Latest addition to the Métiers d’Art collection, the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac is a series of timepieces based on the 12-year cycle. These watches are enhanced by enamelling and engraving.
China is famous for numerous discoveries including the invention of paper and is also known as the initiator of the art of paper-cutting or Jianzhi. This technique appears on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list and is echoed in Scherenschnitt, the popular art of paper-cutting born in the Pays d’Enhaut region of Switzerland. Sculpted in paper according to the principles of Jianzhi, the animals of the Chinese zodiac provide a remarkable demonstration of the art of using full and empty spaces.
Engravers and enamellers at Vacheron Constantin worked alternatively on this Year of the Horse model, crafted in pink gold or platinum and limited to 12 pieces each, reserved for Vacheron Constantin Boutiques exclusively.
The leaf motif, stemming from classic Chinese iconography, is directly engraved in the gold dial. The pattern remains semi-embedded and stands out from its gold base by a subtle stage-setting of variously accentuated reliefs creating a depth effect. The raised bamboo stalks appear to be floating over the dial.
With the horse engraving, on which the details of the mane and coat measure a mere fraction of a millimetre, the artisan provides a tangible expression of the artistic vision behind this creation.
Then comes the stage of Grand Feu enamelling, a technique invented in Geneva and which remains the exclusive preserve of a rare breed of artisans. By applying the enamel in successive layers, the enamel specialist further enhances the visual intensity of the colored dial. The necessity of maintaining tight control of the colour and the reactions to the firing process that takes place in a kiln at around 800 to 900°C, calls for a specific way of reasoning that takes years to acquire. A final layer of enamel is then applied before a final firing operation that vitrifies the dial and lends a shiny glazed effect that gives added definition to the floral motif.
Calibre 2460 G4 animates the Métiers d'Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac timepieces. Vacheron Constantin perpetuates the art of watchmaking by providing a hands-free display of time. It does so through four windows respectively revealing the hour, the minutes, the day and the date. The first two indications are of the dragging kind and the last two of the jumping type, and each appears through one of the four apertures arranged around the central dial motif.
Beating at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour, the mechanical self-winding movement is equipped with a 22-carat gold oscillating weight adorned with a dynamic geometrical motif inspired by the shape of the Maltese Cross, the historical House emblem.