July 7, 2009
by Ariel Adams
Swiss Angular Momentum is of the most experimental and artistic of all watch companies out there. Especially when it comes to sheer volume on interesting watches. Using the reserve sapphire crystal painting technique called Eglomisé, Angular Momentum has a plethora of fascinating styles and watches with paintings on them that you’ll likely not see anywhere. A perfect example are these Verre Eglomisé “Animal Portrait” and “Exotic Birds” collection watches. Each is pretty limited in production and there are well over a dozen watches in the collection. Pictured are only four examples of particularly eccentric versions that I think epitomize the “risks” taken in the designs.
The value of the watches comes from the construction of the timepieces as well as the great amount of time necessary for the artist to delicately hand paint each portrait in reverse. For me, I love the creativity and effort taken to create serious paintings of animals that we are both used to having as decoration, and those that we aren’t. Sure there are tigers and beautiful birds in the collection that we commonly see as adornments, but then you also have animals like a rooster and frog. There are even hippos on one of the watches (part of a different collection called “The Wild Life” also by Angular Momentum), and other less than iconic “I want to be associated with these animals type creatres.” I think it is all about the “tattoo test.” It is not hard to imagine a guy getting a tattoo of a tiger right? But what about a deer with big antlers. I am sure it exists, but it is much less common. That is why I love the fact that one of these Animal Portrait watches has just that, a painting of a buck. Same goes for the green tree frog, as well as such creatures like the flamingo. No matter what the animal, they are given a prize-worthy portrait on one of the splendid watches.
Each painting is on a sapphire crystal which is also the watch dial. On top of the hands, another sapphire crystal is applied. The steel watch cases are 42mm wide and inside the watches is an automatic movement. This collection features a traditionally laid out three-hand watch dial, while other Eglomisé painted watches by Angular Momentum feature their hour disc system. These watches also have diamond settings on the bezel and lugs, but also come without such decoration I am sure. I like the added spectacle of the jewels though. The style of painting yields a very clear image that will not fade, and is so very detailed. The artists responsible for the work are experienced masters indeed.
For a moment I can imagine that my entire watch collection is made up of these beautiful artistic timepieces. Each day I could choose to wear a different animal. People seeing my watches would always be curious about the “guy with the parrot or cockatoo watch.” Would they be a match to my personality, or just part of an eccentric character. I don’t know the result, but it would be fun to find out.
These watches are not cheap due to the level of time and effort required to make them. Many of these watches are available on James List right now though a dealer who has many or most of the collections. The watches go for about 15,000 euros each – depending on the model (around $20,000 or so). A price in accordance with anything that is a luxury timepiece embodying masterwork hand applied art of this style.
See the Angular Momentum Eglomisé The Animal Portrait and Exotic Birds Collection watches available on James List here.