A historic engraving technique is being given a new lease of life to mark the manufactory’s anniversary on 11 November 2021.
Finished using the eponymous tremblage engraving technique, the TREMBLAGE anniversary model elegantly combines vintage style with the finest mechanics. The timepiece is available in rose gold and stainless steel
TREMBLAGE on film – discover the details of the TREMBLAGE in close-up
An up-close look at an engraver’s workbench is fascinating. To decorate metal, he uses a variety of different tools and burins. Cutting or carving motifs or patterns into metal surfaces requires an expert hand and the engraver makes it appear effortless.
Decorating surfaces by means of engraving is an ancient art that has been cultivated for several thousand years. It is a skill that was also practised by ancient civilisations. The traditional technique has been continuously refined over the centuries and also gave rise to the special form of tremblage.
Moritz Grossmann TREMBLAGE in rose gold and stainless steel
Authors Paul Hanff and Robert Neubert refer to it as “Tambulieren” in their book “Anleitung zur Erlernung der Gravierkunst” (Instructions for learning the art of engraving) – a book that is more than one hundred years old. This term, along with “Tramblieren” and “Trambulieren”, was also common in the past (cf. Anleitung zur Gravierkunst – Fachbibliothek des Edelmetallgewerbes – P. Hanff, R. Neubert; Leipzig, 1921).
According to Paul Hanff and Robert Neubert, the engraver had to set one corner of the burin into the metal and constantly move it “back and forth, from right to left, from one corner to the other”. It was this movement that gave the technique its name – the French word “tremblant” simply means “to tremble”. A modern art encyclopaedia describes tremblage as “letting the engraving tremble”.
Depending on the movement, the tremblage stroke could be executed finely or coarsely, the historical booklet by Paul Haff and Robert Neubert tells us. But, the authors caution: “It takes a great deal of practice to be able to execute them uniformly.”
For it is only uniformity that creates the desired look – an impressive, rough and matt surface, as can be admired on the dial of Moritz Grossmann’s anniversary watch. Fashioned from German silver, the new model was finished by hand using a range of burins – entirely in keeping with a tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation.
Hand engraving in German silver: fascinating charm
Material and surface form a fascinating liaison. German silver is an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc, among others, which is frequently used in historical watches and movements. Thanks to the surface treatment, this alloy produces a silver-like hue with an aesthetic vintage look. The three-dimensional appearance of the dial underscores the effect: The numerals of the hours and circular small seconds rise above the surface, as does the historic “M. Grossmann” logo from 1875, which goes back to Moritz Grossmann, the famous watchmaking pioneer who gave his name to the Glasshütte manufactory.
These are not mounted appliqués. On the contrary, the base of the dial has been cut out and removed so that the logo, numerals and seconds circle remain. A task that also requires meticulous care to create clean edges. The top of the numerals, logo and seconds circle were also given a flat polish finish.
Only then did the dial undergo the painstaking tremblage process in Glashütte, a method that takes numerous hours. A single dial can take an engraver several days to complete. The whole is complemented by the meticulous craftsmanship of the finishers.
The result is exquisite – a uniquely crafted work of art with an even, fine grain that softens the effect of incident light and lends a wonderfully matt appearance to the tremblage surface. The lavishly flat polished raised elements create a lustrous contrast.
Innovation in the tradition of Moritz Grossmann
Such elaborate work – as well as the revival of the historic technique – is in keeping with Moritz Grossmann’s philosophy. The manufactory has been attracting attention with its exquisite movements and sophisticated features ever since it was re-founded 13 years ago. The anniversary watch continues this trend and boasts a number of unique details. For example, handcrafted hands annealed to a brown-violet hue using traditional temperature treatment circle above the dial in the rose gold version and blued steel hands in the stainless steel model.
Christine Hutter, founder and CEO of the young manufacture, states: “The TREMBLAGE is yet another outstanding innovation in our BENU Heritage collection line. We have revived the historic engraving technique of tremblage in our anniversary model and are delighted to have an engraver with exceptionally long experience and an artistic sensibility to craft a unique work of art from each of our dials. Once again, we are following our brand mission statement of “Schönstes deutsches Handwerk”, which makes each of our watches a rarity.”
The finest mechanics from the manufactory
The finest mechanics are at work beneath the dial. Turning the TREMBLAGE model over reveals the manually wound calibre 100.1 through the glass case back. Designed entirely in the spirit of the old master, this movement also reflects his dedication to innovation and progress. The calibre incorporates innovative new developments from the manufactory, such as a newly configured oscillator. Optimised for artisanal manufacturing techniques, the ingenious design of the Grossmann balance improves the adjustability of inertia and achieves high kinetic energy combined with minimised air resistance and the smallest possible mass.
The sophisticated design of the pillar movement, which, like the dial, is made of untreated German silver, is mesmerising, as is the elaborate hand finishing of all components. The German silver train bridge was endowed with a granular surface using an elaborate artisan process, resulting in a smooth finish.
The all-round edges are bevelled by hand. Their polished surfaces lend them a certain, lustrous appeal. Moritz Grossmann’s signature is hand-engraved in a historic cursive script – a homage to the master’s vintage pocket watches. The individual movement number is similarly engraved here in a cursive script.
Both the balance and escape-wheel cock are also hand-engraved with a floral pattern. Traditional finishes have also been applied to other surfaces. The ratchet wheel, for example, boasts three-band snailing. White sapphires as bearings, held by gold chatons and fastened by brown-violet screws, contribute to the unique look of the watch.
Case in rose gold or stainless steel
A 750/000 rose gold case, worn with a dark brown bracelet made of hand-stitched alligator leather, provides a fitting accompaniment for the elaborate manufactory movement of the anniversary model. The TREMBLAGE is also optionally available with a stainless steel case and a matching dark blue alligator strap.
The TREMBLAGE in the online boutique:
The new model and the entire collection are now available in the new Moritz Grossmann Online Boutique.