The art of enamelling, as ancient almost as human civilisation, retains a timeless lustre. Its hypnotic, precious effect is largely credited to a metier that challenges resources, human patience and imagination. Considered as one of the riskiest of the high arts, enamelling involves tempering the tempestuous fire of ovens in baking the dials, and understanding the delicate nature of powdered glass which constitute enamel.

In the latest of Breguet's boutique-exclusive timepieces, Les Exclusifs de Breguet (RM171,000), pearlescent enamel becomes the canvas for artistic triumph. Upon this serene white background, Breguet's artists hand paint 12 distinct oriental vistas, each of which is marked by a single animal from the Chinese zodiac. Each 33.5mm-diameter white gold case is embellished with 86 diamonds on the bezel and lugs.