The Formosa clouded leopard, endemic to the island, is an important symbol in the collective consciousness of the Taiwanese. The Paiwan aboriginal people consider the leopard to be a spiritual icon. If not extinct, the animal is extremely rare. Blancpain had a wish to represent this emblematic feline by drawing on its expertise in the realm of hand decoration. Like the Formosa clouded leopard, the artistic techniques practiced by Blancpain are rare in watchmaking. Some, such as miniature enamel painting, are only offered by a handful of watch companies worldwide. Others, such as shakudō, are produced exclusively by the Manufacture. The range of Blancpain’s craftsmanship is vast and represents an age-old heritage.
Five skills, fully integrated within the Métiers d’Art workshops at the “Farm” in Le Brassus – as is always the case at Blancpain – have been selected to interpret the theme of the Taiwanese clouded leopard on the dial: the art of porcelain, miniature enamel painting, shakudō, engraving and damascening. The two one-of-a-kind models resulting from the meticulous work of Blancpain artisans represent the clouded leopard in its forest habitat. A skilled acrobat, this animal enjoys hiding in the trees. Trunks and foliage have been patiently painted or hand-carved in minute detail. The same naturally applies to the majestic feline. Also crafted using the enamel painting on porcelain and engraving techniques, along with shakudō, its tawny coat with spots reminiscent of clouds is strikingly realistic. On the engraved model, the craftsmen of the Manufacture have gone so far as to inlay the panther’s whiskers hair by hair, made of gold threads almost as fine as a silk ribbon, in accordance with the art of damascening.
The dials thus executed come to life beneath the artist’s fingers, giving rise to the kind of emotions that stem from blending aesthetics with technical perfection. The Formosa clouded leopard enamel painted on porcelain is framed by a 33mm white gold case with a diamond-set bezel. The accompanying movement is the Manufacture 1154 self-winding calibre, whose meticulous finishing is revealed through the back of the timepiece. The engraved and damascened shakudō model comes in a 45mm red gold case. Traditionally favoured for highly decorative timepieces, the sapphire crystal caseback reveals the 15B hand-wound movement adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif.