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The Story of an Artisan Enameller Vanessa Lecci and the Restoration of a Watch

19 March 2022
The Story of an Artisan Enameller Vanessa Lecci and the Restoration of a Watch

A volleyball champion Vanessa Lecci is now one of the few enamel artisans in the world, and she crated her latest enamel work in a special Parmigiani watch.

The legendary watchmaker Michel Parmigiani’s 71st birthday celebrated on December 2, 2021. Indeed, the founder Michel Parmigiani’s birthday was also important for the brand because they created a special pocket watch named La Rose Carrée in the honor of 25th anniversary of the manufacture. And the interesting thing is that the pocket watch houses a previously used caliber, which means this new piece is a vintage one in terms of movement.

The Story of an Artisan Enameller Vanessa Lecci and the Restoration of a Watch
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Parmigiani Fleurier restored an old pocket watch and crafted in collaboration with Vanessa Lecci.

At the heart of the watch there is a Grande Sonnerie high-end minute repeater movement (displays every hour and quarter hours with the current time) manufactured by the master of complications, Louis-Elisée Piguet, in the late 19th century and purchased by Michel Parmigiani at the end of the 20th century.

The Story of an Artisan Enameller Vanessa Lecci and the Restoration of a Watch

This unique pocket watch mechanism, which has been saved in a drawer for 2022, has covered with a new case after a magnificent restoration. The front and back covers were embroidered with a motif called “rose carrée” (square rose) by artisan Eddy Jaquet. This motif is inspired by the aesthetic form the rose petals take as they begin to fade. The design is based on the golden ratio seen in some plants and shellfish such as the nautilus, a spiral suggesting aesthetic perfection. The extraordinarily beautiful enamel work on the engraving highlights Micehl Parmigiani’s favorite blue color, both with its depth and brilliance. And it is engraved by Vanessa Lecci and she is one of the few “grand feu” craftsmen in the world. Known as “grand feu”, which means “great fire” in French, this technique consists of numerous irreversible firing and delicate cooking processes that require superior skill and precision at a temperature ranging from 780 to 810 °C in a special oven.

The Story of an Artisan Enameller Vanessa Lecci and the Restoration of a Watch
In the enameling process, blue is used because it is the favorite color of the legendary watchmaker Michel Parmigiani.

Indeed, in order to make this watch; a restorer, draftsman, a case master, a bevel master, engraving master and enamel master, all of whom are important names in their own fields, were brought together. For me, the most striking name from them is the artisan enameller Vanessa Lecci. The young artisan enameller, Lecci has an interesting life story as a professional volleyball player before she became a master in a small 30 mm diameter area on high-end mechanical watch dials. Vanessa Lecci works in her sun-drenched studio in Peseux, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel, and adorns mechanical watches. Neuchâtel is also the city where Michel Parmigiani born, on the other hand, Lecci was born in Salve, in the Apulia region of southeast Italy, right on the heel of the boot on the map.

The Story of an Artisan Enameller Vanessa Lecci and the Restoration of a Watch
Working in her studio in Peseux, artisan enameller Vanessa Lecci also made enamel watches for Cartier, Girard-Perregaux, Patek Philippe and Hublot before Parmigiani Fleurier.

Vanessa Lecci was playing on the volleyball team (her team is in Italy) while she studied scenography (stage layout) and sculpture (her mother is also a sculptor) at the Academy of Fine Arts after Giannelly Art Institute in Parabita. Later on, she agreed to play professionally in Switzerland, where she was on vacation for a friendly match in Neuchatel. One year later, after graduating from college, she left Italy to join Neuchâtel team, where she played first and eventually coached, and won four titles in the next six years.

When she began to play volleyball professionally, Lecci’s goal was to return to Italy in the future and save money for restoration training in Florence. However, her life’s flow did not continue as she thought because she never lost her enthusiast for fine arts. Lecci decided to study inlay making at the Geneva University of Art and Design (Haute Ecole d’Art et de Design, known as HEAD for short). Then, she quit the sport when she was hired by Cartier to work in the production of a watch collection (Privé). When the project was ended, she continued work with Cartier and directed towards enamel training.  After Cartier, she worked with Girard-Perregaux. A few years later, she was hired by Patek Philippe to work as an enamel artisan. Specializing in the techniques of cloisonné, champlevé and guilloché, Lecci showed her skills on pocket watches, cufflinks, and wall clocks.

The Story of an Artisan Enameller Vanessa Lecci and the Restoration of a Watch

After establishing his own studio, she created a Classic Fusion Enamel Britto in which Brazilian pop-art artist Romero Britto renders works in miniature scales for Hublot, created “Les Carpes De Sandoz” for Parmigiani Fleurier and made Ciel de Corée 1.500 gold dust limited pieces to one gray and two blue dials for Vacheron Constantin. Her last work was La Rose Carrée for Parmigiani Fleurier.

Vanessa Lecci says, “Italy shaped me, but Switzerland improved me.”