Front Runners November 2015: Swiss Diplomacy
To create the one-of-a-kind timepieces in the new Blancpain Villeret Shakudō series (blancpain.com), the Vallée de Joux watchmaker looked far afield for inspiration—beyond traditional Swiss aesthetic techniques and to East Asia. The métiers d’art watches ($160,000 each) take their name from the Japanese alloy called shakudō, a blend of mostly copper and some gold that, when treated with a traditional patination solution, acquires a bluish-black hue. Through a damascening process, artisans added to the shakudō dial various gold elements, which were then finely engraved. The scenes, such as the underwater coelacanth shown here, offer an impressive level of detail and depth.