Saturday, April 11, 2015

Frères Rochat “Arche Noire” Singing Bird

The Singing Bird “Arche Noire” pays tribute to the Islamic arts, which excelled in glass and metalwork until the 19th century.

In the Islamic tradition, mathematics inspired the shape of the case: a straight slab, the four sides of which represent power, permanence, achievement and justice. It gives off an impression of strength and majesty, softened by curved and bevelled edges as well as by the rounded angles that recall arabesques. The base of the case is in solid gold, an unchanging metal symbolising a promise or an eternal commitment. Because it is so rare and precious, the “Arche Noire” Singing Bird hides at the bottom of its nest concealed beneath a gold cover, gem set with a sophistication that pays tribute to the splendour of eastern courts: like the noonday sun, it shines with the magnificent sparkle of nearly thousand round diamonds.

You sense that at the heart of this unique work of horological art hides an incredibly complicated mechanism; but it reveals its extreme beauty through glass. At the four cardinal points, six Persian arches join their points to replace the traditional columns. Made of gold and delicately set with black spinel baguettes, they impart a subtle gleam to the whole work and make up four mysterious niches within which shines a sunburst of round spinels. The goldsmith’s work is of exquisite refinement, enhanced by the four finely engraved and gem set domes hiding the screws that hold the piece together.
The “Arche Noire” is a masterpiece that confirms once and for all that only the most talented craftsmen and artisans are invited to serve the prince.

For more than 200 years, the Frères Rochat Singing Birds have ranked among the most complex, the most precious and the most refined works of horological art. To achieve this level of perfection, Frères Rochat has always worked with the most talented craftsmen, who are alone capable of such exploits. The unique “Arche Noire” Singing Bird is a perfect example.

The cover, in 18-carat gold, is set with nearly thousand white round diamonds. The nest, fashioned in a thin plate of 18-carat gold, is cleverly openworked and patiently engraved in a “Fleurisanne” motif. The two-tone bird, which is perfectly smooth to the touch, combines the refinement of white gold with the low weight of titanium. Its eyes are set with round diamonds of great clarity. It sings three tunes — two bird songs and an extract from Mozart’s 40th symphony — demonstrating its mastery of the 12 semitones of its vocal range.

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