The Elemental Project: Artful Folding Knives by Emmanuel Esposito

News • 11 Nov 2022

The Elemental Project: Artful Folding Knives by Emmanuel Esposito

Fine knives meet haute horlogerie techniques. Emmanuel Esposito and The Hour Glass present The Elemental Project, an exclusive set of folding knives created by knifemaker Emmanuel Esposito for The Hour Glass.



Handcrafted in Italy, Emmanuel Esposito’s creations are widely regarded by enthusiasts and collectors of fine knives as highly collectible items. The exceptional care and finesse in craftsmanship manifest in the immaculate details in the decoration and finishing. A unique patented folding mechanism ensures the blade run with maximum precision and smoothness, that can be locked in open or closed positions.

“Emmanuel is a rare talent who has created a unique signature in his metier of art knives. His technical brilliance is exemplified in the object’s unique locking mechanism and in his desire to achieve exceptional hand-finishing. Paired with the intricate hand-set mosaic inlays, his workmanship marks a distinctive and identifiable style. The Elemental Project is a fantastic showcase of the care, detail and finesse from the artisan that transform an object into art.”—Michael Tay, Group Managing Director of The Hour Glass.

The Formation of a Distinct Style

During the early years of his career, Emmanuel was shown an amazing watch collection that opened his eyes to the craftsmanship of haute horlogerie. This inspired him to incorporate the same level of finishing and details in his own work.

My passion for fine knives was an evolution. Initially, I made fixed blades but soon moved on to integral and then to folding knives. In folders, I found that I could really explore my interest in combining intricate mechanics with aesthetic design.” — Emmanuel Esposito



Born in 1983 near Torino, Italy, Emmanuel Esposito spent much of his childhood in his family’s machine shop. His grandfather was a self-taught machinist who built equipment like milling machines and lathes from scratch after WWII. These skills of working with one’s hands were passed on to Emmanuel.

Combining the tradition and innovative spirit he developed since his childhood in the machine shop with a taste for new materials and exploring new territories, Emmanuel Esposito has developed his own style. Emmanuel started making his own knives from the age of 15, taking the skills he learned from his grandfather and using them to teach himself the art of knifemaking. He became a full-time knifemaker in 2010. Emmanuel still works from the workshop inherited from his grandfather, which he has renovated, located on the family’s farm.

“This combination of old and new, along with decorative techniques and mechanisms has led to the distinctive look of my work.” — Emmanuel Esposito

Today, the knifemaker distinguishes himself with his unique associations of carbon fibre or exotic alloys with traditional materials, such as gold or mother-of-pearl. True to his own style, Esposito has focussed on creating his own pieces, choosing to collaborate with very few independent partners.

Genesis of the Elemental Project for The Hour Glass


The prototype piece featuring mother-of-pearl inlay


A few months after Emmanuel Esposito was presented to the watch industry at Baselworld 2019 at Les Ateliers, he met with Michael Tay, Group Managing Director of The Hour Glass. Sharing a common interest in both fine knives and haute horology, the unconventional collaboration on special project with The Hour Glass presented a unique opportunity to showcase this niche art.

“I met Michael Tay at the end of 2019. Our common interest in art knives and fine watches sparked the idea that led to the beginning of the partnership with The Hour Glass and the creation of The Elemental Project.” — Emmanuel Esposito

Premium quality mother-of-pearl was the perfect choice for the inlays, which highlights the bold design of this new model and adds a classic touch to a very modern aesthetic.

A Patented Mechanism, the Double C-Lock

The Elemental Art Folding Knife houses a unique locking mechanism, the Double C-Lock, which Emmanuel patented in 2010. The blade locks in both the open and closed positions, and the rotation of the blade runs on an axial ceramic ball bearing, which ensures maximum precision and smoothness of the mechanism.


The patented C-Lock mechanism


When the blade is closed and locked, simply applying a gentle pressure on both sides of the C-Lock disengages an internal spring pin which releases the blade from the handle so it can be manually opened. The same pressure applied to the C-Lock when the blade is in the open position will release the mechanism and allow the knife to be closed. The engaging click indicates that the Elemental’s sharp edge is secure inside the handle.

Emmanuel Esposito’s Signature Inlays

One of the original features of Emmanuel’s work is a distinctive version of the mosaic inlay. Using hundreds of tiny pieces of mother-of-pearl, Emmanuel hand-sorts and arranges each piece according to how it reflects the light. The result is a chromatic inlay that oscillates between light and dark with movement.


The Elemental 01


The Elemental 01 knife for The Hour Glass features very complex black lip pearl mosaic inlays with the alternating light technique, which Emmanuel developed with the goal of adding a three-dimensional illusion to an incredibly smooth surface.


The Elemental 02


The Elemental 02 knife for The Hour Glass houses 24k gold Mokume-gane inlays. This material is made with very ancient Japanese technique, wherein three different patina shades of copper join with the warm color of the gold. The encasing of the inlays consists of a titanium liner and black G10 which adds a highlighting visual dark outline.


The Elemental 03


The Elemental 03 knife for The Hour Glass displays intricate panels of vintage black Bakelite and black lip pearl. Emmanuel had sorted over a hundred tiny pieces of pearl, aligning each to the same light direction. These pieces were then placed alternately with the Bakelite to create shimmering inlays.

Fine Finishing


The exceptional hand finishing on the Elemental Project


Much of the finishing work, like the anglage, straight graining and black polishing, were inspired by Emmanuel’s interest in the construction of mechanical watches. The scrupulous attention to detail is reflected in each crisp line that surrounds every element of the knife. The final touch is the indexed screws housed in 18K gold washers. A sophisticated linear graining finish shows the subtle variations between the shades of grey in the types of steel used in the knife’s construction.

The Elemental Project, An Exclusive Edition for The Hour Glass


The black lacquer solid wood presentation box for the Elemental Project


The Elemental Project is available exclusively from The Hour Glass. Each Elemental knife is presented in a custom display box made of solid wood. The exterior of the box is coated with more than 30 layers of lacquer to ensure the perfect finish. The inside of the box is custom-designed and fitted with the finest materials, allowing the knife to be displayed in its open state, and protects the knife when the box is closed.


This exclusive edition is marked by the presence of the logos of both Emmanuel Esposito and The Hour Glass inside the presentation box. The logos, crafted from the same stainless steel, have matching inlays with the Elemental knife.

Discover these exceptional handcrafted knives at Malmaison by The Hour Glass, Singapore.

The Hour Glass is proud to be the exclusive retailer for Emmanuel Esposito fine knives in Asia Pacific.

Tags: artisanal emmanuel esposito

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