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ENAMEL THROUGH THE AGES

Donzé Cadrans Enamel Powders Colors Wall

Enamel is a mixture of silica, minium, potash, soda etc. With a high temperature fusion of these different components and the addition of metal oxides, different colors are obtained :

  • Selenium for yellow
  • Uranium for bright orange (not frequently used anymore)
  • Iron for black, blue and brown
  • Chrome for pink and green
  • Copper for blue, green and red
  • Cobalt for deep blue and green
  • Manganese for mauve
  • Metallic gold for sustained red

One of the important components of white enamel is arsenic, in fact the whiteness of the enamel is obtained through this component.
In addition, to obtain better ductility and lower the melting point, the enamel contains 20 to 40% lead.
Alternatives are actively researched to continue producing enamelled objects that correspond to the REACH standards the best they can.

ENAMELING

A decorative technique forgotten and mastered only by a small handful of craftsmen; enamel is only used on exceptional watches. A leader in this field, Donzé Cadrans has been supplying renowned watch brands since 1972 on a wide variety of dial techniques such as traditional opaque or translucent Grand Feu dials, the Cloisonné, the Champlevé etc. Although all enamel processes are quite the same, each of them is different, requiring exceptional precision and skills. Complexity, fine details, realistic decorations and a magical ensemble effect explain in particular the intense and ancestral desire of collectors to own enamelled watches. Donzé Cadrans, despite the changing times, helps to maintain the techniques of enamel in the purest of traditions. The enamel fabrication process could never be industrialized: the instinct and humility can’t be programmed, and this is what define craftsmen’s talent of Donzé Cadrans.

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«GRAND FEU» ENAMEL

Since its appearance in the 17th century, “Grand Feu” enamel has illuminated watchmaking with its timeless splendor and exceptional durability. This ancestral technique has captured the very essence of watchmaking craftsmanship, becoming a symbol of excellence and refinement.

Composed of meticulously dosed minerals and enriched with metallic oxides to create an infinite palette of colors, “Grand Feu” enamel is subjected to extreme temperatures during its vitrification. This delicate process is carried out in furnaces heated to precise levels well above 800°C, giving the piece a smooth, luminous finish that stands the test of time.

In addition to its strength and beauty, “Grand Feu” enamel also offers the perfect canvas for intricate decorations and sophisticated patterns. Techniques such as champlevé, cloisonné, guilloché and flinqué are used by our enamel craftsmen to create miniature works of art of rare beauty and precision.

Today, at Donzé Cadrans, “Grand Feu” enamel continues to embody the very essence of luxury watchmaking, perpetuating a centuries-old tradition. Each enamelled dial is the fruit of meticulous work and know-how handed down from generation to generation, a powerful reminder of the history and expertise of our employees.

«GUILLOCHÉ AND FLINQUÉ» ENAMEL

The history of enamel dials is a story of tradition, shaped by centuries of craftsmanship. At the heart of this story lies the harmonious fusion of two techniques: guillochage and enameling. Guilloché, initiated in the 17th century, requires meticulous skill to create intricate patterns using guilloché machines. This technique is generally reserved for precious metals such as gold and silver. At the same time, flinqué is emerging as a complementary method, using stamping tools to reproduce guilloché patterns on dials on a larger scale and with considerable pressure.

At Donzé Cadrans, this artisan heritage is cherished and perpetuated with unparalleled dedication. Translucent or opalescent enamels are applied with precision, adding a unique depth and clarity to the dials. Once the enamel has been applied, each piece is meticulously finished to accentuate its beauty and refinement. In this way, enamel dials transcend mere watch components; they embody the very essence of craftsmanship and timeless elegance.

ART OF GUILLOCHÉ

« CHAMPLEVÉ » ENAMEL

The watchmaking expertise of Donzé Cadrans embodies a remarkable fusion of two ancient craft traditions. It all begins with the engraver, skilled at creating intricate cavities and patterns in the gold plates. These cavities serve as a canvas for the enameller, who meticulously deposits different enamels to create relief patterns. Once the enamel has been deposited and polished, the engraver takes up the work again, chiseling away the gold partitions to give the illusion of depth and dimension, a veritable trompe-l’œil that demands perfect mastery of the chisel and great fluidity of gesture. Each dial requires between 8 and 15 hours of meticulous work to perfect every detail. At the heart of this tradition, Donzé Cadrans works in close collaboration with the Gravure Pierre-Alain Lozeron workshop, an alliance that reinforces the excellence and finesse of each piece created.

This collaboration between engraver and enameller recalls the rich and sophisticated heritage of champlevé enamel, a technique that flourished in Limoges in the 12th century. This meticulous method of hollowing out cavities in a precious metal plate to inlay enamel has left its mark on the history of European decorative arts. From precious reliquaries to majestic crosses and delicate candlesticks, champlevé enamels have adorned a multitude of objects, testifying to their timeless beauty and robustness. Even today, champlevé enamel continues to inspire contemporary craftsmen and fascinate art lovers, reminding us of its enduring importance in the world’s artistic heritage.

CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL

Cloisonné enameling, an ancient goldsmithing technique, traces its roots back to well before the Middle Ages, being widely practiced in civilizations such as the Byzantine Empire as early as the 4th century, and in the East. This method demands great precision: compartments or cells are defined using gold or silver wires to meticulously house colored enamel. The nuances and quality of the result depend on the meticulous choice of wire, where fineness and shape play a crucial role. For example, Donzé Cadrans opts for extremely fine rectangular wires, enabling faithful reproduction of the design with meticulous details.

CLOISONNÉ ENAMELING

Every step in the cloisonné enamel creation process demands meticulous attention to detail and craftsmanship. From the placement of the partitions to the firing of the enamel and final polishing, nothing is left to chance. The choice of wire, the stability of the partitions and the precise thickness of the enamel are all crucial to achieving a result that lives up to the demands of this sophisticated art.

The constant quest for a three-dimensional impression adds to the complexity, requiring great skill and infinite patience. It takes 50 to 60 hours to complete a “cloisonné” dial from start to finish.

Each step in the cloisonné enamel creation process requires meticulous attention to detail and great skill. From cloisonné to enamel firing and final polishing, nothing is left to chance. The choice of wire, the stability of the partitions and the precise thickness of the enamel are all crucial to achieving a result that lives up to the demands of this sophisticated art. The constant quest for three-dimensional printing adds to the complexity, requiring great skill and infinite patience.

FOLDING OF THE PARTITIONS

Despite its age, cloisonné enamel continues to captivate and fascinate, as much for its historical heritage as for its contemporary relevance. Craftsmen like Donzé Cadrans honor this tradition while adapting it to modern sensibilities, ensuring its longevity. These works of art, the fruit of know-how handed down from generation to generation, reflect a rich history and unrivalled artistic mastery. Whether perpetuating traditional motifs or exploring new creative avenues, cloisonné enamel remains a living testimony to human creativity and the timeless beauty of craftsmanship.

Depending on the motif, cloisons take between 8 and 15 hours to complete.

Donzé Cadrans Enameling Label
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