Peace, a word, a feeling, a state of mind that we so often desire but seldom attain in today’s world where, let’s face it, the stress is real. In an industry that thrives on perfection, competition and performance, Jaeger-LeCoultre has introduced a beautiful iteration of peace and harmony with three new watches inspired by Asia’s centuries-long artistic tradition of depicting the natural world – the Rendez-Vous Sonatina ‘Peaceful Nature’ series.
A trilogy that represents a feminine expression of time that celebrates both precision and artistry, exhibits decorative crafts that Jaeger-LeCoultre has so thoroughly mastered in its Métiers Rares® (Rare HandcraftsTM) atelier: miniature-painting, lacquer work and gem- setting.
As an ode to nature and its special place in the Asian artistic tradition. From the use of urushi lacquer to highly symbolic plants and animals the new trilogy unites Eastern and Western artistic traditions and links the richness of rare decorative crafts with the technical sophistication of high watchmaking
Plants and animals have always been highly symbolic in Asian cultures, imbued with special powers and attributes, and scenes from nature play an important role in Asian art history. Closely studying the correct forms and anatomy of plants and animals, artists have for centuries reproduced them in delicate and highly accurate detail. Nature-painting reached its apogee with “flower-and-bird pictures” (known as kachōga in Japan and Hwajohwa in Korea), although subjects were not limited only to flowers or birds, and those elements did not necessarily appear together. It is this tradition that Jaeger-LeCoultre’s designers and Métiers Rares® artists have interpreted on the dials of the new timepieces, uniting the crafts of lacquer work, miniature-painting and gem-setting with consummate skill.
A tour-de-force of skill, artistry and infinite patience
Step 1: To begin, the artisan prepares an absolutely pristine dial surface, then starts the work of building up the gradient colour of the lacquer, layer by layer, to create a richly gleaming background. Only after the layers of lacquer have been fully hardened, can the painting begin.
Step 2: The, guided only by eye and hand, the artistan applies miniscule dots of gold lacquer paint to imitate the effect of maki-e lacquer (a technique, perfected during the Japanese Edo period, of sprinkling gold powder or fragments of gold leaf onto wet lacquer to create a gradient effect).
Step 3: Next, in a manner similar to oil painting on canvas but on a microscopic scale, the detailed image is formed, one tiny brushstroke at a time – a process taking some 35–40 hours of painstaking and highly focused work.
Step 4: As a final touch, elements of each image are highlighted with tiny gold paillons (flakes), painstakingly applied. Lifelike in detail, with a remarkable sense of movement and visual depth, each of these miniature works of art is imbued with the artisan’s personality and passion, making all of them very subtly different.
Step 5: Finally, multiple layers of translucent lacquer are applied, to seal the completed painting in a lustrous and everlasting coat
In terms of its composition, the Rendez-Vous Sonatina dial is asymmetrical yet perfectly balanced, anchored by the collection’s signature Floral hands and numerals. Like almost all their faces, the applied numerals form a crescent that wraps around the delicate painting as a fine oval-shaped ring of diamonds runs beneath the applied numerals, further complementing the glittering circle of grain-set diamonds on the bezel. The dial also displays an endless dance of sun, moon and stars with the Night & Day indicator.
And yet again, true to its name, set on the edge of the dial, a golden star marks the time of a special rendezvous, which can be moved into position by a second crown set in the side of the case. When the time comes your watch will sound a melodious chime to remind you of your appointment. The elegant complexity and fine details of this mechanism, powered by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Manufacture Calibre 735, developed specially for the Sonatina is fully revealed by the transparent sapphire case-back.
Three dials; three images – each telling a powerfully symbolic story
Against a background of deep blue-green lacquer, a crane (tsuru in Japan), revered throughout Asia as an auspicious sign, embodies happiness and a soaring spirit, hovers above a pine tree, the arc of its wings following the curving lines of the dial layout. Symbolising longevity because it was thought to live for 1,000 years, and being monogamous, it often appears in wedding décor, representing a long and peaceful life for the couple. The pine tree, as an evergreen, is also considered a symbol of longevity and virtue.
A golden-brown dial is adorned with the delicately painted branches of a red quince tree – also a symbol of longevity renewed and rejuvenated by the reappearance of its blossom every spring. Amid its red blooms perches the harbinger of summer, a kingfisher (hisui in Japan; cuiniao in China). The kingfisher is a positive symbol in almost every cultural tradition, representing beauty and virtue, fidelity and devotion, faithfulness and happy marriage.
On the black dial, a vivid orange-coloured koi swims beneath the gently rippling surface of a pond, framed by the spreading branches of a willow tree – a symbol of spring and, thus, of romance and feminine charm. The delicate qualities of the willow are balanced by the strength of the koi – believed to confer strength of purpose, courage and perseverance in the face of adversity, bringing the rewards of success, abundance and good fortune. To complete these watchmaking treasures, an alligator leather strap, complementing the dial colour and given a glowing, pearlised finish, is fastened to the wrist by a pink gold folding buckle.
Executed entirely by hand in the Jaeger-LeCoultre Métiers Rares® atelier, each of these watches with exquisite compositions have been brought to life by the artisans in a remarkable ballet of skill and precision over the course of many weeks.
Dimensions: 38.2mm diameter x 10.59mm thick
Calibre: Self-winding Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 735
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds; Rendez-vous indicator, Night & Day indicator Power reserve: 40 hours
Case: Pink gold 750/1000 (18 Karats)
Water resistance: 5 bar
Strap: Shiny alligator
Diamonds: 160 (for 1.86 carats)
Limited edition of 10 pieces each