Halcyon Story

Halcyon, Born in Jingdezhen ( 90% of the more than 300,000 pieces of porcelain in the Palace's collection come from Jingdezhen Shanqixiang, the Curator of the Palace Museum), the hometown of porcelains, founded by a group of people who are passionate about porcelains and have made a career out of it - university teachers, heads of porcelain schools, porcelain artisans, painters, artists - all of whom have different professions but who all concur that porcelains hold a unique allure.

We settled on an arrangement very soon, with the famous porcelain artist, Ms. Sun Dena, leading the drawing of the dial and the art design of the watch, the former Hublot designer, Mr. Guo Sheng, with his team, supporting the tech design of the watch, while the rest of us drove the development of the dial.

We have rented the laboratory of Jingdezhen Porcelain University and a factory in Shenzhen with state-of-the-art perforation equipment. The tiles are initially stoked in the laboratory and then sent to Shenzhen for perforation, after which they are returned to Jingdezhen for glazing and then sent back to Shenzhen for tests of flatness and other factors. We never imagined that this process would take three years, during which we would have explored almost all the ingredients of the glaze, the glazing process, and the stoking process, just to get a porcelain tile with the unique Jingdezhen glaze into the case. Fortunately, although the process was long, we were able to do it, and on September 17, 2022, two porcelain dials that met the watchmaking requirements, as well as ours, and on September 30, 30 pieces were produced. Subsequently, in February 2023, hundreds of ceramic plates prepared for Origin were all produced.

The watch's porcelain dial is the only hurdle we have ever had to overcome, and once that is done, numerous conventional porcelain processes can be used. We were extremely happy with this, and we have plans to collaborate with additional renowned artists in the future to produce more miniature paintings as well as to use more conventional porcelain techniques to make watchs.

Eternal Elegance: The Art and Challenge of Porcelain Watch Dials

Porcelain has always been a symbol of eternal beauty, bearing the civilization and wisdom of humanity for thousands of years. Its delicate texture, lustrous sheen, and subtle color variations are truly captivating.

  • The luster of fine porcelain resembles oil: thick, warm, and captivating.

The luster of porcelain comes from the densely packed tiny bubbles on its surface and the texture of the glaze. The porcelain items we use daily are produced in a controlled assembly line manner, resulting in uniformly arranged bubbles that give the surface a glaring and monotonous shine.

To achieve a warm luster and delicate texture, two key conditions are required: pinewood firing and handcrafted work.

    During the prolonged burning process, which lasts for over a day, the oils from the burning pinewood gradually merge into the porcelain surface, giving it a warm sheen.

    A kiln fueled by pinewood (an enclosed room used for firing porcelain).

    From selecting materials, using them, and drying times, to firing temperatures, the artisan's decisions at each of the dozen or so steps, based on their experience, determine the size and arrangement of the final bubbles. These spontaneously formed bubble structures create complex light reflections and refractions, which, combined with the pine resin, endow the porcelain with a lustrous, captivating glow and a romantic soul.

    • To achieve a captivating luster, the tile must undergo a complex process that includes billet making, billet sharpening, glaze making, glaze blowing, wood preparation, wood filling, and kiln sealing.

    Shape the porcelain base starting from the clay.

    The skilled craftsman blows the porcelain glaze onto the dial using his mouth.

    However, this romantic process also results in a very low success rate for pinewood-fired porcelain, especially in the production of porcelain watch dials.

    Firstly, for the precision required by watch movements, the thickness of the dial must be less than 1 millimeter, with a tolerance of less than 0.02 millimeters. For stone and metal, this is relatively easy to achieve because metal can be extended, and stone and wood can be polished to meet the requirements through post-processing.

    Only flawless porcelain pieces can be kept.

    However, although porcelain originates from soft clay, once it is given a soul by fire, it cannot be further processed from the moment it is formed. All we can do is select.

    Additionally, for porcelain watch dials with a diameter of 30 to 40 millimeters, minor details or small blemishes that are not noticeable on larger items are unacceptable on the dial. Even if a tiny speck of dust settles on the surface, it must be discarded. 

    • It can be seen that, in the sunlight, the kiln (the room for firing porcelain) is filled with hazardous (fine dust).

    As you can imagine, the romantic feel-driven production process and the primitive, dust-and-fire-filled production environment, combined with such stringent selection criteria, result in the remaining porcelain pieces being truly one in a hundred. Out of a kiln fired with 1,000 kilograms of pinewood, producing several thousand pieces, only a few dozen meet the standards, highlighting the difficulty and preciousness of the production process.

    This is precisely why, although we cannot exhaustively cover all the porcelain watches on the market, we can responsibly say that throughout the history of watches, even including those rare pieces that appear at auctions, genuine porcelain dial watches are still very few and far between.