An enamel dial elevates a watch to a different level, whether it comes in the form of a brightly coloured world map, a hyper-realistic image of a flower, a jewel-toned expanse of colour that seems to float above a textured base, or an ethereal grey-scale image of a lion – accurate to the last tuft of fur. Its beauty speaks volumes for the skill of its creator. Because enamel is really darned hard to do – let alone do well – no matter which enamel technique it is. (The examples I just listed are, respectively, cloisonné, miniature-painting, flinqué – or, in Japan, shippo – and grisaille. There are more.) But, counter-intuitively, one of the hardest of all to master is the most subtle, the least "wow, that obviously took incredible skill" technique. I'm talking about the plain white (or less often seen, black or a single colour) grand feu enamel dial. To quote that truism of design, simple things are always the hardest to do well. (Sub-text: if you make a mistake, there's nowhere to hide). The mirror-perfect finish demanded of a plain grand feu enamel dial sends that simple-hard challenge off the scale. That has a lot to do…

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