At the risk of stating the obvious, the dial is the clear focal point of these watches that double as artworks, and where the majority of the attention has been spent. Each balloon on each dial represents an actual event from the history of ballooning. Specifically, they correspond to different balloons that took flight in late 18th century France, just prior to the French Revolution, and they include: Paris 1783, Paris 1784, Versailles 1783, Bordeaux 1784, and Bagnols 1785. The two that we had a chance to photograph here at HODINKEE HQ are Paris 1783 and Bagnols 1785. Each three-dimensional balloon is secured at four points to the main framework of the colorfully translucent dials, which are themselves decorated with plique-à-jour enamel, an incredibly difficult type of enamel to master. Similar to cloisonné enamel, in which a flat filament separates individual pieces of deposits of enamel baked onto a metal backing, plique-à-jour goes a step further by dispensing with the backing. The result is an enamel with a gauzy, translucent property to it that resembles stained glass. Four empty frames in the upper and lower portion of each dial are windows through which the hours, minutes, day, and date are displayed.
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