In honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the Chronoswiss, the brand has created an in-house handcrafted watch edition featuring rare crafts. The three models of the Artist’s Collection are dedicated to the traditional crafts of guilloché, skeletonization and enamel. The resuscitation of these historical, to a degree almost forgotten, handcrafts are something that is near and dear to the Chronoswiss CEO. The special thing about the Artist’s Collection is the incorporation of these various demanding techniques in one watch. Only very few artists are in a position at all to unite these traditional crafts in a single watch.
The Artist’s Collection, which launches in 2013, comprises three models, each of which is outfitted with a movement decorated with skeletonization and guilloché. The dials are first lavishly decorated with guilloché and then lent a fascinating depth and three-dimensionality thanks to transparent enamel. These treasures are created by hand in a specially outfitted workshop within Chronoswiss’ headquarters in Lucerne, partially with the aid of historical tools; such as an antique rose engine, for example, built in the year 1924 in La Chaux-de-Fonds. Together with a somewhat younger straight-line guilloché cutter from the 1960s, they build the heart of the workshop.
The dial blanks are clamped to the machines and decorated with the characteristic guilloché patterns by hand. This embellishment alone is already exquisite decoration for the watch models, but Chronoswiss takes it further for the Artist’s Collection: the next step is to enamel the dials with transparent enamel. This step is extremely time-intensive as an aesthetic result necessitates five to six firings in the kiln. Before the enamel powder is applied, it must first be purged so that a clear, transparent color is created. The enameller rinses it up to seven times to ensure that all cloudiness and impurities are removed. Only then can the powder be mixed with water and applied to the dial.
However, caution is also the order of the day: every layer of enamel must be carefully and evenly applied so that there are no surface irregularities during the firing. During this lavish process, the reject rate is relatively high as any damage is irreparable.
While the dial as the “face” of the watch receives a lot of attention, the insides of the timepiece, which are visible through the transparent case back, also create a great amount of fascination. The historical manually wound movements of the Artist’s Collection originate in the 1970s and are lavishly decorated: with goldsmiths’ saw and file, the skeletonizer goes to work; bridges and plates are later embellished with guilloché décor. Regardless of the side that you begin with when looking at the models of the Artist’s Collection, you will always see a work of art created by hand.