By Roberta Naas – Senior Contributor Forbes
World’s First: Bovet Unveils Watch Dial Made Of Pure Sugar Crystals
Over the centuries, we have witnessed watch dials morph from solid pieces of metal with hands to beautifully embellished works of art that boast hand enameling, gem setting, engraving hand painting and more. In recent years, we have even seen great Métiers d’ Arts dials made of feather, straw and wood marquetry, as well as sculptural delights. But now, the house of Bovet 1822 takes the concept of the dial as canvas to a whole new level, revolutionizing time with an art form and material never before executed in watchmaking. The brand adorns the new Miss Audrey Sweet Art watch with a dial made from pure sugar crystals.
Thanks to a technological developments, innovation in materials and processes, and the masterful art of miniature painting, Bovet revolutionizes the way we see sugar and watch dials. Two years in the research, development and testing stages, the idea of using pure sugar crystals for the dial was conceived of by Pascal Raffy, owner of Bovet 1822 for the past 20 years.
Each Bovet Miss Audrey Sweet Art watch dial is unique, as each is colored and then heated to dry.
“To celebrate women everywhere, Bovet is introducing the Miss Audrey Sweet Art with a very special dial made from pure sugar, something which has never been done in the long history of watchmaking,” says Pascal Raffy, owner of BOVET 1822. “This patented process, which will not degrade over time or even in extremes of temperature, is very artisanal. The individual sugar crystals are colored and then put in place one by one, like a miniature painting. The result is extraordinarily beautiful.”
In fact, creating a single dial is a complex patented process that consists of many steps from start to finish, including preparing the sugar crystals so their molecular structure won’t change once they are placed on the dial and when exposed to elements such as heat, light and temperatures. In fact, before bringing the Miss Audrey Sweet Art watches to the marketplace, the sugar crystal dials were extensively tested.
There are a host of different colors that can be achieved via the proprietary process of preparing
To create each dial, the master artisan uses a fine tweezer and microscope, and deftly chooses the right sized crystals for the dial – they must be low enough that the hands, once placed, don’t scrape the sugar spheres and cause breakdown. Once the crystals are selected, the artist combines them with special bio-degradable lacquer paints that have been applied to the rhodium-treated brass dial. The crystals are gently pushed around to obtain their color and depth of hue. No two crystals are exactly the same, with some being a solid color and others being gradient.
Once colored, the crystals are then patiently put into place, with several hundred crystals on each dial. Once in place, the dials then undergo a drying process in an oven or kiln. During the placement of the crystals on the dial, and throughout the drying process, they are extremely fragile and easy to damage. Just like with engraving, one mis-step and a new dial must be started.
The entire process of creating the crystals takes about week. However, choosing them, painting them, placing them onto the dial takes more than three hours per dial, not including the drying time. The finished dial offers as shimmering delight of texture, color and sparkle – attracting the eye like the finest confections. The colors range from dusty rose to bright orange, blue, green and other mouth-watering hues. Naturally, each dial is a unique piece.
As if putting sugar onto the dial were not sweet enough, Bovet further embellishes the watch dial with specially shaped highly whimsical hands that — once every hour and five minutes when the minute hand catches up to the hour hand — form a heart shape. It is its own sweet message of love. According to Bovet, the Sweet Art dial, compared to a “normal” Miss Audrey dial, is about $3,000 more due to the craftsmanship and the patented process.
As if the colors, sugar, and patented procedure were not enough, Bovet encases this special dial in the 36mm Fleurier Amadeo convertible case. Crafted in stainless steel and finished with diamonds, the patented Amadeo case converts from wristwatch, to pendant clock to table clock with ease. The watch is powered by an automatic movement and retails for approximately $25,000.
For the unveiling of the Miss Audrey Sweet Art, there are four initial renditions, including a black and blue gradient sugar crystals dial, a black and green gradient, a gold and pink gradient and a blue and grey gradient dial. Other dial colors include purple, blue, black, gray, green, pink or yellow sugar crystals or a gradient of those colors. The bow and bezel of each watch is set with 103 round-cut diamonds for added sparkle and each watch is finished with an alligator strap. Mouthwateringly sweet.