Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art watches draw their inspiration from art, history, and culture. This openness to the world pervades the philosophy of the Manufacture, which symbolically celebrates the spirit of adventure through its iterations. The timepiece maker has now released a striking quartet of limited-edition watches as a tribute to explorer naturalists. There are 10 timepieces per reference: Ref. 7500U/000G-B991: Cap-Vert - 1, Ref. 7500U/000R-B992: Détroit de Magellan - 2, Ref. 7500U/000G-B993: Terre de Feu - 1, and Ref. 7500U/000R-B994: Cap de Bonne-Espérance - 2.
The theme of these timepieces will definitely remind wearers of the brand’s previous collections, especially the Great Explorers series. As the brand puts it, with the latest timepieces, Vacheron Constantin “invites collectors to embark on the Beagle alongside the most illustrious 19th century naturalists”, tracing the routes the British ship followed in the 1830s. The five-year journey and discoveries of the Beagle provided the backdrop against which the new watches have been created, complete with historical, botanical and zoological decorations.
Inside their 41 mm 18 ct gold (white and pink) cases, the meticulous craftsmen and enamellers have conjured up a bygone era, inviting wearers to travel back in time and think about the discoveries of great scientific explorers. Each watch tells its story using traditional crafts on a minuscule horological canvas. On the left-hand side, a cut-out on each dial reveals the time in an original way. The hours are read digitally as they travel along a 120-minute track.
Métiers d’Art Tribute to Explorer Naturalists Cape Verde (January 1832)
On the upper part of the dial of this 41 mm pink gold watch, engraving and enamelling join hands to trace the silhouette of the Beagle. Viewed from its stern, the finely engraved golden ship with its billowing sails glides across a miniature-painted ocean. The lower part, displaying the hours and minutes, reveals a naturalist scene in which bouquets of flowers burst forth and blossom in the shade of the luxuriant foliage, reproduced by the enamelling artisans with infinite finesse.
Métiers d’Art Tribute to Explorer Naturalists Straits of Magellan (1833/1834)
After several weeks at sea, the Beagle crossed the Strait of Magellan, discovered some 300 years earlier by the explorer whose name it bears. While the region was extremely remote, naturalists discovered abundant vegetation, areas where palm leaves mingled with ferns, as reproduced on the lower part of the dial. The colours have been carefully worked out by the enamelling artisans over the course of several kiln firings to ensure the best possible match with the shade of pink gold from which the 41 mm case has been sculpted. The upper part of the dial has a fine white gold engraving, depicting the Beagle riding blue-enamelled waves.
Métiers d’Art Tribute to Explorer Naturalists Tierra del Fuego (1833-1834)
On Tierra del Fuego, the archipelago at the southernmost tip of the South American continent, the naturalists travelling aboard the Beagle discovered enchanting flora and fauna. Vacheron Constantin's artisans drew inspiration from a number of period engravings to create a picture that needs to be explored from every angle. Housed in a 41 mm white gold case, the upper dial features an engraving depicting a 3D butterfly and two birds standing out against a background adorned with miniature paintings. On the lower part of the dial, an ancient terrestrial map of Tierra del Fuego is reproduced in miniature enamel, along with a windrose, as a nod to the world of travel.
Métiers d’Art Tribute to Explorer Naturalists Cape of Good Hope (May 1836)
As depicted on its way back to Europe, the Beagle skirts the African coast from the Cape of Good Hope. This legendary passage has been used by navigators since the late 15th century and can be seen on the miniature enamel maritime scene presented on the lower part of the dial. A closer look reveals every detail of the Beagle, depicted through an extremely fine decoration. On the upper part of the dial, the engravers and the enamellers have created a landscape — a kind of Garden of Eden — just like what the naturalists observed when they stopped at the Cape of Good Hope. The delicate plumage of the birds, perched amidst the foliage, is matched by the languid silhouette of an iguana — all this and more at the heart of the 41 mm pink gold case.
Powering the watches is the automatic 1120 AT calibre, offering 40 hours of power reserve. It meets the specifications of the Geneva Seal. Turning each watch over showcases the exhibition caseback, accompanied by a 22 ct gold rotor with a compass rose. Ref. 7500U/000G-B991: Cap-Vert - 1 and Ref. 7500U/000R-B992: Détroit de Magellan - 2 are finished on dark blue Mississippiensis alligator leather straps, with alligator leather inner shells, hand-stitching, saddle-finish, large square scales, and 18ct white gold/18 ct pink gold buckles or polished half Maltese cross-shaped buckles. On the other hand, Ref. 7500U/000G-B993: Terre de Feu - 1 and Ref. 7500U/000R-B994: Cap de Bonne-Espérance - 2 get the dark green Mississippiensis alligator leather straps with alligator leather inner shells, hand-stitching, saddle-finish, large square scales, and 18 ct white gold/18 ct pink gold polished half-Maltese cross-shaped buckles.