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Vacheron Constantin - Vacheron Constantin Takes Us On A Musical Tour De Force

Vacheron Constantin Vacheron Constantin Takes Us On A Musical Tour De Force

For the 2020 season of novelties, the oldest Geneva watchmaking brand combines technical expertise with aesthetic splendour.

Vacheron Constantin is 265 years old. That’s a long time to have any kind of career, not to mention a successful one. People I speak to often seem to think that Vacheron Constantin is coasting on its prestige and history, because they see that the company’s most successful model is a classic, round dress watch, but they couldn’t be more wrong. There are enormous reserves of creativity at Vacheron Constantin, and you don’t even need to look that hard to find an example of what I’m talking about. Just last year, their Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar pretty much redefined our ideas of power reserve management and, through sheer ingenuity, turned the idea of a “practical high complication” (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) into reality.

Three years ago, during one of his first interviews after he took up the reins as brand CEO, Louis Ferla told me that there were big plans in place for the Atelier Cabinotiers, the full-service bespoke watchmaking department of Vacheron Constantin. Instead of working purely on custom commissions, the department would initiate highly complicated and decorative projects of their own to take to clients, in a more proactive strategy than before. We’ve seen this plan start to take root at Vacheron Constantin, and the 2020 novelties showcases this initiative at full strength. 

Presenting the trilogy La Musique du Temps, a thematic exploration of euphony by Atelier Cabinotiers in the form of mechanical complication and the decorative arts. 

Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Split-Seconds Chronograph (Tempo)

Vacheron Constantin are pretty familiar with ultra-complicated watches. The ref. 57260 pocket watch that they released in 2015 on the occasion of the brand’s 260th anniversary remains an industry benchmark and expanded several areas of mechanical expertise. This year, the Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Split-Seconds Chronograph (Tempo) has a total of 24 complications by Vacheron Constantin’s count, split between two dials on a double-sided wristwatch. 

Vacheron Constantin nous entraîne dans un tour de force musical

Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Split-Seconds Chronograph (Tempo) - side 1 © Vacheron Constantin

This is the most complicated wristwatch Vacheron Constantin have ever produced, which is saying something. Some truly rare complications make an appearance here, including the indication of solar time, equation of time and times of sunrise and sunset. This is on top of the already impressive perpetual calendar, split seconds chronograph and minute repeater (the traditional Grand Complication trifecta). The 1,163-component cal. 2756 is built on the famous cal. 2755, one of the best-sounding chiming movements of all time. It’s the sumptuous horological feast to end all feasts. 

Vacheron Constantin nous entraîne dans un tour de force musical

Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Split-Seconds Chronograph (Tempo) - side 2 © Vacheron Constantin

Les Cabinotiers Astronomical Striking Grand Complication (Ode To Music)

Astronomical complications make frequent appearances at Vacheron Constantin, which is pretty understandable for a brand with stratospheric levels of technical expertise and ambition. In Les Cabinotiers Astronomical Striking Grand Complication (Ode To Music), Vacheron Constantin are flexing hard in this area, and the result is a 19-complication compendium of indications such as the perpetual calendar, the running equation of time, times of sunrise and sunset, phases of the moon and — my personal favourite — sidereal time, which is the time calculated using the stars instead of the sun as a reference point.

Vacheron Constantin nous entraîne dans un tour de force musical

Les Cabinotiers Astronomical Striking Grand Complication (Ode To Music) © Vacheron Constantin

This symphony of calendar information is accompanied by the crystalline tones of a minute repeater, but not just any minute repeater. The base of this ultra-complicated movement is the cal. 1731, the extra-thin minute repeater that Vacheron Constantin first presented at the Hong Kong edition of Watches&Wonders in 2013. You guys remember? Successfully building this complicated juggernaut atop a movement so delicate and refined — that in itself should tell you everythin you need to know about Vacheron Constantin’s level of technical prowess.

Vacheron Constantin nous entraîne dans un tour de force musical

© Vacheron Constantin

Les Cabinotiers (The Singing Birds)

With these four unique timepieces, Vacheron Constantin moves the conversation into the realms of aesthetic splendour. At the mechanical heart of this timepiece is the ultra-thin cal. 1120, one of the most recognisable and meticulously engineered movements of all time, which still holds a place in ultra-thin watchmaking records today despite originating in 1967.

The wandering hour is the chosen method of time display, all the better to create as large an artistic canvas as possible for the eponymous birds depicted on these watches. The champlevé enamel technique is used here, where the dial artisan first has to hollow out the dial to define the shapes of the bird and its perch, before filling the spaces with enamel in a multi-stage process that alternates between kiln firing and additional layering of enamel. 

Vacheron Constantin nous entraîne dans un tour de force musical

Les Cabinotiers (The Singing Birds) © Vacheron Constantin

Lest you think that Vacheron Constantin have dedicated all their efforts to exalted mechanical objects far beyond our mortal reach, their 2020 novelties also include relatively more attainable (which is not to say any less exquisite) timepieces… Stay tuned for our concluding chapter to this year’s Vacheron Constantin novelties at Watches&Wonders Geneva.

Vacheron Constantin nous entraîne dans un tour de force musical

Les Cabinotiers (The Singing Birds) © Vacheron Constantin

 

 

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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.

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