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Thousands of years old and sophisticated The art of enamelling

The art of enameling has been around for about 3,500 years. Augustus the Strong, the Elector of Saxony, was a devotee of the technique. His court jeweler, Johann Melchior Dinglinger, created precious pieces in enamel, which are today on show in the Green Vault in Dresden’s Castle.

 

Enameling was also very frequently used to make the dials for pocket watches. These days, there are very few experts skilled in this highly complicated process, so that enameled dials are very rarely found in wristwatches.
 

The art of enamelling

The process of making an enameled dial takes several days, during which the different steps have to be repeated again and again. The greatest challenge: absolute cleanliness, to prevent the inclusion of the smallest particle of dust or dirt, which would mar the smoothness of the structure. “Enamel is capricious, and can’t be hurried,” Lange’s enamel experts explain.

The raw glass is crushed into tiny particles with a mortar and pestle.

Preparation of the enamel

First of all, the basic raw material, a special kind of glass, is reduced to microscopic fragments by rubbing and crushing in a mortar, so that it can then be sieved or applied wet with a brush.

Counter-enamel is applied to the back side of the dial

Treatment of the back

Counter-enamel is applied to the back of the dial. This is necessary to prevent distortion of the enamel on the dial side through excessive stresses.

Interstices are filled with enamel using a fine brush

Filling interstices

Small interstices between letters and figures are filled with enamel using 
a fine brush.

The fine enamel dust is uniformly sieved onto the dial

Sieving

The fine enamel powder is spread evenly over the dial with a sieve. The piece is then fired briefly at a temperature of several hundred degrees in a special kiln. These steps may be repeated several times.

The enamel dust is collected on aluminium foil

Enamel dust

During sieving, the fine enamel dust is collected on a piece of 
aluminium foil.

After every firing pass, the dial slowly cools down

Firing and cooling

After each firing, the dial is cooled slowly on a fireproof support. Only when the dial has been completely dried and cleaned can the sieving operation be repeated. This process takes several days.

A black enamelled dial

Metamorphosis

The more enamel layers are applied, the darker the final surface 
appears. Thus, the blue shimmering enamel particles turn into the black 
dial eventually.

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