We’ve seen quite a few awe-inspiring timepieces this year, thanks to watch brands pushing boundaries and collaborating with artists. An honoured tradition in Swiss watchmaking, Métiers d’Art watches are highly coveted by collectors. In addition to the inclusion of groundbreaking complications, these watches are exquisitely decorated, inside out. From beautifully finished movement to perfectly polished cases and artistic dials, the elements are simply breathtaking.
Here are some of the meticulously crafted masterpieces that have caught our attention this year.
Revisiting the Past: Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d'Art Tribute to Great Civilisations
Vacheron Constantin collaborated with the Louvre teams to create a new series of Métiers d'Art watches, paying tribute to four ancient civilisations. Inspired by exemplary masterpieces of the Louvre, these four watches own a certain kind of richness and splendour. Artisans have created the dials deploying rare techniques and processes, such as champlevé and grisaille enamelling, stone marquetry, stone micro-mosaic and hand engraving. Here are the four wonders:
Grand Sphinx De Tanis
The model has been achieved by cutting stones with polished surfaces. Along with the process of enamelling, the colour on the main dial has been obtained after six firings in the kiln. To give the necklace an aged appearance, the outer frieze has been embellished with petals in champlevé enamel, sprinkled with inclusions. The sapphire crystal sports gold applique. The case and buckle are made of 18k pink gold and the watch is powered by automatic Calibre 2460 G4/2 and 40-hour power reserve. The watch also includes a power reserve indicator and a small seconds subdial.
Lion De Darius
Vacheron Constantin's Tribute to Great Civilisations: Lion of Darius timepiece pays homage to ancient Persian King Darius the Great. The dial uses engraving and champlevé and the writing elements are engraved by metallisation on the sapphire crystal — these include one of the first written texts by Darius upon ascending to power.The case is made of 18k pink gold and the watch is powered by a self-winding Calibre 2460 G4/2 and 40-hour power reserve. The watch also indicates a calendar aperture, day of the week, stop second device, hours and minutes.
Buste D’ Auguste
This model is a representation of the bust of Augustus, adopted son of Julius Caesar, and his coronation with an oak wreath. Along with the blue-green enamel on the dial, seven different types of stones constitute a micro-mosaic — 660 in total — embellishing the dial. Unlike the other models, this one uses 18K white gold for the case, the dial and the buckle.
Victoire De Samothrace
This is inspired by the statue of Victory — a winged goddess resting on the prow of a warship. The statue was discovered on the island of Samothrace in northern Aegean Sea in 1863. The brown hue of the main dial has been achieved by blending rare enamels. The process required firing the dial six times in the kiln. Grisaille enamelling has been used to decorate the two Greek vases on the periphery. This model uses 18K white gold for the dial, the case and the buckle.
Roses, Roses, All the Way: Van Cleef Montre Lady Arpels Heures Florales Cerisier
Inspired by flora and fauna, this watch celebrates the benevolence of Nature. It is a beautiful blend of rose gold, white gold, white and yellow diamonds, pink sapphires and white mother-of-pearl along with miniature painting. Powered by a self-winding mechanical movement, the flower opens to display the hours and lateral minutes. The timepiece reimagines the Flower Clock, which, in the days of yore, used to tell time by the number of opened flowers — a concept inspired by Carl Von Linné, an 18th century Swedish botanist.
Best of Both Worlds: Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Sonatina ‘Peaceful Nature’
By uniting Eastern and Western artistic traditions, the Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendez-Vous Sonatina ‘Peaceful Nature’ series combines rare decorative crafts with the technical prowess of Swiss watchmaking. The trilogy makes use of such decorative crafts as miniature-painting, lacquer work and gem-setting that Jaeger-LeCoultre has mastered in its Métiers Rares® (Rare HandcraftsTM) atelier. The trilogy tells three stories with respective images on the dials. The first one features a crane hovering over a pine tree, the arc of its wings following the curving lines of the dial and a blue-green lacquer in the background. Cranes are considered auspicious in Asia, symbolising a soaring spirit and longevity. The pine tree is evergreen, a symbol of virtue and longevity. On the second, a Kingfisher is painted on the golden-brown dial surrounded by a red quince tree — a symbol of longevity and rejuvenation. On the third dial, a bright orange-coloured koi can be seen swimming in a pond, under the shadow of a willow tree — a symbol of spring and romance.
Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Manufacture Calibre 735, a self-winding movement with a chiming complication and night-day indicator, developed especially for the Sonatina, resonates with this theme.
Gilded Glamour: Cartier Libre
Cartier has always experimented with creativity, especially when it comes to the Cartier Libre collection. This version is completely reversible, a watch in the front and a bracelet on the back. The strap is made of continuous triangular links that directly integrate a diamond into the case, mirroring a spring-like structure. This provides the flexibility to twist and turn. Taking inspiration from jewellery worn by actor Gloria Swanson in the 1930s, this timepiece serves old-Hollywood glamour on the wrist. It’s powered by a quartz movement, and the rose gold case and bracelet are adorned with 418 brilliant-cut diamonds, 54 grey moonstones, 81 black spinels and 81 red garnets.
Sugar Rush: Bovet Miss Audrey Sweet Art
Dials are often the canvas for watchmakers to play with colours, art and metals. But Bovet goes a step further with Miss Audrey Sweet Art. For the first time, a dial is made from pure sugar to capture the sweetness and purity of a child’s desire. This is a tedious process, which starts with preparing the sugar crystals to not melt when exposed to heat or light. Then they are selected and combined with special paints, and then manually applied to the dials by Bovet’s artisans. The process is patented and has to be error-free. The colours and textures of every dial are intriguing, and the hands have a romantic touch, forming a heart once every hour. The watch comes with a 36 mm stainless steel case and an alligator strap. It can be worn with a pearl or rhodium-plated necklace as well. Powered by Calibre 11BA15 and a self-winding movement, this timepiece is an eye candy indeed!