The long history of Vacheron Constantin, unique in watchmaking records, eloquently testifies to the exceptional wealth of the decorative arts as applied to watches. Whether for the internal movement parts or the external ornamentation of the timepiece, hand polishing and bevelling, engine-turning, engraving and especially enamelling are still part of the standards established and upheld by Vacheron Constantin.
The Métiers d’Art watch provides a sparkling demonstration of these arts by expressing, through sets of four watches, the four seasons that have given their unique cadence for the past 250 years to the passion binding Vacheron Constantin to a range of rare and precious forms skills.
Of all the high-end watch brands, Vacheron Constantin is probably the one that has consistently combined aesthetic expression with sophisticated mechanical techniques. Throughout its 250 years of existence, more than any other, the brand carrying the Maltese cross has constantly cooperated with the finest artisans of the time in order to offer the very best in the field of finishing and decoration.
It is therefore hardly surprising that for its quarter of a millennium, Vacheron Constantin should dedicate a model to the decorative arts with which it has always cultivated such a close relationship. It is these traditional and unique fields of skill that have forged its reputation, that it has contributed to preserving and at times ensuring their survival when threatened with extinction amid an age of all-conquering industrialisation and unbridled mechanisation.
TRIBUTE TO THE ART OF WATCHMAKING
The Métiers d’Art model first and foremost pays tribute to technical and mechanical mastery, thanks to the integration within its case of the new mechanical self-winding Vacheron Constantin movement. In keeping with its longstanding tradition enriched by a wide variety of original displays, Vacheron Constantin is perpetuating the watchmaking art by offering a hand-free manner of reading off time.
This is accomplished by four apertures respectively revealing the hour, the minute, the day and the date. These indications, dragging for the first two and jumping for the latter two, appear through four openings arranged around the central dial motif. Honoured by the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark, the movement beating at 28,800 vph is equipped with an oscillating weight in 22-carat gold that is decorated, as indeed are all components of the mechanism.
Inner beauty is matched by outer beauty. The decorative and precious arts are also wonderfully expressed in this watch: applied to the creation of the 18-carat gold dial, they confer on it the status of an exquisite miniature combining sculpture and gold engraving, jewellery expertise and refined enamelling techniques. At its centre, Apollo’s chariot and his team of four horses, depicted on a raised hand-engraving in 18-carat gold, is delicately applied to the two-part dial decorated in the colours of each of the seasons.
The finest and most meticulous craftsmanship techniques are implemented in this model, associating a base coated with translucent enamel and featuring a gold sun and moon in its lower and upper parts. On either side of the chariot are plant-life motifs painted in accordance with the seasons and delicately applied with a fine brush.
THE SYMBOLISM OF THE SEASONS
The case is crafted in white gold for spring, while summer takes on the warm shades of yellow gold with the sun at its zenith, before pink gold, like the setting sun, expresses the passage to autumn, and platinum finally symbolises the arrival of winter, underscored by an airy brilliant-cut diamond paving reminiscent of snow crystals.
The symbolism of the seasons matches that of the four centuries which have witnessed Vacheron Constantin’s majestic progression from the 18th to the 21st. It pays eloquent homage to the professions exercised within the art of horology and which, spanning a quarter of a millennium, perpetuate a set of ancient hand-craftsmanship techniques that remain as vibrantly alive as ever. The Métiers d’Art watch was produced in a limited edition of 48, meaning 12 collector’s sets comprising four watches each.
Materials:18-carat 750 pink gold (5N), 750 yellow gold (3N), rhodium-plated 750 white gold, 950 platinum
Diameter and thickness: 40mm, 12.10mm
Inter-horn width: 20mm at the strap attachment
Shape and construction: Round, 3 parts, screw-on bezel
Case-back: Secured by screws
Crystals: Sapphire, glareproofed on both faces of the dial side, mounted on a joint
Finishing: Polished case, fine knurling on bezel and case-back “250th anniversary” type soldered lugs
Water resistance: 30 metres
Material used for the dials: 18-carat yellow gold (spring, summer, autumn), 18-carat white gold (winter)
Material used for the appliques: 18-carat gold for the chariot and apertures
Dial description: “Grand Feu” enamelled; combining the miniature, champlevé and translucent techniques
Other points: Winter dial set with 55 brilliant-cut diamonds
Mechanical self-winding Calibre 2460 with Dragging and jumping displays
Indications & functions
Hours by dragging disc
Minutes by dragging disc
Day by semi-jumping disc
Date by semi-jumping disc shown through 4 apertures arranged around the dial
Other technical characteristics:
Energy : Mechanical, self-winding, cal. 2460H205G4
Regulating organs: flat balance-spring, Geneva balance-spring stud
Frequency: 4Hz (28,800 vph)
Power reserve: 43 hours
Jewelling: 27 jewels
Winding stem:2 positions : winding, time-setting
Day adjustment: using a corrector housed along the case
Date adjustment:using a corrector housed along the case
Caging diameter: 25.60mm
Total diameter: 31mm
Total thickness: 6.45mm
Hand-sewn alligator leather with a silky satin finish.large square scales.
Buckle: pin buckle in 18-carat gold or 950 platinum.
Launched in 2005,“Métiers d’Art “was produced a limited edition of 12 collector’s sets, each housing a timepiece to illustrate each season, meaning 48 individually numbered watches.