There are watchmakers who produce thousands of watches on yearly bases. You also have the smaller independent watchmakers who create more or less pieces of art. These are of such rare quality it isn’t even possible to create ten pieces a year. Kees Engelbarts is one of them. With his latest creation, Platinum Tsuba Watch, he shows his skills of metalworking more than ever.
Kees Engelbarts a Dutchman who is based in Geneva Creates unique hand made watches. He uses an ancient Japanese technique called “Mokume Gane”. This Japanese metalworking procedure describes the way the metal takes on the appearance of natural wood grain. First made in the early 17th century is was mainly used for the decoration of the traditional samurai swords. Traditional metals often used were for example gold, copper, silver. These were made to sheets and stacked together, due to heating they were combined. This is a very difficult proces for the person in charge has to take notice of each metals melting point in order to join them together into one mass.
More modern ways of using this technic makes it also possible to use modern materials, like titanium, platinum, iron, bronze, etc. This proces is mostly done by machines in a controlled environment and not as much by heating the materials but more by pressing them together.
The woodgrain like appearance is made by cutting the surface with tools showing the lower layers. after the right layer is revealed the surface is flattened again. This proces is repeated until the right coloring is reached. Color can also be changed by reheating a certain area.
The piece of art
The dail of the Platinum Tsuba watch shows a well known scene of a Tsuba with a hawk and sparrow. A Tsuba is a round or in rare occasions a squareish guard at the eind of the grip of a japanese bladed weapon. It would prevent the hand of the fighter from sliding onto the blade and for protection from one’s opponent blade. These Tsuba’s where really pieces of art.
Kees has used a variety of different materials to make the dial. The hawk is made of red gold, the branch is made of mokume gane of pink gold/shakudo. The leafs are in green gold and the little sparrow is made of bronze. The smallest details are also in various materials, like the eye of the hawk that is in yellow gold with a silver center. The eye of the sparrow is also in yellow gold. The hawk’s feet are in yellow-gold and the claws made of silver. The base plate, on which the scene is mounted, is white-gold/silver mokume game and has been treated with nitric acid. This acid will attack the silver and leave the white gold unharmed and this accentuates the vertical shape structure and creates a relief.
Finally, the hands are in heat-blued steel. All elements have been cut out by hand, adjusted and then soldered together. Once assembled the elements are engraved by hand in the low-relief technique that gives a 3d effect when watching the scene from different angles. Some elements have been heated and/or treated chemically in order to change the colors giving the whole scene an antique atmosphere.
The watch case is made of 950 platinum. It has a sapphire front and back. The shape of the case is altered to make room for the main-spring barrel.
The movement is a AS 690, hand wound. It has a 8 days power reserve. The movement is also decorated with the Mokume Gane of white-gold and silver. The finishing in a stare like shape is amazing. The screwes are hand police, beveled and heat blued giving them a really exclusive finish.
hand-wound AS 690, 8 days power reserve, 17 jewels, 18’000 BPH, pusher at 2 o’clock position for time-setting
platinum 950, matte finish, 49 mm x 16mm, Sapphire crystal both sides with double anti-reflection treatment, Protrusion at 5 o’clock position to accommodate the main-spring barrel
|Bracelet/strap||exterior black alligator leather, interior black shark leather, solid platinum 950 buckle|
Photo’s by Guy Lucas de Peslouan