Vacheron Constantin celebrates its 260th anniversary with two delicious additions to the Métiers d’Art collection. The new timepieces feature movements that are entirely hand-engraved.
For centuries, master craftsmen have been enhancing the appearance of fine timepieces. Their work represents a significant investment in each timepiece on behalf of the manufacturer. Achieving the highest levels of skill requires years of education, training, and practice. Unlike machine-based enhancements, where a few minutes spent inputting instructions generates unlimited, error-free examples, craftsmen such as engravers painstakingly produce pieces one at a time, each requiring days or weeks of work, all performed by hand. The finished piece is exquisite to behold, and each example is unique unto itself.
For the master engraver, no undertaking presents a greater challenge than decorating the functional parts of a haute horlogerie movement. Not only is the workspace quite small, but the nature of each workpiece makes the effort enormously demanding. First, the engraving is the final step among the many applied to each part. The components come to the engraver with all of the bevels and sinks perfectly polished. The engraver must exercise great care not to damage that work. Next, the engraver will work with pieces that are quite slender, sometimes less than .5 mm in thickness, rendering them delicate in the extreme. Because the engraved pieces are functional, the engraver cannot alter their overall shape in any way. A plate or bridge that comes to the engraver perfectly flat must leave in the same condition, or the movement’s function may be affected. The engraver must also exercise great care to make each cut to the perfect depth. Too deep, and the part will be weakened and unusable. Finally, the engraver must avoid even the smallest error-producing slip. Some say that engravers work with no safety net, because unlike many other artists, it is not possible to repair their mistakes.
Vacheron Constantin has selected the hand-wound 2260 and 4400 calibers to receive this fine embellishing. Each caliber is adorned with delicate floral motifs, reminiscent of the engravings found on the first pocket watches created by Vacheron Constantin from 1755 onwards. The scrolling motifs and arabesques pay tribute to the acanthus leaf, a source of inspiration that has appeared since Antiquity across all forms of artistic expression.
Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Gravées – 14-day Tourbillon Caliber 2260/1
For those with an interest in high complications, Vacheron Constantin offers the engraved 2660/1 caliber hand-wound tourbillon movement with a 14-day power reserve. The movement is set within a 41 mm round case in 950 platinum. The slightly off-center hour and minute functions highlight the tourbillon carriage, coupled with a small seconds display.
The power reserve display at 12 o’clock is read off with a “dragging” or “trailing” hand that displays the remaining energy on a 280° sector. This oversize display is divided into 14 days, with each day divided into two 12-hour portions, for precise reading.
The 231-part movement features two large bridges, each beautifully hand-engraved. The display side of the movement provides a clear view of the tourbillon carriage, shaped like a Maltese Cross and finished to the highest level. The white-gold hands sweep over a sapphire crystal dial that features frosted zones to enhance legibility of the engraved and inked small seconds and power reserve graduations, while a slate gray chapter ring carries the Vacheron Constantin name and a white gold Maltese cross. Revealed through the transparent dial, each elegant, hand-engraving movement requires more than one week’s work to complete.
Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Gravées Caliber 4400/1
For those whose taste runs to the simple yet exquisitely made things in life, Vacheron Constantin offers the hand-wound Caliber 4400 two-hand movement. The 39mm case in 950 platinum is crowned by a concave bezel that accentuates its slenderness. The ultra-thin movement provides a generous power reserve of almost three days. To assure an entirely unobstructed view of the engraving, this timepiece is not fitted with a dial. The white gold hands are a deep gray shade, to match the slate-gray minutes chapter that is enhanced with a white gold Maltese cross.
Rare by their very nature, these two exceptional timepieces are available exclusively in Vacheron Constantin boutiques