Engraving consists in incising patterns onto a surface using a sharp tool made of tempered steel, called a “burin” or an “échoppe”. Materials such as metal, stone, or mother-of-pearl may be used as engraving surfaces.
This handicraft often requires other traditional tools, which may be made by the engravers themselves to suit their own personal requirements. These tools are used to polish, to accentuate the lines of a pattern or design, to soften the finish of larger areas, or to create texture.
Engraving calls for meticulousness and precise control of the tools as the challenge of this craft lies in the difficulty of sculpting relief onto such a small surface. However, an engraver’ skill is measured not only in his technique, but also in his ability to bring volume, depth, and life to our incredible dials and instill all the poetry of the story each timepiece wishes to convey.
Discover the engraving techniques used by Van Cleef & Arpels.
Guilloché engraving technique
Mother-of-pearl engraving and marquetry
Stone engraving and inlay