Jaeger-LeCoultre’s new Reverso Tribute Enamel timepiece features a miniature reproduction of the famous Kirifuri Waterfall painting by Hokusai.
This year Jaeger-LeCoultre commemorates the 90th anniversary of their iconic Reverso watch and, as part of the celebrations, have created a unique Reverso Tribute Enamel watch with a tribute to Japanese artist Hokusai.
Created by Jaeger-LeCoultre’s in-house atelier Métiers Rares (Rare Handcrafts), the new one-off Reverso Enamel unites European craftsmanship with Japanese art and features an enamel miniature painting on the reverse side that faithfully reproduces a woodblock print of Kirifuri Waterfall made by Katsushika Hokusai in the early 1830s.
The Japanese artist best known in the West, Hokusai (1760–1849), was a highly prolific illustrator, printmaker, and ukiyo-e artist. His fame was secured when he was in his eighties, by his monumental woodblock print series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, which includes The Great Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), one of the world’s best-known works of art (of which Jaeger-LeCoultre honored that work by reproducing it as a miniature enamel painting on a limited-edition Reverso in 2018).
The Kirifuri Waterfall painting that features on the latest edition is one of series of eight woodblocks prints known as “A Tour of the Waterfalls,” waterfalls that Hokusai visited between 1831 and 1833 in different regions of Japans’s main island of Honshu.
Replicating the painting onto a metal “canvas” one-tenth the size posed many challenges in capturing every detail in perfect scale, including the group of tiny human figures at the base of the waterfall.
The enameller had to not only mimic the waterfall as it cascaded down the mountainside but also create the illusion of the woodblock printing technique, which produces a specific effect entirely different from enameling.
A particular challenge is that multi-colored prints require the use of multiple woodblocks, with each different color applied in turn, plus the added challenge of reproducing the bokashi effect of subtly nuanced and graduated colors seen in the original. To achieve these illusions, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s master enameller had to develop her own technique.
As with all enameling, the firing process can change colors in unpredictable ways, so for both the back and the front of the Reverso Tribute Enamel Hokusai, many hours of research and experiment were required so that the dial color would perfectly match the painting on the reverse and give a faithful rendering of Hokusai’s original colors. A further 70 working hours were required to paint the miniature masterpiece.
No price has been revealed for the one-off Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Enamel Hokusai Kirifuri Waterfall.