The story of Viennatime and Munichtime started in Austria in 2003, precisely in Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier. Back then, German fine-watch enthusiasts had to travel to Vienna to attend such a dedicated event for watchmaking – Viennatime’s success has resulted in the establishment of Munichtime five years later. Both events have become highly sought after in the region. Viennatime moved later to the Museum for Applied Arts, and this year to an exclusive venue, the Park Hyatt Vienna.
If you follow us, you must have noticed our love for nice places, architecture and scenes. In fact, what sweeps me off my feet is when historic buildings are utilized cleverly with a new purpose and in a contemporary manner. Just think of Bovet’s Château de Môtiers where a dust-free and tempered watchmaking workshop was established within the old walls. You can find plenty of these also in Vienna’s central district, the Innere Stadt.
Innere Stadt, or District 1, is the core of Vienna, it is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This is the city’soldest district, framed by the Leopoldstadt, Landstraße, Wieden, Neubau and Josefstadt districts. In the 12th century, the ruling Babenberg dynasty built its castle on what is today’s Vienna’s oldest square, the Am Hof. You can find many interesting points around this area. The famous Kirche am Hof was built between 1386 and 1403 by the Carmelite Order. Although it has a baroque facade it was originally a Gothic church. The “Apotheke zum weissen Engel” (Pharmacy to the White Angel) is a Jugendstil construction by Oskar Laske, with a mosaic depicting winged women collecting the elixir of life. And of course you have fine art museums, the Museum of Natural History or the Spanish Riding School, within walking distance. The same square is where the Park Hyatt Vienna stands with pride.
When an event takes place in such a venue, it gets a special scent and flavor. The Park Hyatt Vienna hotel building was the former headquarters of the Lower Austrian Escompte Bank, which had a pioneering role in Austria’s financial life. The hotel has inherited the banking theme – for instance, if you feel like paying homage to culinary delights The Bank restaurant will welcome you in the historical cashier hall of the institute. Would you like to swim after a long day? – enjoy the pool occupying the former vault.
During Viennatime 2014 the Grand Salon embraced the traditional fine-watchmaking companies such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, IWC, Cartier or Piaget. Breitling had a dedicated lounge, while smaller manufactures and niche brands exhibited in the boardrooms.
The Viennatime always has an interesting challenge. . As it is held at the end of the year, the majority of “haute horlogerie” fans have already had the chance to see the novelties in person since their introduction at the traditional January events. However an exclusive exhibition lends an opportunity for making more personal contact with buyers, or showcasing the savoir faire, exceptional crafting skills of the different workshops. As at Vacheron Constantin, we could talk with a master watchmaker and at the Jaeger-LeCoultre, a master engraver from the Vallée du Joux manufacture allowed a glimpse into his work.
This year the “Grande Maison of the Vallée de Joux” placed great emphasis on the “180 skills under the same roof” campaign. Many events were showcasing their expertise and heritage in gem-setting, enamelling, engraving and more.
In Vienna we could find out more about engraving via the customization of the Reverso watches. In previous ages engraving played an important role in reproduction and printing techniques too, nowadays the main goal is adornment and the preservation of artisan traditions. Engraving is also used together with other decoration methods such as lacquering or enameling, so the various artisans sit practically side-by-side in the manufacture and learn from each other’s techniques. Many methods are further developed and perfected in cooperation.
Engravers use a hardened steel tool called a burin, or graver, to cut the design into the surface. To achieve the various shapes, depths and structures they use tools of different sizes and geometry. The sharpness of the tool and the shape of their profile is very important during the process. The graver has a “face” (top) and a “belly” or “heel” (bottom) surfaces, the intersection of which form a point that cuts the metal. The geometries of these determine the shape it cuts as well as the hardness of the metal it can be used with. The face of the tool is ground to a slope depending on the material being cut; the finer the slope, the more delicate the tool.
The technique is far from simple, the correct handling of the tools, balancing the hand, exerting the right amount of pressure and following the process under a microscope pose a tough challenge to the untrained eye.
After Vacheron Constantin’s heritage pieces at the Voyage at Ornaments exhibition let’s now look at a few movements. One of the main goals of the Maison is ensuring their independence. As we also learned from Christian Selmoni (Creative Director of Vacheron Constantin) last year, about the 80% of the movements were manufactured in-house and this number is growing. Vacheron Constantin has committed to the Geneva hallmark, thus they place great emphasis on complying with the new standards of the Poinçon de Genève.
The company is known for high complications, these calibres have a separate workshop where only those watchmakers are allowed to work who have over 15 years of experience in the field of fine watchmaking. These experts work with up to 1,200 different tools on a complicated movement and in many cases create even the tools themselves. The artistic decoration of the movements is a separate area of expertise; the Maison holds a unique, 18-month in-house course for the engravers.
Stroll in the hall
Photo credits: Loupiosity.com.
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