Many watchmakers have created timepieces that are inspired by exotic destinations; these combine precision engineering with artistic design in order to capture the spirit and essence of such places. What’s more, these watches often feature unique aesthetics, materials, and complications that pay homage to the beauty and culture of the chosen destination. Vacheron Constantin is one such watchmaker that has now embarked on a ‘pièce unique’ journey with its new Les Cabinotiers Réctis de Voyages collection, tracing the international expansion of the Maison. These unique timepieces not only highlight the geographical areas where Vacheron Constantin has flourished, but they also pay tribute to the distinctive artistic character of each of these locations.
MINUTE REPEATER TOURBILLON TRIBUTE TO ARABESQUE
Vacheron Constantin forged its relationship with Turkey in 1817; subsequently, it cemented its partnership with other cities in the Middle East as well. The brand’s long-standing relationship with Egypt dates back to the mid-nineteenth century. The latest Minute Repeater Tourbillon is a testament to the brand’s rich cultural association with the region.
The motifs on this particular timepiece (Ref. 6650C/000G-084C) are modelled on those of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the largest in the United Arab Emirates, built between 1995 and 2007. Arabesque and floral patterns are omnipresent on the 82 domes and four minarets of the mosque. This pièce unique comes in a 44 mm, 18 ct white gold case with an 18 ct white gold hand-chiselled anthracite dial and an 18 ct white gold openworked plate that is hand-engraved. The engraving work takes three months to be completed; making certain tenth-of-a-millimetre incisions requires meticulous care..The dial gets dauphine hour, minute hands, and a tourbillon at 6 o’clock, with a small second hand inside it. The bezel and the lugs get the same lining texture.
MINUTE REPEATER TOURBILLON TRIBUTE TO ART DECO
The next destination is New York (Ref. 6520C/000R-085C). By the early 20th century, the Maison was well established in the city, attracting powerful New Yorkers like Henry and William James, John D. Rockefeller, and James Ward Packard. At that time, business tycoons were investing in skyscrapers, such as the famous Art Deco Chrysler Building, gracing New York’s skyline. The motif on the blue-and-black wood marquetry dial of this particular timepiece is inspired by the Chrysler building; it is achieved using 110 tiny wood pieces set inside gold frames. These are hand-carved from pearwood and tulipwood, stained in black or blue, and then sanded.
A gold pearl minute track and 11 faceted diamond hour markers diminishing in size as they reach noon ― to accentuate the vanishing line ― indicate the time while the tourbillon at 6 o’clock regulates the movement. The 18 ct pink gold case is engraved with herringbone motifs and measures 44 mm in diameter. Both the white gold and pink gold models are powered by Calibre 2755 TMR with 58 hours of power reserve; they come with finely crafted casebacks in the same case material. Each has a power reserve indicator as well.
The collection comprises four unique micro-sculpted gold dials, inspired by architectural landmarks in the Far East and Geneva. Memorable Places reflects Vacheron’s mid-19th century expansion in Asia, particularly in China. These models are inspired by the entrance gate to Cambodia’s Angkor Thom (Ref. 2000C/000R-103C), the entrance gate to China’s Confucius Temple and Imperial College Museum (Ref. 2000C/000R-105C), the former Chinese imperial Old Summer Palace (Ref. 2000C/000R-104C), and Geneva’s Tour de l'Île (Ref. 2000C/000G-106C).
Each dial is composed of several plates, cut from yellow, white and pink gold, and it takes no less than 200 hours to create a single dial, depicting each historical landmark. While Tour de l'Île comes in a white cold case, the rest of the models are housed in 40 mm pink gold cases. All four models are powered by Calibre 1120 with 40 hours of power reserve.
GRISAILLE HIGH JEWELLERY DRAGON
This timepiece (Ref. 2017C/000G-096C) takes wearers to China. Vacheron has been associated with the country since 1845. Featuring a green grisaille enamel dial – a first for Vacheron Constantin – the watch depicts a five-clawed imperial dragon. It is housed in a 40 mm white gold case, while the flanks, the bezel, the lugs, and the crown are set with 146 baguette-cut diamonds. Powering the watch is a self-winding Calibre 1120 with 40 hours of power reserve.
ARMILLARY TOURBILLON TRIBUTE TO ART DECO
The last destination on the tour is, again, New York. The inspiration is Art Deco skyscrapers. The timepiece is housed in a large 45 mm hand-engraved yellow gold case (Ref. 9860C/000J-090C). The tourbillon is located at 9 o’clock and protected by a domed sapphire crystal, while the retrograde hours and minutes are featured at 3 o’clock with a semi-circular gold track with applied gold Roman numerals and a white minutes track. Decorated by a master engraver, the gold case and the mainplate and bridges of the movement have been sculpted in bas-relief. The black bridges on the dial are decorated with hand-guilloché motifs, recreating the radiating, geometrical patterns of Art Deco.
Protected by four patents, the watch is powered by a manual winding Calibre 1990 with a 58-hour power reserve. All models come on Mississippiensis alligator leather straps with alligator leather inner shells, hand-stitched with platinum stitches, saddle-finish, large square scales, and 18 ct hand-engraved folding clasps. Depending on the reference, the straps come in black, dark brown or dark blue colour with baguette-cut diamonds as well.
MALTE TOURBILLON TRIBUTE TO HAUSSMANNIAN STYLE
This piece unique watch celebrates Vacheron’s expansion in Paris in the early 1820s and pays tribute to the urban planning project of Georges Haussmann (Ref. 30135/000R-089C). The 18k pink gold barrel-shaped case is hand-sculpted with motifs of Haussmann’s grandiose architecture with a lion and a frieze in champlevé on the case middle and gadroons engraved on the bezel, lugs and caseback.
Here, the mainplate and bridges of the entirely skeletonised movement are also adorned with motifs recalling the structure of the Eiffel Tower, and a tourbillon at 6 o’clock. Powering the watch is 2790 SQ with a 45 hours of power reserve. Finishing the watch is a brown Mississippiensis alligator leather with alligator leather inner shell, hand-stitched, saddle-finish, large square scales with an 18ct hand-engraved pink gold folding clasp.