Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai ‘Amida Falls’: A Work of Art

by Pressroom

Limited to 10 pieces, the latest Reverso masterpiece pays homage to the art of ancient woodblock printing.

A classic of 20th century design, personalization has been at the core of the Reverso since it entered the scene in 1931. From engraving to enamelling on the case-back and the countless possibilities in the combination of dial motifs and colours, its duality in expression is the perfect canvas for artistic expression – the swivelling case revealing different stories and personalities.

This year, in its latest homage to art, Jaeger-LeCoultre honours the work of 19th-century Japanese master, Katsushika Hokusai with the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai ‘Amida Falls’. This limited-edition timepiece features on its case-back, an intricate hand-enamelled miniature reproduction of “The Amida Falls in the Far Reaches of the Kisokaidō Road” (Kisoji no oku Amida-ga-taki), the most renowned work among “A Tour of Waterfalls in Various Provinces” (Shokoku taki meguri), a series of eight woodblock prints created by Hokusai in 1833–34.

The ‘Waterfalls’ series was produced when Hokusai was in his seventies, and is considered by many art historians to be among the finest landscapes ever produced.  As one of a few Japanese artists in the 19th century who elevated the ancient practice of woodblock printing from popular “low” art to high art form, Hokusai was innovative not only in subject matter, but also in colour and composition. The beloved ‘Amida Falls’ epitomises his fascination with the power of cascading water and monumental land forms that dwarf the human figures enjoying a picnic nearby.

Reproducing this mighty work of art on a surface of just three square centimetres, which is slightly less than a tenth of its original size, is no mean feat. Jaeger-LeCoultre’s master artisans had to depict Hokusai’s original image accurately and ensure its essence is not lost. The enamellers didn’t just face the challenge of replicating every detail of the composition perfectly in a miniaturised form but also had to create the illusion of the woodblock printing technique which is entirely different from enamelling. They achieved this with a special technique that reproduces the distinctive bokashi effect of the subtly nuanced gradation of colours on works originally printed on paper, while also capturing the intense blues and yellows – a signature of Hokusai’s work. This process takes 70 hours of work over the course of many weeks, including a total of 12 to 15 separate firings at 800 degrees Celsius.

To complement this intricate miniature painting on the case-back, the Reverso Tribute dial – with its faceted appliqué hour-markers and Dauphine hands – focuses on the mastery of simplicity with a richly textured guilloché lozenge pattern made from translucent Grand Feu enamel in a shade of luscious green. Crafted by hand, using a century-old lathe, the process of creating the lozenge pattern calls for deft hands and immaculate skill. Each of the 60 lines that makes up the pattern requires three passages of the lathe – that translates to a total of 600 passages; for every passage, the dial plate must be held at the exact same angle so that the lines are crisply etched and forms a perfectly symmetrical pattern. This process requires around four hours of extreme focus and precision, and is followed by a week’s worth of work involving the application of at least six layers of translucent enamel, each separately fired. The process concludes with the flawless application of the indexes (which requires tiny holes to be drilled through the pristine surface of the enamel) and the transfer of the chemin de fer minutes register.

Limited to 10 pieces, initially offered in Japan, this magnificent showcase of precision and artistry features a black alligator strap paired with a white gold case that houses a manually Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 822/2 with a power reserve of 42 hours.

The Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai ‘Amida Falls’ showcases the exceptional artistry and skill of the artisans working in the Manufacture’s Métiers Rares® (Rare Handcrafts) atelier, and epitomises La Grande Maison’s vision of the world of art and culture. This masterpiece also completes a trilogy of Reverso Tribute Enamel timepieces that pay homage to Hokusai – another work from his ‘Waterfalls’ series, Kirifuri Waterfall at Kurokami Mountain in Shimotsuke (Shimotsuke Kurokamiyama Kirifuri-no-taki) that was released in 2021, and a reproduction of his most famous work, The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nama ura) in 2018.

Images courtesy of Jaeger-LeCoultre, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.

Related Links:

Jaeger-LeCoultre: In Perpetual Motion

Dialling It Up

Jaeger-LeCoultre: Into Thin Air

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