The Premier, as its name suggests, was Harry Winston’s first watch, and when a watch is a storied, 84-year-old New York label’s first, you know for sure that it will be of great significance. Since its debut in 1989, the Harry Winston Premier has remained a testament to the brand’s stellar track record in manufacturing some of the most creative-looking timepieces in the market. Its round dial is flanked by three arches at the top and bottom to recall the neoclassical façade of Harry Winston’s salon on Fifth Avenue – a veritable blank canvas for the watchmaker’s skilful craftsmen, who translate the iconic codes adored by the label through wondrous displays of difficult-to-execute métiers d’art techniques.
These highly decorative techniques include the harvesting of powdered colour pigments from butterfly wings to paint beautiful, lifelike patterns on the Premier Precious Butterfly (research and development of this exceptional work of art spanned three years). Meanwhile, the cutting, shaping and arrangement of pheasant and peacock feathers over seven hours results in a kaleidoscopic motif on the Premier Feathers. Finally, the slicing of mother-of-pearl reveals a dainty, openworked pattern on the Premier Pretty Lace.
While it seemed as if Harry Winston might have had a tough time outdoing itself artistically this year, it wowed yet again. At Baselworld, the brand ticked off uncharted territories in horology with the unveiling of a never-before-seen technique derived from Raden, an age-old Japanese method of decorating: shells are fused onto the surfaces of wood and lacquered objects. The star of the show is the new Harry Winston Premier Precious Weaving, which boasts a dial that is woven like textile – not using fabric threads, but instead, strands of gold silk and wafer-thin slivers of mother-of-pearl that interlock to form alluring, iridescent tapestry motifs. Due to the latter’s extremely brittle nature, this is an incredibly difficult technique to execute, let alone perfect.
There are four handmade dials to choose from. Each is just as stunning as the other in looks. The first depicts the chrysanthemum, the emblem of the Japanese imperial family and also a symbol of life. The second features a bold abstract motif woven with gold leaves, silk and mother-of-pearl, therefore making it shimmer like the fabric of a couture gown, while the third and fourth dials reimagine an antique koi motif as scintillating scales that overlap for a striking 3-D finish.
This story first appeared in L’Officiel Singapore.