The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers department has long been renowned for creating some of the maison’s most impressive timepieces. The department was responsible for having created the Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 and even the technical triumph that was the Reference 57260.
The department’s main task is to walk alongside collectors, helping them to realize their dream Vacheron Constantin timepiece, as a start to end, bespoke service. But the Les Cabinotiers also take time to create unique pieces that showcase the breadth and depth of the maison’s capabilities.
For 2019, the collection that has been created by Les Cabinotiers is the La Musique du Temps: the Music of Time; a clear nod to the running theme that ties all of the watches: a chiming complication.
Explaining the collection, Heritage & Style Director, Mr Christian Selmoni says, “By striking watches, we mean, minute repeaters; simple repeaters and Grande Sonnerie. As part of La Musique du Temps, these are all piece unique creations that showcase our mastery of the minute repeaters and Grande Sonnerie, paired with several of our métiers d’art capabilities.”
With the collection, Vacheron Constantin has also revived their partnership with the famed Abbey Road Studios. “We first worked with Abbey Road Studios back in 2018 for the launch of our Fiftysix collection,” says Selmoni. “This time round, we are working with them in order to make recordings of the chiming watches from the La Musique du Temps collection at the mythical, Studio Number Two. Meaning that every watch from the collection, has been exquisitely recorded by some of the world’s best sound engineers. These recordings will accompany the respective chiming watches along with a joint document of certification from Abbey Road Studios and Vacheron Constantin.”
Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart (ref. 9730C/000R-B493)
It’s difficult to say if any of the creations have been charged to be the hero, or showcase piece. There are several and they are all worthy of the title So, here’s a selection from the collection, starting with the watch we managed to get a hold of first: the Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart.
Within the 45mm 18K 5N pink gold case, we see an 18K gold hand-guilloché sunray-finished blue dial, that’s ever so slightly offset towards the top, creating space room for the minute tourbillon. Turning the watch over we have a sidereal time indication, along with the months and sky chart. The sky chart itself is a sub dial on the back of the watch, which has been made concave creating for a sense of depth on an otherwise two-dimensional indication.
Hand wound calibre 2755 TMRCC; hours, minutes and small seconds on top of tourbillon cage; minute repeater; tourbillon; sidereal time, months and sky chart on the back of the watch; 58-hour power reserve
45mm in 18K 5N pink gold
18K gold hand-guilloché sunray-finished blue dial with 18K white gold applied hours-makers
Blue alligator leather with alligator leather inner shell and 18K white gold polished half Maltese cross-shaped folding clasp
Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Ultra-thin (Ref. 6630C/000R-B662 & 6605C/000R-B661)
Created in a pair, the Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Ultra-thin pieces from the La Musique du Temps collection are exactly that: elegant, ultra-thin executions with a bit of bling for good measure.
At 41mm and 39mm, both pieces feature 18K gold, eggshell white Grand Feu enamel dials with 12 applied ruby hours-markers, totaling 0.42 carats. “This combination of rose gold, of white eggshell enamel for the dial and the red of the rubies is for me absolutely gorgeous,” says Selmoni.
The latter 39mm piece, is also decorated with 102 round-cut diamonds for a total weight of 1.90 carats on the bezel, lugs and crown.
As mentioned earlier, being minute repeaters and as part of the La Musique du Temps, in partnership with Abbey Road Studios, both watches will come with recording of their chimes made in Studio Number Two, with a joint document of certification from Abbey Road Studios and Vacheron Constantin.
Hand wound calibre 4400; hours and minutes; 65-hour power reserve
39mm in 18K 5N pink gold
18K gold dial with cloisonné enamel representing a Caravel; 4 Roman numerals and 8 dots in 18k gold
Alligator leather with alligator leather inner shell with 18K 4N pink gold polished half Maltese cross-shaped buckle
La Caravelle 1950 (ref. 1110C/000R-B612)
The next piece we’re about to look at is not part of the La Musique du Temps collection but a 2019 creation from the Les Cabinotiers department, regardless. And while it’s not a chiming piece it is, sure to strike the right note for those who admire Vacheron Constantin’s case design and métiers d’art excellence.
“Here we have a specialty of Geneva watchmaking from the ‘50s: cloisonné enameling. The La Caravelle 1950 pays tribute to this art form,” says Selmoni. It was later explained by the Vacheron Constantin team that the grande dame of enameling, Anita Porchet herself was involved in creating the La Caravelle 1950.
Quite specifically, the watch is made in direct reference to a 1950 Vacheron Constantin timepiece, the Caravel ref. 4308, an example of which can be found in the maison’s private collection, depicting a caravel ship, sailing across open waters. The deviation on the 2019 piece would be the “vanishing” edges for the enameling on the dial, achieved with a translucent grand feu treatment. Also, the 2019 version does not have the central seconds hand.
There’s a small star that sits right next to the 10 o’clock marker on the dial, which is mean to depict Polaris, the North Star that sailors once depended on to navigate the oceans. The Vacheron Constantin team later shared that the star is, in fact, an object called a paillon (spangle), which Anita Porchet herself lent to the dial from her personal collection of vintage paillons. Artisans in the past produced these delicate objects, formed in various shapes. However, neither the artform nor the artisans with the knowhow, can be found today.
Last, but not least, is of course, the 39mm 18K 4N pink gold case of the watch, with the ever desirable cornes de vache lugs.
Hand wound caliber 1731; hours and minutes; minute repeater (hours, quarters and minutes on request); 65-hour power reserve
18K 5N pink gold; 41mm and 39mm, the latter with 102 round-cut diamonds for a total weight of 1.90 carats on the bezel, lugs and crown
18K gold dials with eggshell white Grand Feu enamel; 12 applied hours-markers in rubies totaling 0.42 carats
Alligator leather with alligator leather inner shell with 18K 5N pink gold polished half Maltese cross-shaped buckle
Les Cabinotiers Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon in Titanium
Another unexpected piece from the set of 2019 creations is an execution of Vacheron Constantin’s Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon, in what is quite possibly the first-ever titanium case timepiece created by the maison.
The movement of the watch is one that was unveiled back in 2016, the Calibre 1990, featuring a dual-axis tourbillon, which served as a prototype in the creation of the 57260. And later, of course, was formed into a unique execution, stand-alone wristwatch showcasing the dual-axis tourbillon and dual-retrograde time display.
For the 2019 Les Cabinotiers Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon in titanium, the case of the watch has been treated with a dark PVD application, to protect against wear, and also to match the NAC treatment of the movement in the dark anthracite color, with a clous de Paris finishing.
Again, a pièce unique and non-chiming watch in this round up.