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Photo Gallery 08, Jun 2017 12:07pm
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The Rare Crafts Atelier by JLC

The Rare Crafts Atelier by JLC

Residing in the lush greens of the Vallée de Joux, the historical premises of the Swiss Maison Jaeger-LeCoultre now plays home to an exclusive space called the Métiers Rares Atelier, also known as, The Rare Crafts Atelier. This space is dedicated to the various ornamental crafts and skills used by the Maison's watchmakers to create horological instruments. Have a look at what goes on behind the closed doors of the workshop below.

The art of guilloché work lies in understanding the corresponding“machine” which is more like a hand tool, and truly loving it so as to compose a constant flowing sequence of moves that will give the cut metal its gleam.

Guilloché work, Métiers Rares Atelier

This technique is performed in circular or linear fashion, by moving the part to be decorated across a sharp-edged tool that remains immobile.

Guilloché work, Métiers Rares Atelier

Under the firm pressure of the artisan’s thumb, the metal shavings are successively removed to reveal a shiny motif.

Guilloché work, Métiers Rares Atelier

An engraving may take around two hours if it involves just initials, or stretch over an entire week when it comes to reproducing a face or a coat-of-arms that must be redrawn by hand.

Engraving and Skeleton Work, Métiers Rares Atelier

Engravers get to display the full extent of their talent when skeleton-working extremely small series of movements. They base their work on the movement plans, carefully seeking the design that will enable him to preserve all the parts required for its smooth operation.

Engraving and Skeleton Work, Métiers Rares Atelier

Using a tiny hacksaw, the skeleton-work specialists recreate a previously drawn motif on the component in question, based on the movement plans.

Engraving and Skeleton Work, Métiers Rares Atelier

JLC focuses on the Grand Feu enamelling technique which includes heating the kiln in 800 degree celsius to solidify the matter (crushed enamel powder and oil) on the base. Each piece is fired between 17 and 22 times during the vitrification process.

Enamelling, Métiers Rares Atelier

The artisans work with a gold case featuring a 0.4 mm recess coated with three layers of white enamel. The motif is then designed using enamel fragments coloured by metal oxides that are crushed to powder and mixed with oil.

Enamelling, Métiers Rares Atelier

Six to ten layers of transparent protective enamel are then applied to the dial that is carefully sanded and polished to achieve a shiny, finely glazed appearance.

Enamelling, Métiers Rares Atelier

The artisans work with a gold case featuring a 0.4 mm recess coated with three layers of white enamel. The motif is then designed using enamel fragments coloured by metal oxides that are crushed to powder and mixed with oil.

Enamelling, Métiers Rares Atelier

Six to ten layers of transparent protective enamel are then applied to the dial that is carefully sanded and polished to achieve a shiny, finely glazed appearance.

Enamelling, Métiers Rares Atelier

Once the seats are created to house the stones, several techniques are used to set the gem stones. An example of one is bezel setting. Traditional bead setting done using stones of similar size held by four beads.

Gemsetting, Métiers Rares Atelier

A JLC innovation: The artisan directly creates the pattern in step with his thoughts and inspiration, based on diamonds of varying diameters, so as to entirely cover the gold surface of the dial.

Gemsetting, Métiers Rares Atelier

A signature technique used by the Maison is invisible or mystery setting, in which the stones are juxtaposed without the tiniest gap that might lessen the beauty of the craftsmanship.

Gemsetting, Métiers Rares Atelier
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