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Pailonnee Leaves

November 10 2006 at 5:07 PM
JC  (Login JCY88)
PP Discussion Group

Mike and All,
I really appreciate the skills on applying the leaves to the dial and the original 1700 supply soon to be all used up on the finest examples of J watches!

however, as i was reading Mikes report a question popped into my head. These 3D gold leaves that exist, can they be "reproduced" or "copied" now by soneone? Can someone with the correct skill/technology produce these fine gold leaves with engravings? Is there anything unique in these leaves that just cannot be copied?


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(Login lonmax)
Industry Chat

I guess anything can be copied, JC.

November 11 2006, 1:54 AM 

For instance, molds could be made; however, there are many, many designs and whether the finished result would match the original craftsperson’s skill is questionable. You really cannot appreciate just how delicate and wonderfully crafted the pallions are until you hold one in your hand or look at one under a loupe.
Making pallions by hand is also possible but someone would need to spend considerable time and money experimenting on how to get them perfect - nobody left an instruction manual on how to make them
If reproduction pallions were ever produced, my first question on buying anything with pallions would be to ask if they were originals - no prizes for guessing what the answer would have to be.


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(Login pc01)

Yes and no...

November 11 2006, 2:47 AM 


just my amateurish thoughts:

Pretty much everything in a mechanical watch can be reproduced; the more "industrialized" it is, the more easy so (unless it requires some very fancy machinery or production process for certain applications or materials).
So yes, i´d guess creating Paillons will be possible to do. Certainly it won´t be that cheap, given the costs of development and limited use. And it will be very time consuming (expensive) to make them by hand.
Still it might be very hard to separate newly produce from vintage ones on a casual view, once they are embedded in the enamel layer.

On the other hand, Paillons are to be used for enamel dials.
Now enamel dial can be produced in a somewhat more industrial way, which then leads to a different appearance. For those who know the "real thing", it´s rather obvious and to make a very nice enamel dial, even a seemingly "plain" one, is still a work of art. You have to know a lot about the material and the production process, with such knowledge not to be really wide spread these days.
Making Paillonnee dials is more than working with enamel only and more comparable to cloisonnee dials; the difficulties of working with hand-made parts (of which each is a little different) of different materials (enamel, gold, the dial base) and working with all of this sum up.

Therefore i´d guess it might be well possible to produce the Paillons, but just having those won´t help and not make a dial.
Only when you know about every stage of this kind of dial making AND find someone who does have the skills to do so you will end up with a dial.
Notwithstanding the costs; such things can´t be industrialized for high-volume production and keeping in mind the costs of development prior to the first completed dial, it´s not unlikely to be a lot more expensive than these things are already.

But as said, my very amateurish view only!

Greetings from Germany,


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(Login lonmax)
Industry Chat

Good point.

November 11 2006, 2:55 AM 

Hi Peter,
Even if there were an unlimited supply of pallions you would still need people able to make dials with them and not many have the skills.
It would a bit like giving me a Stradivarius - don't expect to hear good music


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(Login pc01)

Well, there´s a major difference towards a Stradivari...

November 11 2006, 6:56 AM 

Hi Max,

comparing it to a violin is a tiny problem, in that the instrument does have to produce a certain sound and the dial does not...

Not to belittle any work, which wouldn´t be justified as the work of Anita is certainly very special. When i met her in April, it´s been truly fascinating to see how such small objects come to life and being an observer increased my respect and appreciation for her work a lot.

But while the difference towards a violin seems obvious, on closer view it might be less so.
When the vintage Paillonnee units came to life, it´s been a LOT more difficult to do them. This due to the fact electric power and controlled oven temperatures wasn´t at hand, which makes things quite a bit easier these days.

I´m rather confident modern manufacturing technology could do Paillonnee dials, even in a somewhat larger series.
I mean, they are doing things like hairsprings made of carbon/diamond or robot-formed Breguet overcoils
Therefore it might be possible to create the Paillons and the enamel coating with sufficient equipment, which on the other hand is really expensive and the outcome might not justify the investment.
Nonetheless, i´m rather confident doing Paillons by means of LIGA technology or DRIE etching would end up in pieces virtually impossible to distinguish from hand-made old ones, other than within a production run all Paillons would be perfectly equal like clones (a matter that can be addressed, though).

But there´s one thing that separates the Stradivari (or another really great instrument) from a watch dial, which is in fact the function.
For those who are familiar with fine instruments, the sound makes the difference beyond the craftmanship and skills required to do them. I think in the watch world, it´s a bit apparent when looking at repeaters and especially different pieces of the same make and reference. The different sound these can produce, when they are made by the same hands, might show there´s more in these watches than simply to produce and put together all the parts.

In this, watch dials might be easier to achieve than to re-produce a truly great violin. At least the visual difference most probably would be quite small.
Just that the costs to do so, particularly in a larger series, might not justify such venture.



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(Login bernardcheong)
AP Discussion Group

Here I may be able to help...

November 11 2006, 4:19 PM 

These enamel dials, and the depth of the enamel, with my limited experience with the cloissone artisan with the Ulysse Nardin dials, can and will be different one from another even when made from the same artisan.

The hand appication alone has differences...hard to spot, but present none the less.

The baking and cooling environments are not always , in fact, not likely at all to be the same for each. The oven itself has different hot spots when I examine them, and the dials come out quite individual if you examine evry mm square of the surface...especially the refractive qualities of the translucent material.

This is the romance of enamel. Individuality.

However, with the possible event of industrialised making of larger numbers, this could even be more expensive, and less romantic...leading to the fact that these older ones will be more valued on the long run. Like the older Ming vases and ceramics of the past.

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(Login mkt32)

I am sure there are specialty goldsmiths currently who

November 11 2006, 4:25 PM 

can produce gold paillons. The problems is that the ones I can find are flat gold leafs cut into different shapes and not stamped with the fine details to produce the 3 dimensional designs that are seen on the Anita's collection. I've actually looked!

The thinner and smaller the paillons the more expensive. For example 100 paillons of 23K gold all of the same design, but lesser quality, will cost about $2000 from a custom goldsmith that I know here in the states with a wait time of 3 months.... Remember that each J*D paillonnee design uses more than 1 Paillon shape.

And if a mistake is made during dial production made you cannot recover the paillons!

So yes the gold paillons can be reproduced and there are artisians who can make them today but unfortuately at high cost, lesser quality.

Best, Mike

This message has been edited by mkt32 on Nov 11, 2006 4:28 PM

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(Login JCY88)
PP Discussion Group

A Bargin then!!

November 11 2006, 11:03 PM 

So what we are actually saying here is that in the ultimtae WIS's eyes, we are looking a a bargin for theindivudality, and uniqueness of what anita does!

Thats good enough for me!

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(Login mkt32)

I used to think that I could quantify

November 12 2006, 6:32 PM 

the value of a watch.

Not anymore...especially after visiting Ms. Porchet.

I went looking for Paillons and goldsmiths who could make them not because I wanted to know how much it would cost to make the dial but to verify the statement "once the paillons are gone, they are gone" and make sure that it was not a marketing statement. I can honestly say the Paillons in Anita's possession are irreplaceable in terms of quality.

Combined with the skill and the difficulty in reproducing the Jaquet Droz blue translucent enamel dial I guess it is a bargin!



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