This debut of Barcelona-born artist Andre Martinez shows the full skill and creativity he has at his fingertips. Perhaps one of the industry’s most prolific hidden talents, Mr Martinez has been the go-to artist for miniature painting in acrylic for some three decades. His clients over the years have ranged from Bovet to Van Cleef & Arpels. Martinez is now launching his own brand, starting with five watches, and the option of unique commissions.
Mr Martinez’s speciality of miniature painting in acrylic is often regarded as being lesser than enamel. That, however, is an unjust assessment because his very best work is outstanding with a level of artistry is not often seen. Painting with a single hair and microscope, Mr Martinez can produce (or reproduce) works of art with incredible detail – but on a very, very small scale.
In fact, the artistry is of a level that is nearly unmatched across the rest of the industry. You would need to turn to the likes of Anita Porchet to equal it, but even she works in a different medium.
Having the luxury to customise the motif that appears on the dial is a great bonus, with no restriction on subject or composition. The only thing that will stay the same is the naturally occurring mother-of-pearl canvas. So in some ways, the appeal of the final result depends on the taste of the client.
It is clear his work should be thought of as a piece of art first, and a watch second. While the quality of his painting is unquestionable, the case and movement might be considered a shortcoming. The creativity of Mr Martinez has been extended to the case design, although this might not be for everyone, the angular and brushed bezel creates a unique frame for the artwork inside it.
And the movement is an ETA 2892. A sturdy movement, found as the base of the Longines Master Collection Small Seconds that we looked at recently. With prices appearing to start around CHF40,000, this lower value movement detracts from the overall appeal of these pieces, since watches at this price typically have finer mechanics.
However, a similar hand-painted dial by Mr Martinez inside a watch from an establishment brand or jeweller would retail for more than twice that, making his own creations value buys in comparison.
Despite having been around the industry for decades already, and having more than left his mark, this launch from Mr. Martinez proves his dedication to this craft and ensuring that it is continued at the highest level in Switzerland. Produced using Swiss-made pigments, the level of detail that is possible is extremely high with dials already produced with depictions of a lion, a falcon, a mosque and a client’s on Cadillac. These paintings take anywhere between 40 to over 50 hours to produce.
Available in two different metals, either an 18k rose or grey gold alloy containing palladium, the case is made in a three-part construction. With a brushed finish on all facets of the six-sided bezel and a high shine polish found on the lugs and case back, which also features industrially produced engraving.
The movement is nothing special, but it is not meant to be either. The ETA 2892 quite doesn’t fill the 42 mm case, and has been given fairly basic machine finishes, but it is a stellar performer in terms of reliability and serviceability. The only real modification that is visible is the addition of a gold rotor matching the case metal stamped with “L’Art du Temps”.
Unusually for a watch like this, the watch is finished off with a rubber strap moulded to simulate crocodile leather. It is available in a number of different colours with an 18k gold pin buckle. The choice of strap material is deliberate: Mr Martinez opted for rubber as a matter of sustainability and to avoid using animal hides. “The rubber strap is made in Switzerland,” he adds, “and costs me more than a crocodile strap.”
Key facts and price
Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 9.6 mm
Material: 18k red or grey gold
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: ETA 2892
Features: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42 hours
Strap: Rubber with 18k gold pin buckle
Limited edition: No, each piece is a unique commission
Availability: Directly through Andre Martinez
Price: Dependent on design, starting at around CHF 40,000
For more information, visit atelierandremartinezsa.ch
Addition August 5, 2023: The rubber straps were deliberately selected to avoid the use of animal hides according to Mr Martinez.
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