The art of watch-making

    Grisaille Enamel


    The grisaille enamel technique – developed in France from the 16th century onwards – is showcased on the Poetic Complications® Lady Arpels Pont des Amoureux watches in different ways on both dials.

    On the dial of the nighttime version, “grisaille” enamel involves working with white pigments on a black background. To do so, the metal base is first covered with a layer of black enamel. The difficulty lies in obtaining a deep, smooth black layer without any impurity, which will be able to withstand multiple firings. More finely ground than traditional enamel, the enamel grains are blended with a natural essence developed especially for the Grisaille technique.

    The white paint, known as “Blanc de Limoges”, is applied as thickly or thinly, depending on the desired effect. The thinner the layer, the grayer the white becomes when the black shines through the transparent pigment.



    Grisaille Enamel - Van Cleef & Arpels

    This technique creates a spectacular and mysterious effect of architectural relief.

    On the dial of the daytime version, the colored “grisaille” enamel technique is used for the first time: pink and blue enamels on a white background, to evoke the gentle quality of daylight.

    “Grisaille” enamel is first applied with a brush and then drawn with a needle. The metal point of the needle enables subtle contrasts and plays of light and shadow to be obtained in the final image. This type of enameling requires 30 to 40 hours of work, each dial being fired approximately ten times to achieve the desired result. Firing brings a touch of magic to this technique, revealing the final colors, and creating a spectacular effect of architectural relief.

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