Vacheron Constantin, the worlds eldest continuously operating watchmaking company has gone back to its’ early years and chose a theme to their new collection from late 18th – early 19th century.
In 1755 the same year, when the first apprenticeship contract signed by Jean-Marc Vacheron basically founded the watchmaking manufacture, the first steam engine got installed in America to pump water from a mine. The next one hundred years brought tremendous inventions in all fields of life and is referred to as Industrial Revolution. Horlogerie had also gone through great developments; nothing proves it better than the first complicated timepieces by Vacheron Constantin from around 1790, or the jumping-hours watch from 1824. Steam engine and of course railways stretching all over Europe and North-America have become the real hallmarks of the period. Their architectures and structures served as muse for Vacheron Constantin when designing their novelties in 2014.
Métiers d’Art collection
Vacheron Constantin invites us on an imaginary journey to a 19th century European railway station. Several elements of the Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées evoke this motif: the dials are reminiscent of the large railway station clocks, the splendid mechanical work and the engraving evoke the large glass domed roofs of historical railway stations, supported by Gothic-inspired ribbed vaults.
The timepiece houses the first openworked version of an iconic in-house movement, the hand-wound Calibre 4400. It took a lot of working hours to achieve the perfect balance between aesthetic appeal, optimal functionality and preciseness. The white gold models are available in four different versions: black, gray or blue enamelled ring around the dial behind the roman numerals, and a the fourth version with the black enamelled ring, but this time with baguette cut diamonds around the bezel.
The imaginary trains speed to far-away lands, as the Métiers d’Arts Fabuleux Ornements collection is inspired by Ottoman architecture, Chinese embroidery, Indian manuscripts and French lacework.
Artisans of the Manufacture, including master-watchmakers as well as engravers, enamellers, guillocheurs, jewellers and gem setters worked on these artistic limited edition pieces (20 pieces are available of each model; « N°X/20 » is engraved on the back of each timepiece).
The French lace motifs were created by the artisans using guilloche and translucent Grand Feu enamelling techniques. The Chinese pattern is brought to life by hand-engraved stone-cloisonné (pink opal), glyptic of ruby, garnet and cuprite. The mother-of-pearl under an openworked 18K gold plate, hand-chamfered and applied half-pearls introduce the motifs of the Ottoman architecture. The Indian manuscript timepiece is implemented with Grand Feu champlevé enamelling and hand-engraving. All four watches are completed with openworked and engraved calibre creating a nice unity with the colourful, extremely detailed artistic motifs of the dial.
The classic and timeless Patrimony collection has a new edition: the pink gold Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Calibre 1731 with brown alligator straps, and an elegant small seconds sub-dial at 8 o’clock on its dial. In the 18th century the function of the minute repeater was to give the wearer a sense of the time using sound in the dark. With the spread of electric lighting nowadays this complication is more a testament of the watchmaker’s technical expertise. The brand has a tradition of creating ultra thin striking mechanisms spanning over 200 years. This model hides the thinnest minute repeater movement in the world being a mere 3.9 mm thick (the watch itself is 8.09 mm) and has 65-hour power reserve.
This year, Vacheron placed openworked movements at the forefront. The platinum Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day tourbillon is also such a timepiece. The specialty of the Calibre 2260 is that it combines a tourbillon with a 14-day power reserve achieved by using four barrels. The engraved motifs further strengthen the three-dimensional construction of the calibre.
Every watch lover immediately thinks of Vacheron Constantin when seeing the Malte collection. The successful tonneau shaped series is expanded with new pieces each year. Ladies can select white and pink gold versions with diamond-set bezel or even a full diamond paved dial.
Malte Tourbillon Openworked, the white gold version with black alligator straps has a more masculine look and it features the new Calibre 2790 SQ, the design of which took over 500 hours. Its’ 65-day energy reserve also powers a date and power-reserve display, the tourbillon carriage at 6 o’clock spins over a Maltese Cross. Just as in the other openworked timepieces, both sides of the movement are decorated with extremely fine hand-engraving, to emphasise the three-dimensionality. The internal zone of the dial is sapphire glass, with engraved and inked indications, while the external zone has an opaline slate-coloured metal ring, painted minute-track and metal applied hour-markers.
The Sound of Time
Vacheron Constantin prepared with a historic exhibition at SIHH 2014, which included selected timepieces from their exceptional thin and striking mechanisms.
Photo credits: Vacheron Constantin, Loupiosity.com.
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