Flinqué Enamel dials
In today's article, we'll share an art form that you'll see in each timepiece created by ETIEN.
It's a process known as 'Flinqué Enamel' and creates the sophisticated shine of the dials on our watches.
What are enamel dials?
Enamelling is to impart a translucent glaze to a surface through intense heat. It is an ancient technique that originated from the 13th to 11th centuries BCE.
Enamel is a soft glass derived from silica mixed with other compounds such as red lead and soda ash. The raw materials are heated to form a colourless, crystal-like liquid. Other ingredients are added to the molten mix to produce intense hues.
The enamel mix is then applied to a metal disc to make an enamel dial. Through high-temperature firing, the enamel bonds with the metallic watch dial underneath.
The process is repeated until enough layers are achieved to give the desired depth. The enamel becomes a highly durable, vivid material that never fades as it's protected in a watch case.
What is Flinqué Enamel?
To understand the art of creating a Flinqué Enamel, one needs first to know what Flinqué is. You might recognise the technique from the famous Faberge Easter eggs crafted for the Russian imperial family in the 18th century.
"Flinqué" refers to the art of geometric patterns etched on a dial using the guilloché technique. The watchmaker then coats the dial with enamelling.
Flinqué combines two intricate art forms that are extraordinarily difficult to master. After the artisan has carefully engraved intricate patterns with the guilloché technique, they coat the dial with translucent coloured enamel. Translucent enamel is preferred on such dials to admire the beautiful engraving underneath.
An enameller must know how the colours blend and their appearance when the enamel is fired. This delicate understanding is why the art form requires much effort.
After that, the enamel is layered on the dial before being heat treated with multiple trips to the oven. If the enamel cracks or bubbles during this process, the craftsman cannot scrape the enamel off to start over. The engraver's work on that dial is redundant.
Indeed, even a slight hairline crack will mean the artisan needs to start over, often with a new plate that must be guilloched from scratch.
This precise art form is worth the effort as no other method will give the same effect as flinqué. The enamel reflects different shades when held up to the light because of the geometric, wavy lines underneath.