Of camel bones and Persian miniatures

shopping January 08, 2018 16:30

By The Nation

6,210 Viewed

Hermes ventures into uncharted watchmaking territory, with time pursuing a circular dance on a camel bone dial boasting Persian miniature paintings.



This age-old oriental technique is all about subtle alchemy. Firstly, between the bone powder and a mysterious resin that forms the dial base. A porous surface absorbs the colours and is entirely made from natural pigments: saffron, walnut, henna, pomegranate, lapis lazuli, turquoise, gold leaf and silver leaf. Then comes the turn of two motifs, each inspired by a silk scarf: Dans un Jardin Anglais by Alice Shirley; and Promenade de Longchamp by Philippe Ledoux. Gum Arabic (acacia gum) is used to mix the designs in place, before protecting these Persian miniatures with a discreet layer of varnish.

Artisans delicately apply pigments and colours with the tip of their brush to a dial made of enamel, mother-of-pearl and camel bone. 

The Tyger Tyger motif began in 2015 with a silk scarf created by A lice Shirley, a designer and illustrator closely attuned to the spirit of Hermes. The lush vegetation surrounding the tiger is transformed into glass powder in order to give life, after various skilfully elaborated firings, to a miniature enamel painted dial. Illuminated by the chiaroscuro of a full moon night, the majestic feline takes shape with the placing of tiny gold wires marking off the surfaces to be enamelled. It is then that the cloisonne enamel technique comes into play.