First, Vacheron Constantin led the pack with pre-SIHH announcements and now it seems they’re again leading on with SIHH 2017 announcements proper. While there have been a few leaks already — such as the certain blue dialed bronze watch — this is then the first formal SIHH announcement to come in the closing days of 2016.

Continuing on their Métiers d’Art narrative, the maison has just announced the Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection: a trio of timepieces, each of which bear depictions of night-time, aerial views of three major cities from around the world, realised in exquisite Grand Feu champlevé & translucent enamel.

The cities of choice, says Vacheron Constantin, are those that have profoundly affected the universe of art in recent human history. It is, therefore, not surprising that these three cities are: Geneva, Paris and, lastly, New York.

Geneva, because of the pertinent role it’s played in incubating and nurturing all things horology. Specifically, in the case of Vacheron Constantin, their very first band of cabinotiers had set up workshop in the heart of town in the St-Gervais district of Geneva. Hence the city holds great significance in the history of the 261 year old maison.

Next, Paris, because it is difficult to discuss art without bringing up the name of the “City of Lights”, or in French, la Ville des Lumières — co-incidentally from which the watch collection’s name seems to have been coined. Lastly, New York, because very few aspects of modern day human culture stand untouched by the city that never sleeps.

But more than the tale of the three cities that the watches tell, there’s a great deal to be said about the enameling process that Vacheron Constantin has developed for the purpose of the Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection.

Grand Feu enameling may not be new to the world of watchmaking, but its particular mastery demonstrated by Vacheron Constantin here in the Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection, or previously in the Métiers d’Art Élégance Sartoriale collection, is nothing short of exemplary.

The new dimension, however, that the maison has brought to the art now is by having invited Japanese artist, Yoko Imai to collaborate in bringing the chosen night skies to life like never before.

Imai’s expertise is one that she developed herself, after having trained under the care of master Japanese calligraphers. Imai, however, uses her training to paint on canvas. And even then, it is actually the ink that she uses that sets her art apart. Imai uses pearl ink, which she mixes with small quantities of synthesized diamond. Thus, enabling her work to bear a quality of shimmer — quite literally — that is inspiring to say the least. Her expertise is one for using granular forms of precious stones incorporated into her medium of work.

For her partnership with Vacheron Constantin, and the enamel master at the maison — who after having performed his task of Grand Feu champlevé and translucent enameling hands the gold dial over to her — Imai then uses a delicate stylus to apply grains obtained from a variety of precious stones, such as diamond and platinum, to breathe life on the enameled landscapes, transforming them into twinkling nightscapes.

All three varieties of the Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières watches are powered by Vacheron Constantin’s Caliber 2460 SC; Geneva Seal and all. The watches will be produced in a limited numbered production, though, the exact number remains to be seen.

That’s all for now folks; an elegant, simple timepiece, but quite the demonstration of craft, no doubt.

Technical Specifications: Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières

References
86222/000G-B101 – Geneva
86222/000G-B104 – Paris
86222/000G-B105 – New York

Movement
Self-winding calibre 2460 SC; Hallmark of Geneva certified; 40-hour power reserve; 4 Hz (28,800 vibrations/hour); hours, minutes and center seconds

Case

40mm; 18K white gold; Water-resistance tested up to 30 meters; name of city on dial engraved on the back of each piece

Dial
18K gold dial with Grand Feu champlevé & translucent enamel and powder of precious stones (diamonds, pearl) & precious metal (gold, platinum) filled by hand

Strap
Mississippiensis alligator leather with 18K white gold buckle; polished half Maltese cross-shaped

Delivered with a magnifying glass.
Numbered limited production; only available in Vacheron Constantin Boutiques.