Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières
The first three models in this new collection, which are certified by the Hallmark of Geneva, are dedicated to the nocturnal magic of Geneva, Paris and New York.
The new Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection is an invitation to embark upon a nocturnal journey above cities bubbling with creativity. A wide variety of powders creates a bird’s-eye view miniature tableau of these sprawling urban expanses, on dials draped with an enamelled base.
The Maison has dreamed up a sparkling encounter between two exceptional arts: Grand Feu champlevé enamelling, a skill passed on for almost three centuries by the Vacheron Constantin artisans; and hand-applied precious powder, a technique mastered by Japanese guest artist Yoko Imai. This is the very first time that this technique has been used on a watch dial to which particles of gold, pearl, platinum and diamond powder are meticulously distilled one by one, endowing the enamel with exceptional radiance. The bright dots of light, placed with the greatest precision, compose a portrait of these broad and majestic urban landscapes. The light effects play across these strikingly realistic roads, rivers and famous landmarks. Individually applying precious powder particles naturally implies extreme dexterity, and doing so on the surface of a watch involves the additional constraint of defining an ideal altitude for each city so as to convey realistically the emotional impact of its urban outlines. The miniature tableaus that Yoko Imai has composed faithfully reproduce the real ‘light cartography’ of the cities, with their various sorts of light, such as variously animated districts and even traffic density.
For each of the dials, the Vacheron Constantin master enameller first examined the possibilities afforded by champlevé in order to highlight the shapes of the streets, gardens and stretches of water. After hollowing out the gold dial by hand according to the chosen outlines, he then applied successive layers of translucent coloured enamels. Between each coating, the dial is fired at the extremely high temperature of 850°C. These delicate stages enable the powdered glass mixed with colouring oxides to be melted, transformed and then vitrified by cooling – with the inevitable risk that the dial may crack or flaws may form. The master enameller has taken up the additional challenge of composing subtly translucent and dark shades in order to reproduce the singular night-time atmosphere.
Vacheron Constantin invited the Japanese artist Yoko Imai to associate her art with that of the enamelling artisan. Trained by the great Japanese masters, she has developed her own artistic technique: calligraphy-inspired painting on canvas, inspired by precious powder. For Vacheron Constantin, she has for the first time adapted this process to the enamel of a watch dial, while creating a fascinating chiaroscuro effect.
The flyover begins with Geneva, the cradle of technical and precious watchmaking, renowned for having nurtured the art of miniature painting on enamel. Then comes Paris, the “City of Light” par excellence, a favourite among artists, philosophers and writers. The aerial view of the capital retraces the life of iconic landmarks such as the Place de l’Étoile and the Champs-Elysées, the Seine, as well as the Eiffel Tower famed for its light effects, viewed from above and engraved in gold. Finally comes New York, the city that never sleeps, a symbol of dreams and effervescence, where everything is possible. Reproducing it stretches the technique of applying precious powders to its absolute limits, with the highest vantage point that could possibly be depicted. Sprinkled across the Grand Feu enamel, tens of thousands of precious dots animate the luminous outlines of Manhattan Island with Central Park, the Hudson River and Brooklyn.
Manufacture Vacheron Constantin mechanical self-winding Caliber 2460 SC drives a display of the hours, minutes and seconds. Visible through the transparent case-back, the 22K gold oscillating weight features a finely executed decoration inspired by the Maltese cross, the Vacheron Constantin signature emblem. Each of the components, whether visible or hidden, is adorned with finishes crafted in accordance with the finest watchmaking skills exemplified by bevelling, circular-graining and polishing. The movement is housed in a precious white gold case.
An exploration of the history of Vacheron Constantin is a voyage of discovery, revealing the excellence of age-old watchmaking. Each timepiece is the result of the creative inspiration of the watchmaker or craftsman, dedicating their knowhow to the birth of outstanding watches. The Manufacture also works within a social and environmental code of ethics, and has had Responsible Jewellery Council certification since 2012.Find out more
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