First, my dream has always been to get a Basel special edition rare handcraft watch with an enamel dial. This dream I have always thought would be impossible to achieve, but hey, it costs nothing just to dream, right ?
Second, this reference with its lion motif appeared pleasantly and unexpectedly in Basel 2017. I immediately felt that this lion enamel dial was destined to be the sibling to an earlier Chopard piece I had collected. After several years of admiring and finally acquiring the Chopard Urushi Jungle watch a little while back, I showed the Jungle to several friends (including staff members at my AD). Quite a few of them mentioned that the motif (especially the lion) must have been inspired by a Henri Rousseau painting. Not knowing much about Rousseau, I did some research and realized that they were referring to the painting “The Dream”, which was the last painting made by Henri Rousseau (a self-taught post-impressionist artist) before he passed away in 1910.
During Basel 2017, my AD was very thoughtful and alerted me to this 5089 handcraft enamel series named “Le Douanier Rosseau”. According to Wikipedia, Rousseau “was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a toll and tax collector.” Obviously I was intrigued and asked & also researched for more details.
This series consists of four watches, 052 The Lion, 053 The Owl, 068 The Leopard, and 069 The Bird. Performing more research, I found out that the Lion and the Bird were based on the painting “The Dream” whereas The Owl and The Leopard were based on the painting “The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope”. Naturally, the meaningful one for me was 052 the Lion (although any one of these watches are very special) and started “The Dream” that my AD could get an allocation for me !
Owl photo is taken from the recent post by another PuristS
For this “Le Douanier Rosseau” series, there are six sets only. Yearly Basel handcraft watches are special editions produced in very limited pieces and I have thought that meant around 10 pieces or so. Anyway, the policy apparently is to allocate a piece each, rather a set each, for a single customer.
Third, while awaiting for the decision on the allocation, this reference was becoming a BIGGER dream because I realized that these dials are made by the world renown enameler Anita Porchet ! Reviewing images, I saw that the initials “AP” (Anita Porchet) at 8 o’clock of these dials. Ms Porchet is highly regarded in the watch world in making various type of enamel dials for big Maisons. For Patek enamel dial wrist/pocket watches, I believe that nowadays Ms Porchet is the only enameler (other Suzanne Rohr who works on enamel painting for pocket watches) whose initials appear on the dials.
Below are more photos of my “Dream” coming true ! This series is made with the champlevé enameling method under which engraving is made on the dial for the motif and then filled with enamel colors for rounds of firing. Hence, the surface of the dial is smooth and the effect is 3D because of the different colors are bursting to get out from the grooves. The color gradation is excellent and there are quite a few shadings of various colors. The enamel work on this piece is the best out of my humble collection of watches with enamel dials (Patek and Ulysse Nardin).
At first when seeing the watch for the first time, I noticed it was a solid case back. Upon closer inspection, I found out that it had an officer case with a great design for the very discrete hinge mechanism, same as reference 5227.
Final wrist shot to end this long post ! LOL !
What are your thoughts (including likes and dislikes) on the Lion and this Rosseau series?