Ancient timekeeper

Updated: 2015-01-13 08:25

By Wang Kaihao(China Daily)

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Ancient timekeeper

Porcelain watch dials are one of the most eye-catching features in Zhang Shuyang's design, which will be shown at this year's Baselworld. [Photo provided to China Daily]

As cloisonne enamel (first used in 15th-century China) dials are common in Western luxury watches, Zhang's concern is that most people who see his porcelain dials for the first time may ask "if they are enamel".

"Cloisonne enamel is only a subcategory in Chinese ceramics. We don't have to strictly follow old rules. Chinese ceramics offer many more possibilities for fine watch dials." For example, famille rose, a genre of porcelain from the 16th century known for its soft but abundant colors, is commonly used in Zhang's watches.

Zhang says that one of his goals as a watchmaker is also to help Jingdezhen break the "glass ceiling" and return to its previous glory.

"Though Jingdezhen is mostly synonymous with ancient porcelain, the Western world tends to neglect its significance today due to the perceived lack of creativity. If we can connect Jingdezhen with the world's top luxury brands, the situation will change."

He has hired more than 40 top artisans from Jingdezhen and other major porcelain hubs in the country to help develop his watch brand. "We also want our modern artistic explanation of traditional Chinese culture to have a final say in value-creation," Zhang says.