When the watch is turned over, a veritable masterpiece reveals itself on the caseback.
A new art history lesson from Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso dedicated to Alfons Mucha.
Reverso watches are famous for displaying artworks crafted with remarkable skill by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s master artisans. A new Reverso Tribute Enamel from the Rare Handcrafts “Métiers Rares” pays homage to the illustrious Internationally celebrated Czech artist Alfons Mucha/ Alfons Maria Mucha, a painter inextricably associated with the image of the 1900 Paris. Mucha is best known for his distinctive stylized theatrical posters that epitomize Art Nouveau.
Each of the three versions of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel watches offers a front dial finely guilloché by hand and covered with translucent Grand Feu enamel, twinned with a reverse face featuring an enameled miniature of a painting inspired by Alfons Mucha.
Alfons Mucha has often inspired Jaeger-LeCoultre’s creativity—leading to the Reverso “The Seasons” in 1996, Reverso “Precious Gemstones” in 1999, and Reverso “Clair de Lune” in 2001. “The Seasons” (1896) was one of Mucha’s earliest decorative panels and became one of his most popular series.
For this collection, Jaeger-LeCoultre has drawn inspiration from “The Seasons”, the artist’s emblematic 1896 series of decorative panels, to decorate three different models of the Reverso Tribute Enamel—each in a limited series of eight pieces.
The front face of each watch has been worked in guilloché of remarkable quality. Finely crafted by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s master engraver, this guilloché requires extremely complex artisanal skills and a machine that dates back a hundred years. On this face, a sunburst guilloché appears in relief under the deep color of its transparent enameling. Each color required hours of research to achieve its perfectly even hue, and to ensure it harmonizes with the colors of the painting reproduced on the reverse of the case.
Much of the complexity lies in working by hand to scale the original painting—measuring over a meter—onto a surface of 3 cm2, during the very process of enameling.
The reproduction needs be as faithful as possible, but using different tools and materials from the ones Mucha used. For instance, the master enameler must painstakingly seek to reproduce the Czech artist’s rich palette, despite having only a restricted number of colors to work with.
Another challenge, explains Jaeger-LeCoultre Maison, is the need to anticipate what color the result will be, and employ darker shades than the original, because the various protective layers that are applied subsequently over the design will alter the painting’s color intensity.
In the miniature inspired by “Spring”, Mucha captures the very atmosphere of this season, personifying it in an innocent fair-haired figure wearing a translucent white dress and standing under a blossoming tree. This exceptional piece will have required more than a 100 hours of work (70 hours of enameling and 30 hours of engraving) in order to reproduce the master’s artwork as faithfully as possible.