By Maria Doulton in London
'Bespoke', 'made-to-measure' and 'custom-crafted' are overused terms, and nowhere more so than in the world of luxury. To qualify as a truly unique object, made just for you, a tweak here and a detail there is simply not enough to merit the use of any of these terms.
Which is why DeLaneau's made-to-measure watches stand out in their adherence to the criteria of what constitutes a truly unique object. The Geneva-based watch house is capable of producing a dial of which only one will exist. You can either choose a watch created by DeLaneau's artists that is guaranteed to be a one-off or, together with the creative team, sit down and discuss just what you want your watch to look like.
Be it a religious icon, a favourite painting or even a flower you love, your ideas will first be translated into a sketch. Much like the process for creating an haute couture outfit, designing a bespoke DeLaneau watch is an ongoing conversation and exchange of ideas between you and the artists.
Once a sketch is agreed upon, different materials and crafts can be considered. From complex enamelling such as plique-à-jour, in which light shines through windows of coloured enamel, and translucent pailloné, where gold foil shines through the enamel, to miniature painting or engraving, DeLaneau's artists will research the best options to bring your commission to life. Hundreds of hours of work, peering through a magnifying binocular, goes into each masterpiece.
And there is also the option of using decorative hard stones and precious stones, including diamonds or richly coloured gemstones. Take the new Rondo Icon. This piece uses several different skills to create a dial depicting the Virgin Mary and Christ. The miniature painting is created using Grand Feu enamelling combined with cloisonné and champlevé work for the details on the Virgin's red headdress, surrounded by gold foil pailloné halos. The rest of the dial shimmers with the fire of 302 diamonds to complete the biblical scene. A further 36 baguette-cut diamonds and 288 brilliant-cut diamonds adorn the case.
Offering another level of exclusivity, DeLaneau's Grace jewellery watches are completely unique and represent an exquisite coming-together of precious stones and diamonds in a meticulously wrought mesh of gold. So delicate and precise is the metalwork that the stones appear to drift freely across the wrist.
The Grace Pear Diamonds jewellery watch, which will be revealed for the first time at Baselworld 2014, sees sparkling white gems create a random pattern that resembles ice floating on Arctic water. Also new is the dazzling Grace Demantoids watch. The most coveted coloured stone in the garnet family, punctuating the bracelet of colourful gems is a perfectly smooth, apple-green Grand Feu enamelled dial. For those who are after a more modest level of personalisation, the Rondo Translucent watches can be made in a rainbow of colours and with different diamond setting options.
With such a high degree of personalisation available, DeLaneau is quietly, watch by watch, making a name for itself as the go-to place for timepieces that are as individual as their owner.