DeLaneau : The 12th art in the feminine mode

Few brands devote their entire range of creations to women. Only one offers them nothing but one-of-a-kind models. Providing such a highly exclusive feminine interpretation of the art of time measurement borders on perfection. Officially instated as the 12th art in 2012, the art of time measurement finds an exceptional ambassador in DeLaneau. A reference in exceptional enamelling, with a keen taste for miniature paintings sublimating the dials of its timepieces, DeLaneau now adds a new string to its magical bow. The invention of a new technique calls for a blend of passion and precision, patience and ingenuity. Successfully applying it to watchmaking and jewellery implies combining this expertise with keen creativity without restraining the latter. Such an alliance is based on solid foundations and a temporal dimension that is not always perceptible at first glance and which deserves to be explained in detail. This cooperative endeavour between GMT and the artisans of DeLaneau is only the visible part of the iceberg. Welcome to the world of the 12th art expressed in a supremely feminine mode.

True luxury is not about excess, competitiveness or overt displays of wealth – it is about an understanding of quality, craftsmanship and exclusivity. These elements are key to the creation of a DeLaneau watch, and each and every one we make remains true to this ethos through and through. Such commitment has been a cornerstone of the DeLaneau philosophy since its founding in 1949 when it was established in Biel, Switzerland, as a producer of bespoke watches for private collectors. Gradually, its reputation as a true artisan watch house began to grow and now, more than 60 years later, it is recognised for both its exclusivity and for its exceptional standards of artistry.
A key signature of the DeLaneau brand is its mastery of Grand Feu enamelling at the highest level, on which it places a greater emphasis than perhaps any other watch house in existence. The number of people in the world who are capable of executing a finely detailed painting on the tiny surface area of a watch dial is small to say the least.
In addition to enhancing its watches with the finest enamelling, DeLaneau also prides itself on the skills of its hand engravers who work in tandem with the enamellers to create the magical designs that have become a DeLaneau trademark. The finishing touch, meanwhile, is often provided by the addition of the superb gemstones that DeLaneau has consistently used to lend a touch of sparkle to its pieces for decades. Mechanical movements, elegant complications and creative high-jewellery timepieces complement these remarkable works of arts and crafts.


Distinctly uncommon watches
Indeed, it is this dedication to hand craftsmanship, to individual design and to an exceptional level of finish that ensures that every DeLaneau creation is truly unique. As a result each piece takes time to evolve, meaning production capacity is naturally limited.




David Gouten, Chief Executive Officer

What has changed at DeLaneau since you arrived ? Firstly, it is important to point out that DeLaneau has developed, not changed. Passion is still uppermost as well as emotions and the exceptional linked to the inspirations of each and every one. DeLaneau incorporates stories and dreams into its creations. To maintain and develop this, the team needed to be reinforced with a number of impassioned members. Our company remains an ardent fan of enamel. The enamel workshop, in particular with its mastery of email sous fondant (under a protective coating called a flux), a technique mastered by only a very few people, remains at the heart of the company, surrounded by craftsmen who are resolutely focused on watchmaking trades. This makes our creations unique. Then, our return to Basel in 2012, with the presence of our Enamel Workshop, enabled us to increase our international presence by sharing our dreams and creations through 20 of the best access points worldwide, which are the watchmaking retailers and jewellery partners.

What are your priorities today ?
The first remains and will always remain to share our passion with our clientele as well as DeLaneau specialities. Geneva’s sous-fondant under-flux enamelling technique, is really complicated and makes our pieces exceptional. It deserves to be explained. We also have to develop this connoisseur network which consists of ardent defenders of our Art. With this in mind, we have also launched partnerships in Hong Kong, in Macao, a well as in Singapore and in a few countries in the Gulf. We are also present in Russia, the Ukraine and England, at Harrods for example, and in Cannes. Europe and America still need to be developed.

As a man, why would you give a DeLaneau to a woman you love ?
One gives a DeLaneau because the messages it conveys are deep and true. Like the woman one loves, it is unique, and there is great passion and hidden emotion. That is what makes them both exceptional, as indeed is the gesture itself. A DeLaneau watch is the quintessence of the artistic crafts as well as of the art of loving.


Brigitte Morina, Chief Creative Officer

Where does your inspiration come from? What guides DeLaneau’s creativity ?
It originates from and is linked with nature and art throughout the entire creation process, its various expressions and appearances.It evolves and deepens through talking and sharing, through our artisans and also through significant people in my life. My creative guidelines somehow always relate to nature, its purity and wildness, sensuality and passion, calmness and integrity. It can be always interpreted differently and true art means being able to capture and show this beauty. I love sharing with our artisans and listening to them and their heart. That is the true value of DeLaneau pieces.

What makes the brand unique ?
The brand is unique by virtue of its approach from the very beginning. All our creations are one-of-a-kind pieces. We devote ourselves to every single one with passion, emotion and enthusiasm and it is often a pity to create only a single piece. The uniqueness lies in our respect for our artisans and craftsmen as well as in their dedication to their work and creations.
It is a truly magical moment each time one sees a complete new dial for the first time. Incredible and deeply satisfying! That is the moment you understand how an outstanding creation is born of inspiration and profound work. DeLaneau is the only brand that creates truly bespoke pieces from the ground up – mostly for women, whose wishes become our commands. Our satisfaction is derived from their appreciation.

What are the main novelties in 2013 (techniques, collections) ?
We have touched on and developed several new lines in our collection as well as opened new vistas for our inspiration and growth. One of them, both new and exciting, is Gem Art, where we introduce a new technique of combining curving and precious gem-setting. The other delves further into the enamel techniques our artisans master and develop to perfection. These dials bear the name “Flower Fields”.



Rondo Translucent

Translucent – DeLaneau captures nature’s colours through the power of light
DeLaneau this year extends its renowned mastery of the enamelled watch dial by introducing an all-new creation – Translucent. As the name suggests, these special-edition masterpieces combine the strength of a single colour with the power of light to produce an appearance of remarkable and understated beauty.
Before the enamel is applied, the dial of each Translucent watch is decorated with an underlying guilloché pattern created by master engravers and inspired by the patterns found on antique, filigree-patterned boxes. After this, the dial is enamelled and fired in-house in a slow and meticulous process which ensures absolute uniformity of colour and depth, but which still allows the pattern to refract light to create a unique effect.
Once the required finish is achieved, the now exceptionally delicate dial is laser-drilled at the 12 o’clock position to enable the setting of a single, flat, precious stone. This serves as the DeLaneau signature on a dial which is otherwise unadorned in order that the true beauty of its semi-transparency can be seen to the best effect.
The end result is one of great simplicity, something which happens so easily in nature but which can usually be achieved by man only with great difficulty. When it succeeds, however, it results in an understatement and sophistication that transcends style, time and fashion – making the Translucent a watch for all seasons, all occasions and all stages of life.
Every Translucent watch contains a high-quality automatic movement and can be set around the bezel with either diamonds or precious stones of a colour to match the dial. The lugs of the case can also be set with the same type of stones or, alternatively, with diamonds.


Miniature painting is an especially complex art

It requires genuine talent as an artist, but also the ability to work with an incredibly fine brush and mastery of the techniques necessary for enamel.
DeLaneau has risen to the challenge of creating an automatic movement with Jumping Hour and Minute. The absence of hands opens up unlimited possibilities for dial expressions.



Red gold case set with 65 baguette-cut chocolate diamonds and 98 chocolate diamonds. Crown set with chocolate diamond. “Andalou Horse” Grand Feu enamel dial set with 125 diamonds. Automatic movement. Alligator strap with red gold deploying buckle set with 60 chocolate diamonds. Unique piece.



A decade ago, DeLaneau decided to break entirely new horological ground by making the first ever tourbillon wristwatch designed specifically for women.
Working with the legendary creator of Haute Horlogerie complications, Christophe Claret, DeLaneau devised and created a small series of hand-wound, tourbillon watches with cases and dials enhanced by the delicate gem-setting and enamelling techniques for which the brand has become renowned. Each unique piece in some way celebrates nature – and the skills of DeLaneau’s master enamellers, engravers and gem-setters. As well as being truly remarkable works of art, the new DeLaneau tourbillon editions also represent an exceptional horological achievement because they are the first watches ever to feature movement plates which are set with precious stones. Each plate is adorned with 80 stones, comprising a combination of baguette diamonds with either further diamonds, emeralds, rubies or sapphires. The setting of each plate takes many hours and requires the use of only the finest and most accurately cut stones, all of which must be of a uniform shape in order to fit perfectly into the mechanism of the watch and ensure its mechanical integrity. The tourbillon – or ‘whirlwind’, as it would be called in English – has been adopted by many high-level watch makers in recent years, yet its mesmerizing action continues to make it the most coveted of complications of Haute Horlogerie. Now, in breaking new ground by enhancing the mechanism within which it sits, DeLaneau has made the tourbillon more fascinating than ever.


Tradition meets modernity

Traditional methods and tools are still used to create DeLaneau’s pieces. But this mastery of ancient techniques does not mean a DeLaneau watch can ever be described as being old-fashioned : a tireless pursuit of uniqueness and exclusivity ensures that fresh ideas are constantly being explored and traditional boundaries extended.


Legend on top:

Atame Flower Field
White gold case set with 30 baguette-cut and 291 brilliant-cut diamonds. Crown and cabochons set with diamonds. Grand Feu enamel dial. Automatic movement. Alligator strap equipped with a white gold buckle, set with 36 diamonds. Unique piece.

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

Review overview