In 2016 Harry Winston launched a limited edition series of watches called the Premier Precious Weaving Automatic 36mm. Behind this somewhat prosaic name were watches that featured interesting delicate woven dials made from Tahitian mother-of-pearl and silver threads woven into a silk mesh.
This first series having been a success, Winston have gone beyond the 36mm bejewelled-bezel 2016 models and launched a white gold cased limited edition called the Midnight Precious Weaving Automatic which allows the dial to shine.
Harry Winston mentions the type of weaving used in these dials as being derived from Raden. The Japanese lacquerware technique known as ‘Raden’ in which shell and ivory are used as decorative inlays for products made with a wood base has its roots in Chinese laquerware, which used shell-inlaid decorative patterns as far back as the Tang dynasty (618–907), during which sheets of silver or gold were applied to lacquerware. In this as in other aspects of Japanese culture, the Chinese style migrated to Japan, where it took root.
Modern technology and thus techniques have enabled Japan’s textile makers and crafts people to apply innovation to traditional crafts. In 1977 the firm of Tamiya Raden developed a method of weaving with mother-of-pearl inlays through the mounting of shells onto washi paper, which is then shredded and hand woven on a loom (for example with silk, although other materials are also possible) into fabric.
This is a modern spin on ‘Hikihaku’, a traditional weaving technique using metallic threads in which gold, silver, or even platinum leaf is combined with paper coated in lacquer, and then cut by hand into fine yarn that can then be woven.
This type of fabric is traditionally used on a bigger scale, for kimonos, obi and the like, so for their first dials using this fabric last year, the patterning and textures had to be miniaturised, after a fashion. The result is a delicate surface that shimmers and plays with light.
Inside the 42mm sized 18 carat white gold case is the automatic Harry Winston Calibre HW2008, which beats at 28,800 VPH and has a power reserve of three days. It features a flat silicon balance spring, an 18 white white gold open-worked rotor, Côtes de Genève decoration, and circular graining.
In a limited edition of fifty pieces, the new Midnight Precious Weaving Automatic comes on a black American alligator leather strap with an 18 carat white gold buckle.