The Geneva pattern is a translation of French Côtes de Genève, sometimes also referred to as the Geneva stripes or Geneva waves in English. The reason may be first of all due to its unusual and weird name, or maybe this pattern looks so eye-catching on the movement. In either case, the Geneva pattern on the smooth mechanical (or even quartz) movement is so common in watchmaking workshops that people seem to have forgotten that retouching is not just about aesthetics.
Strictly speaking, the Geneva pattern is a kind of scratches. Although systematically, deliberately controlled and carefully crafted, it still cannot change the nature of the scratch. During the processing, the surface of the slat or bridge board made of brass is inevitably pitted, and then after appropriate polishing and sandblasting, and then electroplating gold or rhodium on the brass surface, it will present a characteristic Gray metal texture. The battens or bridges are fixed on a grinder that moves along two axes, and the swirl discs are polished with fine sandpaper to create concentric circles or parallel ripple effects. In order to protect the lettering, a special paste is also required on the letters.
Bvlgari watchmaking workshop engraved with Geneva
In the early 20th century, the Geneva pattern gradually took shape. As the name suggests, this ornamentation originated in Geneva, but it soon became popular in all Swiss watchmaking valleys. The appearance of the Geneva pattern has three main meanings: one is simple automation, and the decoration process can be completed only by sliding along a specific axis; the other is to enhance the beauty of the parts. The meticulous workmanship under perfect lighting makes the Geneva pattern very attractive. . The traditional Swiss watchmaking generally uses the Geneva pattern for the decoration of the splint (usually located on the back of the case, that is, the side of the wrist). With the popularization of sapphire crystal glass, the back design makes the pattern lines clearly visible. The grain is pushed to the forefront of mechanical aesthetics.
The Geneva pattern on the Roger Dubuy tourbillon exudes a charming glow
Generally speaking, it is not unreasonable for watchmaking industry to enhance aesthetic taste. Geneva watchmaking has always been known for its exquisite workmanship and fine decoration. Because of its scratches and rough surfaces that are prone to dust, ripples or stripes have a third significance. The open case design makes this ‘particle trap’ used frequently in the pocket watch era. As the case gradually closed and became more airtight, the Geneva pattern also gained new significance.
The Geneva pattern is mainly used for substrate decoration. The Glashütte PanoInverse series watch is an inverted movement, and at the same time, the beauty of the pattern is displayed in front of our eyes.
In the early stages of the industrialization of the Watchmaking Valley, capturing dust was no longer feasible, and the Geneva pattern was a response to this problem. This finish helps to capture flying particles from the workshop and prevent them from falling on lubricants, movement gems, or pivots. The facts proved clear that they were of great benefit, so watchmakers in Saxony, Germany also adopted them, although they preferred to call it Glashütte.