Openwork watches have been rising in popularity since the time of Napoleon, and especially lauded in the past few years. The art of openwork watches evolved from an older and more delicate technique called “skeletonizing”. Skeletonizing is the process of extracting all but the most fundamentally necessary inner workings, including the dial plate, and engraving the remaining works into delicate lace-like plates. Though Openwork is not as bare-bones as a skeleton watch, they feature a partially extracted dial or no dial at all.
Early works were exquisitely carved and engraved, but more modern skeleton watches embrace the bold look of thicker, unengraved gears. Richard Mille shed the traditional look of “frilly” and thin movements and used automotive inspiration to create the bold modern look, soon followed by Cartier and Nardin. Modern tastes desire more than a bland 2D face and dial and this has been expressed in the 3D views of glittering metallic interconnections and beauty through clean engineering and simplicity.
Though technically different, skeleton watches and openwork watches are often considered one and the same. These watches become more and more popular as themes such as “Steampunk” become more and more popular as well as paradoxical themes when one object shares a characteristic as well as its opposite, such as both simplicity and intricacy. Each time piece becomes not just a functional item, but a work of artful engineering and conversation piece.
Year of the Monkey Chopard Watch
Let’s ring, no, CHIME in the Lunar New Year with the masterfully crafted Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi “Year of the Monkey” watch. The watch is a 39.5 mm 18k rose gold timepiece, powered by a L.U.C 96.17-L automatic movement, but the true feature is the handcrafted Urushi dial.
Chopard collaborated with Yamado Heiando, a japanese firm, and masters Kiichiro Masumura and Minori Koizumi to create the Urushi dial. Urushi is the ancient art of lacquering, specifically, lacquer made from the sap from the Urushi tree that is collected just once a year. The dial is also augmented with the technique of Makii, the addition of gold dust using small bamboo tubes. The intricate procedure of the dial creation and the rarity of the materials makes each dial a masterpiece created by a man considered “a living national treasure”. The dial features a golden monkey picking peaches at sunset, an image considered to be auspicious by Chinese tradition.
The Chopard L.U.C XP Urushi “Year of the Monkey” watch is made in a limited edition and retails for $24,290 USD.