At the start of December, we launched the Model 1 Fumé: a fresh iteration of our first watch, the Model 1. Fumé enamel first appeared on our Model 2 dial in 2019, and we believe it to be the first gradated watch dial to exist in the medium of enamel. Now, the Model 1 Fumé offers a lustrous reimagining of the best-selling classic, the fumé enamel giving its dial a new and mesmerising depth. But what exactly is fumé enamel?
Fumé translates to mean 'smoked' and is the term used to describe a dial that gradates from a solid hue in the centre to a dark rim, creating a striking and dusky effect.
It was a serendipitous moment that led to the creation of our fumé enamel dial. Different metals will react variably to the heat of the kiln during firing, and it was an experiment with enamel on silver - as opposed to the usual copper - that led the team to their fortuitous discovery. When sanded back, a convex warp in the silver revealed a translucent window through the enamel to the metal below.
The underside of a dial must sit flush with the movement beneath it, so the warp rendered it useless, but the effect was astonishing enough to lead to over a year of development to recreate the error in a uniform fashion.
In order to reproduce the fumé effect, the silver dial would have to be flat on the bottom, domed on top and have the right proportions to allow the enamel to gradate at the correct rate. If the space between the top of the dome and the lower edges is too deep, the dial colour will remain dark all over and vice versa if the enamel is too shallow. To create a fumé dial effectively takes the perfect mixture of achieving an accurate depth and using the right enamel.
The process began around 18 months ago and led the team to Struthers, a UK-based watchmaker. Struthers then put the team in touch with a die maker, who had previously made metal objects such as medals and coins with a hydraulic press, but who had not yet made watch dials. As a result, it took a lot of back and forth and trial and error before they found the perfect combination.