Mother-of-Pearl (MOP) dials are something we don’t see a lot of these days. It’s generally limited to women’s watches, though we’ve seen a few men’s models that do use it to rather nice effect (you can see some examples here). Following the theme we started last week (link), we’ll cover the topic of how these dials are made.
Not surprisingly, this is not an easy substance to work with – especially when you consider that they’re machined into layers that are only about 0.2mm thick. Just think about how easily a full shell on the beach can break – and then imagine working with something in that material that’s a good bit thinner!
In this process, it all starts with shell selection. The top-quality ones generally have an “extra white” hue, and come from Australia; shells from other parts of the world generally end up being used for lesser-quality dials. One the selection is done, the shells are crushed (quite carefully, I imagine) into that 0.2mm thickness, from which the dial blanks are then cut out.
Once that blank is made, the dial can go in all manner of directions – all hand-crafted. The artisan may engrave patterns into the dial (on the front or back), enhance the color with paint or lacquer, or work cutouts into the dial for the design. Polishing also plays an important role, as it brings out that opalescent quality we associate with the material.
For more on this topic, head on over to this article at ATimelyPerspective.