Joshua Shapiro grew up in a family of trained machinists and started working with his bare hands at a very young age. Even so, he pursued a traditional education route and eventually became an educator (read: school principal), but that all eventually changed when he became interested and picked up watchmaking along the way. Today, Joshua is famously known as a self-taught guillocheur who conceived an engine-turned motif of his own in 2013. In 2016, Joshua started to create engine-turned watch dials and became an apprentice to master clock and watchmaker David Walter. Fast forward to 2018, he proceeded to launch his own eponymous brand - J.N. Shapiro. His debut collection was the Infinity Series, named after the “Infinity Weave”- a proprietary guilloché pattern that he invented, which also serves as the foundation of the piece offered here today.
In the past, we've had a couple of exceptionally rare J.N. Shapiro pieces featured on our site. However, what we have to showcase today is even more exceptional – a one-of-a-kind pièce unique from the Infinity series. Crafted from exquisite 18-carat rose gold, this example boasts a 40mm x 9.75mm case that showcases some of the most intricate engraving work I've ever come across on a watch.
This extraordinary creation was commissioned by its original owner and showcases the remarkable engraving skills of Artur Akmaev, a highly skilled watchmaker and engraver. The engravings on this watch weave a captivating narrative from Lithuanian folklore, specifically centered around Eglé, the Queen of Grass Snakes. Even the caseback is bespoke and meticulously engraved, featuring an emblem of a crowned serpent that complements the overall theme. This level of meticulous attention to detail extends to the custom-engraved buckle as well.
The base of the dial is crafted from ruthenium, and hosts, what I would say, one of the main highlights of this piece – J.N. Shapiro’s intricate engine-turned guilloché in three different forms. The periphery of the dial features a barleycorn motif whilst the minute track ring just above the Arabic numerals features a ratchet pattern and the basketweave in the middle section. Joshua had also created his very own pattern he calls the “Infinity weave” as seen within the small-seconds counter at 6 o ‘clock, which he claims is a “basketweave inside of a basketweave” and was inspired after reading George Daniels’ book “Watchmaking”. As far as finishing is concerned, the guilloché on this dial is exceedingly impressive and definitely on par with some of the best the watch industry offers.
In addition to the above, this pièce unique also houses distinctively shaped hour, minute, and sub-second hands. The thermally blued hour and minute hands both have Breguet-style skeletonized tips, and the second hand has an infinity symbol as its counterweight. A very appropriate choice, if you ask me.
Powering the watch from within is a well-known movement produced in Germany – the manually-wound, UWD Cal. 33.1, a now-discontinued calibre produced by Uhren-Werke-Dresden which is a sister company of Lang & Heyne. It should also be mentioned that all Shapiro timepieces that exist today will be the only ones that will ever house this movement as they have stopped selling these.
From an aesthetic perspective, the case's engraving is simply stunning, especially when observed up close. The way light dances and interacts with the case's engraved grooves and ridges offers a truly distinctive visual treat. What's more, it exudes a sense of ancient grandeur, reminiscent of the ancient tapestries and murals that adorned stone and precious metals thousands of years ago, recounting age-old myths and legends.
Collectors and enthusiasts are well aware of the rarity and elusive nature of J.N. Shapiro pieces, making the pièce unique we have here even more so extraordinary. When worn on the wrist, it offers a wonderful fusion of various layers of finishing, color, and intricate details, delivering an engaging sensory experience both visually and through touch.