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In a captivating homage to the iconic Japanese ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai, Swiss watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre has unveiled its latest horological marvel – the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai. This collection artfully reimagines two of Hokusai’s woodblock prints, ‘The Waterfall at Ono on the Kisokaido Road’ and ‘The Waterfall Where Yoshitsune Washed his Horse at Yoshino in Yamato Province,’ on the back of their foldable and reversible Reverso watches.
Hidden behind the case backs of these exquisite timepieces are enamel reproductions that meticulously capture the essence of Hokusai’s masterpieces. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s skilled artisans have painstakingly recreated these woodblock prints using the Geneva technique, a meticulous process involving at least 14 layers of enamel, each fired at 800°C before the next can be applied, resulting in a staggering 80 hours of meticulous craftsmanship.
Reproducing Katsushika Hokusai’s original colors and intricate details on a scale approximately one-tenth of the original is no small feat. The enameler’s artistry even extends to the minute cartouches near the top of each frame, where they have hand-inscribed the captions from the original woodblock prints with incredible accuracy and legibility. The background pattern on both dials is meticulously crafted using a special technique known as guilloché.
The dial portraying ‘The Waterfall at Ono’ showcases a barleycorn pattern, demanding three to four hours of precise work. In contrast, the ‘Waterfall at Yoshino’ dial features a lozenge pattern with an astounding 800 lines, each requiring five rounds of crafting, totaling about eight hours of dedicated work. Following the guilloché process, several layers of translucent green enamel are meticulously applied, with each layer heated and dried separately, adding an additional eight hours of work spread over a week.
Each series of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai watches comprises a mere ten timepieces, making their owners privileged custodians of a historical artist’s legacy. These exquisite timepieces beautifully blend the artistry of watchmaking and Hokusai’s timeless creativity, a testament to the enduring spirit of craftsmanship and culture.
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