One of the main reasons I established Total Design Reviews is because of my passion for fine craftsmanship and design in general. As well as being a writer I also hold a degree in Illustration and enjoy creating large artworks. My latest composition is a large Bristlecone Pine tree, which I am painting in muted colours. I favour oil paints and my technique involves multiple fine transparent layers to attain a luminous effect. This involves a certain level of patience because I am fanatical about detail. I would also describe myself as a perfectionist and always try to achieve the best possible results. Ultimately that is why I appreciate traditional skills like engraving, especially in the context of horology. 

Recently, I discovered the talent of Sergej Manaenko who owns an operates an academy called the CM-Gravüre. Art Workshop & School. Originally Sergej trained as a Metallurgist engineer in Russia (where he was born) but now resides in Germany. In 1997 he founded a jewellery company and became captivated by the art of engraving. This inspired him to enrol on a course at the Art Academy in Hanau and pursue this artisan skill on a professional basis. After working for prestigious brands like Glashütte Original, Kudoke Uhren, Schaumburg Watch and Tourby Watches he decided to launch his own business.

Over the last few years, the world of horology has experienced various challenges due to the emergence of the ‘SmartWatch’ revolution. However, many people I know are still fascinated by traditional skills and true craftsmanship. Sergej Manaenko not only practises the art of engraving but also imparts his knowledge to a new generation of enthusiastic students. Sergej describes his own (non-classical) technique as unique and inspired by the sculptural forms of nature. Certainly, this is evident in one of his latest pieces called the ‘Evening Fantasy’.

I write about a lot of watches and am always interested when the opportunity presents itself to review a true unique 1/1 piece. It’s apparent at first glance that the ‘Evening Fantasy’ isn’t a generic mass-produced watch. The meticulously engraved silver dial of this watch is a true labour of love and showcases Sergej Manaenko’s extraordinary skills. I love details like the delicate relief pattern and subtle purple undertones. This entire splendour is encapsulated in a stainless case with a hand-engraved bezel.

At the heart of the watch is a reliable Swiss-made Unitas 6497-1 manual winding movement. This calibre comprises 17-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour. Impressively the mechanism is also fastidiously engraved in gold and rhodium galvanized relief pattern. Functionally the ‘Evening Fantasy’ features hours, minutes and small seconds (displayed on a beautifully engraved flower). As a perfect finishing touch the watch is presented on a handcrafted shark strap.

For more information about Sergej Manaenko and CM-Gravüre.Art Workshop & School follow this link

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