century ago. With a precision of a tenth of a millimeter, they engrave intricate patterns reflecting their uncommon virtuosity. From start to finish, engine-turning depends essentially on the craftsman’s sharp eye and steady hand, of which the lathe is but an extension. Once the dial plate has been meticulously engine-turned by hand, it is silver coated using techniques developed over two centuries ago: powdered silver is delicately brushed on the plate with circular or linear movements, depending on the type of satin-like finish desired.
Today, the same kind of engine-turned guilloché work engraved on gold Breguet dials is also executed on delicate and brittle plates of mother-of-pearl – a truly impressive achievement in its own right.

EDITOR’S CHOICE:

watch of the month Breguet 5317BR/12/9V6