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December 18, 2012updated Dec 20, 2023

Enameling Dominique Baron

By Chris Boyle

Lady arpels poetic wish / van cleef & arpels

French Enameler Dominique baron has had a long and storied Career in her 45 years on this planet.

Having studied applied arts At the university in strasbourg, she also achieved a degree in Enameling on metal from the national institute of Enamelers in Morez.

From there she headed to Jaeger-LeCoultre, where she apprenticed under the watchmaker’s in-house master enameler Miklos Merczel. After that, she spent years building up the in-house enameling departments at Roger Dubuis and then DeLaneau—a firm that specializes in wristwatches featuring this art form—before she decided to go independent. However, it wasn’t long before her status as a consultant to one of the Swiss watch industry’s premier dial makers, located just outside Geneva, became not only a permanent post but a directorial function.

Today, she is behind many of the most decorative enamel dials the watch industry produces and is versed in every complicated technique known. “The technique of email-vitrail is one of the enamel techniques that requires the most care because of its fragility,” she explains as an example. “Thetransparency of the materials requires discerning each miniscule detail of its fabrication, but it is also the one that provides the most value because of the crystalline clarity of the enamel.”

Another, which uses fine partitions (cloisons) of gold to separate areas on the dial, is called cloisonné. “This technique permits the luminosity to push a passage through the translucid enamels of diverse colors,” she explains. Champlevé is also a technique that is frequently utilized in enamel.

The Contre-jour style is one she has used on dials of the Poetic Complications line by Van Cleef & Arpels. This vintage technique of enamel and miniature painting dates back to the 16th century and utilizes two colors: Black (the enamel background) and white (the miniature painting motifs). The first phase of the work consists of applying the black enamel to a gold base in many layers and successive firings. Then, the motif is realized with very finely ground white enamel. The first layer of white, after firing, provides a very dark gray. After that, there are the layers of white and successive firings that give the appearance of different tonalities of gray up to white.

“When I look at my watch, I don’t see a watch and its hands like the majority of people when they look at their watches. I see jewels, stones, motherof- pearl…I plunge into a décor of enamel and paint that permits me to travel to the Orient, to imagine the colors, the shapes, the trees, the flowers, the architecture. I allow myself to be transported to this atmosphere of calm and serenity,” she explains of her mindset.

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Baron admits that she has only rarely created enamels for jewelry though she would not mind exploring that new world. Having said that, she also professes a distinct love of horology: “I am one of those women today who are just as interested in the aesthetic quality of a watch as its functionality and the complication that makes it a work of art.”

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