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Sunday, January 10, 2010


Kees Engelbarts Mokume Gane Dragon Watches


One of European watch making's greatest artists is Kees Engelbarts (Dutch born) who has mastered the technique of Mokume Gane - a traditional Japanese artistic technique that literally means wood grain metal. The technique utilizes an incredible level of effort and hand engraving to achieve such pictured results. You see metals such as platinum, gold, and silver, as well as chemically colored steel used together in the creation of his mostly piece unique works.


As the level of effort in each of these watches is so high, Kees Engelbarts only makes a few pieces each year. Earlier in his career Engelbarts was called upon to work on watches for other brands - decorating movements, and creating his beautiful dials. He still does work for a limited number of brands, but most of his efforts are involved in his own brand, as well as the related Cornelius & Cie watch brand whose Chronosome watch is based on Kees Engelbarts flagship creation (pictured at the top) "The Dragon Gate Legend" watch. A few notable brands that have had piece unique timepieces with Kees Engelbarts iconic efforts are Harry Winston and Peter Speake-Marin.

Kees Engelbarts prefers to include NOS (new old stock) watch movements in his timepieces. A. Schild movements are popularly found in his creations. Movements from the 50s, 60s, and 70s are acquired, highly finished and decorated in his watches. Sometimes he uses even older movements such as the 1935 A. Schild Calibre AS 690 movement found in The Dragon Gate Legend watch. Each of his watches have sapphire crystal caseback that provide views to his beautifully hand engraved movement work.


One of Kees Engelbarts preferred subjects are dragons. Many of his watches and engraving work display the fascinating mythical beasts that most always appear proper on a watch dial. Multifaceted in his approach, you will find Dragons images in both Oriental and European styles. Such variety is a clear message that Kees Engelbarts is interested in representing the iconic beast as it has been captured in many different cultures. Note that the pictured watches are but some of his many dragon-themed creations. He also enjoys engraving other powerful mythical or real beasts such as unicorns, horses, and tigers.

For example, The Dragon Gate Legend watch depicts a Chinese style Dragon and a legend where a carp fish turns into a dragon through a tough swim upstream. The allegorical story is a message about the necessity for drive and effort in life. The large Ref. 0667 piece unique watch features a 49mm wide 18k rose gold case, movement with 8 days of power reserve, and a solid gold dial with silver as part of the special engraving work. Kees Engelbarts used uncommon cayman alligator leather for the strap.



Other watches in the Kees Engelbarts family share similar design aesthetics and comparable levels of detail and decoration. Both manually wound and automatic movements are employed by Kees Engelbarts, who also provides all the after service work on the watches. Given the extremely complex efforts and time involved in the luxury watches - as well as the fact that most of his pieces are one-of-kind watches, prices are predictably high (and via request only). Kees Engelbarts also performs custom work for those who have specific desires, as well as the means to afford them. For most people, Kees Engelbarts watches remain untouchable pieces of art that epitomize a beautiful yet masculine engraving and decorative design aesthetic.

By Ariel Adams

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