The art of watch-making

    Guilloché engraving technique


    The art of Guilloché, which dates back to the 16th century, consists of decorating an object with engraved lines, sculpted in a hollowed and crisscrossed fashion.

    The craftsman starts his engraving on a round golden plate, using a technique known as “tremblé”. He works on the dial in freehand, moving in concentric circles, by making his hand shake. By crisscrossing the lines, he creates shapes that soak up and reflect the light. This technique is extremely rare; these days, it is usually achieved with the help of a special machine.

    The lines are drawn successively. The technique calls for dexterity and a good eye, as the final result is determined by the position, speed, and pressure of the burin. It is precisely this human dimension, which instills such beauty into this form of decoration.

    The human dimension instills all the beauty into this form of decoration.

    Guilloché engraving technique - Van Cleef & Arpels

    Van Cleef & Arpels gives this ancient handicraft pride of place on the Tourbillon Colibri and the Tourbillon Caresse d’Eole Poetic Complications™ timepieces or the Timeless XL timepiece. The Van Cleef & Arpels hallmark is often the inspiration behind the Guilloché motifs.

    Once engraved, the dial is covered with several layers of Chinese lacquer (Tourbillon Colibri Poetic Complications™ and Timeless XL timepieces) or of translucent enamel (Tourbillon Caresse d’Eole Poetic Complications™ timepiece). Only with the application of either the lacquer or the enamel, will the engraved motifs reveal their magnificent depth and light-reflecting qualities.

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