Glossary of watchmaking

Painting on enamel

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Painting on enamel

A speciality of Limoges in the sixteenth century and perfected by Jean Toutin in around 1624, this style of painting uses vitrifiable colours.

A gold or copper plate is coated with base enamel then fired. The colours are in powder form which the enamel-painter dilutes as and when they are needed using an oily or semi-oily essence, before applying them with a fine brush. Each colour is dried then fired before the next is applied. A portrait can be fired numerous times. Miniature painting on enamel is still used to decorate watch cases and in particular exceptional dials. Some of the great master enamellists were Petitot (1630-1643), Henry and Jean Toutin Du Guernier, Prieur, Signac (between 1643 and 1685) and Huaud in Switzerland.