Jaeger-LeCoultre has unveiled two additions to its Reverso Tribute collection, graced with enamel miniatures of Hokusai’s “The Waterfall at Ono on the Kisokaido Road” and “The Waterfall Where Yoshitsune Washed his Horse at Yoshino in Yamato Province.” These new pieces highlight the Métiers Rares (Rare Handcrafts) workshop’s mastery, featuring intricate Grand Feu enamel paintings on the case-back that capture the essence of Hokusai’s woodblock prints. The dials reflect a blend of Eastern and Western artistry, combining traditional guillochage with enamel work.
In this endeavor, the Geneva technique stands central—a laborious process involving upwards of 14 layers of enamel, each fired at high temperatures of 800°C to achieve the right hue and consistency. A staggering 80 hours are dedicated to this phase alone, ensuring that every detail, every shade of Hokusai’s work is represented with stunning accuracy.
Achieving the original colors and precise detail on a scale nearly one-tenth the size of the original prints requires a steady hand and an eye for detail that borders on the superhuman. This precision is especially evident in the reproduction of the cartouches at the top of each print, where the enameler painstakingly inscribes the captions from Hokusai’s prints by hand, maintaining readability at a microscopic scale.
The dials of these exceptional timepieces are a canvas in themselves, displaying handcrafted guilloché work. For instance, the Waterfall at Ono dial is adorned with a barleycorn pattern, demanding three to four hours of exacting labor. In contrast, the Waterfall at Yoshino dial features a complex lozenge pattern composed of 800 lines, each refined with five rounds of the lathe. This portion of the process accumulates about eight hours of work. Following the guilloché, multiple layers of translucent green enamel are applied, with each layer requiring separate sessions of heating and drying, adding another eight hours of meticulous effort spread across a week.
This series celebrates Hokusai, an iconic figure in ukiyo-e art, renowned for his innovative take on waterfall themes. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Métiers Rares has previously honored Hokusai with Reverso Tribute models showcasing “The Waterfall at Kirifuri” in 2021 and “The Amida Falls” in 2022.