Atelier André Martinez
Example of hand painted dial
André Martinez creates watch dials with hand-painted portraits, animals and art reproductions. From the age of 3, André has been incessantly drawing and painting.
At the age of 16, he enrolls in the Ecole des Arts Appliqués at La Chaux-de-Fonds, one of the cradles of the Swiss watch industry in the Swiss Jura Mountains. Following his obtention of a diploma of Jeweler - Stone setting master, he joins a well-known manufacturer of dials, then Patek Phillipe where he creates hand-made bespoke watch cases and dials. After an additional 5 years of creating dials he obtained a diploma of master trainer.
But his true passion, drawing and painting, took precedence, and he launched his own venture in 1995 as a “peintre miniaturiste”, being the very first one in Switzerland in this rarified field. Surprisingly enough, this is even for large established brands a very niche market. Yet, true connoisseurs and collectors go straight to the source and commission André for their one-of-a-kind timepieces. It takes on average 40 to 50 hours of intricate work to create one single dial….”the difficulty is not to paint small, it is to paint right” says André.
Numerous press articles have been devoted to André Martinez, who is widely considered the very best artisan dial painter in the entire industry.
André Martínez was the first atelier to offer miniature painting on mother-of-pearl in Switzerland, more than twenty-seven years ago. This jeweler, setter and, ultimately, painter, has spent his entire life artistically dedicating himself to high-end watchmaking. Each year, together with a small team, he can produce more than 400 pieces, for each of which he requires spending between 10 and 100 hours of work on each unrepeatable image.
“I don't know of a way of painting except this, in which you must have a sure and determined hand, a sharp eye and a good knowledge of drawing. In this way I can offer the person who acquires one of our watches the awareness of giving them the best of myself”.
“For months I tried all kinds of paints and varnishes that I brought from all over the world, but none gave me satisfaction. One day I discovered a house in Switzerland that produced varnishes of exceptional quality. These lacquers, which I adapt and improve, are worked with a brush directly on the dial for hours without drying. This way I can use many colors on my palette, mixing them together and obtaining magnificent gradients.”
To engrave the mother-of-pearls we have used a technique from the end of the 15th century called “eau forte”. It consists of applying varnish to a metal plate, engraving with a metal tip and spreading nitric acid to attack the exposed parts, achieving a hollow drawing.
We have transformed this technique by using a mixture of milder acids to engrave mother-of-pearl, a more fragile and delicate material. Finally, the hollow parts are painted with our colored lacquers, filled with 24-carat Gold or "Super Luminova" phosphorescent material.
PAINTED WITH GOLD DETAILS
For some of our creaions we have used 24K gold with which we fill the engraved parts. The gold is mixed with a clear lacquer that can be tinted to any colour. The paste obtained is spread with a brush over a very compact thickness of 0.1 millimeter.