Swiss watchmaker DeLaneau specialises in watches for women featuring miniature masterpieces on hand painted dials

It is not entirely surprising if you have not heard of DeLaneau. This watch company has been quietly going about its business, head down, for 84 years, making timepieces like no others.

Founded in 1949 by Rolf and Yolanda Tschudin in Switzerland, the company first began making watches as private commissions and for the big name jewellery houses in Place Vendôme. So spectacular were its gem-set watches that the house soon became known as the ‘jeweller of watches’.

The firm continues to make some of the most original jewellery watches I have ever seen, employing a variety of techniques. Enamelling was added to its offerings in 2001 and ever since, DeLaneau has distinguished itself with its highly creative and individual watches, which combine the artistry of enamelling with gem-setting and engraving. 

Based in Geneva, the historic centre of enamelling, overlooking the lake, today the enamel workshop is at the heart of the firm. Specialising in watches for women, each of these enamel dials is a masterpiece, painted through binoculars onto gold discs, often no bigger than a coin.

DeLaneau’s enamel artists use the ‘sous fondant’ technique of Grand Feu enamelling, which adds an extra richness and depth of colour. But this task requires great skill as the artist does not know what the finished painting will look like until the final firing, when the true colours come through. Along the way, the multiple high-heat firings in the furnace can destroy the entire process, a temper-fraying routine that tests the skill and patience of the artist. 

This year’s ‘Flower Fields’ collection of timepieces is inspired by the work of Impressionist artists. The watch dials capture the hazy summer scene of meadows in bloom. Or you can request a specific painting in enamel for your watch. When I last visited the hushed Genevan workshops, one artist was working on an image of an icon, the work so refined that it is only truly appreciated through a magnifying glass.

The house still produces elaborate gem-set watches, and often the enamel dials are enhanced by the sparkle of diamonds. And as beautiful as the outside of the watches may be, the hard mechanics have not been overlooked. Each watch is furnished with respectable mechanical movements to match the quality of its dial and case, and some models incorporate a highly sophisticated tourbillon regulator.

This time-consuming artisanal approach chimes with us at a time when individuality and craftsmanship are increasingly valued over big brand names. “Ladies enjoy our watches in the way they might enjoy a beautiful ring,” explains Brigitte Morina, Creative Director of DeLaneau. “Our clients are women who appreciate craftsmanship and the work of jewellery making. It is all about the bespoke nature of the watch, the joy of knowing who made it and the story behind it.”


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    DeLaneau Atame Jade with white gold case, set with 30 baguette-cut emeralds, 255 diamonds, four onyx and four emerald cabochons. The jade dial is set with four baguette-cut diamonds.

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    DeLaneau’s Ado Butterfly is set with 351 diamonds on the white gold case. It crown is ruby-set, and four lozenge tourmalines decorate the Grand Feu enamel dial.

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    DeLaneau’s Tiger’s Eye watch has a red gold case set with 184 diamonds and Grand Feu enamel dial.

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    DeLaneau’s Dome Inseparables Neophima Elegans is set with emeralds and diamonds around a Grand Feu dial.

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    The red gold case of DeLaneau’s Atame Colibri Summer watch is set with 112 diamonds and four onyx. Diamonds also decorate the Grand Feu enamel dial.

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    DeLaneau’s Haute Couture Joaillerie Grace Rubis white gold watch, set with more than 600 diamonds and 214 cabochon-cut rubies.

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    DeLaneau’s Atame Flying Parrot has a white gold case set with 126 baguette-cut sapphires and 119 diamonds on the Grand Feu enamel dial.

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    DeLaneau’s Atame Ying & Yang watch recreates this classic Chinese philosophy in Grand Feu enamelling and precious gems.

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    From the new ‘Flower Fields’ collection, the hand-painted enamel dial on DeLaneau’s Rondo Tulip Field watch was inspired by Impressionist paintings.

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    DeLaneau’s Magic Rubies is a secret watch. Set with 23ct of diamonds and rubies, the unique revolving system allows the wearer to slide the top of the watch to the side to reveal the hidden dial.

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    The limited-edition DeLaneau Tourbillon Dôme Feline.

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    Another timepiece from DeLaneau’s new ‘Flower Fields’ collection, the Atame Tulip Field watch has a colourful Grand Feu enamel dial and diamond accents.