Thomaï Serdari on Fine Arts & Luxury

Napoleon’s watch by Chaumet

Paris offers plenty of opportunities to all of us who like looking at art, or simply, at beautiful things. Place Vendôme, even if a little old-fashioned today, remains the center of Haute Joaillerie and occasionally offers illuminating, off-the-beaten-path exhibits on the history of jewelry and watch making.

A tradition of about 200 years distinguishes La Maison Chaumet among other fine establishments of Swiss watchmakers—Chaumet has preserved the meticulous attention to Swiss tradition and exactitude with its trademarked complex movements but has embellished its production with a flair of Parisian refinement. Audacious innovations entered the market under the name of Chaumet since the beginning of the 19th century when the brand’s founder, François-Regnault Nitot, created new designs for Europe’s royals.

In 1813, Nitot created the watch illustrated here. A round face in enamel, its circumference dotted in pearls, bears the monogram N at the center under the crown of Napoléon. While this is a collection piece (not for sale), it is a precursor of later styles that La Maison Chaumet developed by specializing in the craft of enameling, a technique that the brand’s craftsmen have developed to a true art. Contemporary examples of enameled watches include models such as Dandy Réserve de Marche or Dandy Heures Sautantes. Looking to tradition for inspiration results in more innovative products than what the run-of-the-mill contemporary luxury brand can offer.

© Thomaï Serdari