SIHH 2013 is a special year for Vacheron Constantin. In the past 13 years that I have been attending SIHH it is the very first time the vast majority of new launches are reserved for the fairer sex. Not that Vacheron Constantin is turning its back to its male clientele but rather reconnecting to a glorious past starting early 19th century and peaking in the roaring 20s and glorious 30s when, teamed with Verger Freres, the brand was creating marvels of feminine beauty and grace.
The collection presented this year consists of an elegant mix between Malte, Patrimony Contemporaine and Traditionnelle as well as a new Métiers d’Art collection: Florilège which literally gives a function to art!
However, as we are on a vastly male forum and at the risk of being considered a macho let’s start with the timepieces dedicated to us.
On a side note all the new mechanical timepieces with inhouse calibes are compliant with the new Geneva Hallmark which applies no longer only to the movement but to the timepiece in whole.
Patrimony Traditionnelle Manual Wind – Platinum
A new iteration of what has become today an iconic timepiece. Housed in a 38mm platinum case with a sublime two tone slate grey dial which adds a dash of panache to an already desirable model. The Patrimony Traditionnelle Manual Wind is powered by the inhouse caliber 4400.
Patrimony Trditionnelle Chronograph – White Gold / Rose Gold
The Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph with white gold case (42mm) and rose gold crown and pushers get a dial change and the original opaline/silver dial is replaced by a soft warm cream dial. This watch houses Cal 1141.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the use of the tonneau shape by Vacheron Constantin the Malte models were redesigned in 2012 and this year 3 models are launched. A model in rose gold or white gold with a diamond set bezel as well as a sleek piece pictured below in rose gold with a diamond set bezel (50 round-cut diamonds for approx. 0.96 carats) and dial (142 round-cut diamonds for approx. 0.59 carats.) The new Malte Lady comes in a case measuring 28.30 x 38.75 mm, curved to hold the most delicate wrist, and houses the calibre 1202 quartz movement.
I don’t know what to think of this watch. I have a love/hate relationship with it as it attracts me in a bizarre manner! I like its looks, I find it sexy, I like the bling in it but I don’t really see it as being a Vacheron Constantin and would love to have your thoughts on it. The 36mm case is made in white gold and set with 528 round cut diamonds for approximately 2.2 carats and houses the automatic cal 1226. The photos below are of a prototype, the final version will have a black disc like in the last photo.
Patrimony Traditionnelle Lady manual-winding
This watch is classical on the verge of being somewhat bland. Not my cup of tea! Cut from pink or white gold, the case of the new Patrimony Traditionnelle for women has a 33mm diameter and a bezel set with 54 round-cut diamonds. The watch houses the beautiful manual wind cal 1400.
Patrimony Contemporaine Lady gold bracelet
Here I say kudos to the Vacheron Constantin design team as they have not just taken the now iconic Patrimony Contemporaine design and reduced it to feminine proportions (36mm case) but have managed to create a brand new chic timepiece with a drop dead gorgeous bracelet and housing the automatic cal 2460.
Two versions in pink gold are available.
The first crowns an opaline silver-toned dial with a diamond-set minutes scale (48 round-cut diamonds for approx. 0.16 carats). The fine applied hour markers and slender hands for the hours and minutes are curved to follow the external curve of the dial. The bezel is set with 68 round-cut diamonds for approx. 0.80 carats
The second version, paved with over 600 diamonds (for approx. 1.8 carats) and pays a further tribute to the Maison’s expertise in jewellery. The gems take over the entire surface of the dial and invade the bezel and the outside of the bracelet (76 round cut diamonds for approx. 1 carat).
The Métiers d’Art Florilège collection
Love, infatuation, dazzelment, bewilderment and of course art are a few of the words rattling in my brain to describe my feelings for this collection.
Ever since officially launching the Metiers d’Art collection in 2004 for the first time a new opus called Métiers d’Art Florilège has been created exclusively for women. This trilogy pays a vibrant tribute to the delicacy of English botanical illustration of the 19th century. The plants, taken from Robert John Thornton’s The Temple of Flora, published in 1799, grow over the dials of watches that combine the artistic crafts of enamelling, guillochage and gem-setting.
Plants and flowers on a dial? Put bluntly like that there is nothing which can attract but the vision behind the creation of these pieces and the sensitivity and delicacy of execution defy conventional nomenclature.
In a first stage, the guillocheur cuts lines a tenth of a millimetre apart to create an expanding symmetrical pattern. Then the enameller outlines the shapes in thin enclosures of gold that separate the different fields of colored enamels, according to the cloisonné technique. The enamels are then fired in an oven at around 800°. This is a delicate operation that the enameller repeats several times to deepen to colour and to let the light play through the translucent enamel. The final step is a last layer of transparent enamel, similarly vitrified and polished to preserve the flower in brilliant definition.
The enameller responsible for these miniature works of art is Anita Porchet and one can only applaud the collaboration with the other artisans in creating dials with such profusion of colours, each dial giving an illusion of amazing depth and perspective.
The Florilège watches come in 37mm white gold cases and house cal 4400. Made in 20 pieces each with the bezel set with round-cut diamonds (0.89 carats) and 5 more with the bezel set with baguette-cut diamonds (1.47 carats) available only the Vacheron Constantin Boutiques.
Métiers d’Art Florilège – Queen watch
My favourite among the 3 with a stunning mix of greens and reds the brilliant enamel colours add depth to the dial to achieve an uncanny realism.
The dial represents the strelitzia plant, a symbol of loyalty and good luck.
The strelitzia plant from South Africa reached the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in 1773. The director of these famous English gardens, Sir Joseph Banks – to whom Francis Masson, having sailed with James Cook, brought back the flower – named it thus in tribute to the queen of England who came from the Mecklemburg-Strelitz ducal family.
Métiers d’Art Florilège – White Lily watch
A pure piece of poetry the Virgin’s lily, to which Thornton devotes the 20th plate of his work, is one of those flowers that people have always appreciated. Symbols of purity and virtue, these radiantly white large trumpet-shaped blooms have accompanied the most wonderful stories, from the Byzantine Empire to French royalty. To accentuate the splendor of the flower, the artist who worked on Thornton’s plate chose a dark background, a feature reproduced on the dial of the watch. The pistils, depicted in the minutest detail, seem to be about to move, while the soft lustre of the petals, highlighted by the finely guilloché pattern, draws light into the enamel.
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Métiers d’Art Florilège – China Limodoron watch
In China, it symbolises wealth and refinement. As soon as it arrived in England in 1778, its extravagant nature, its originality and its exotic origins immediately aroused exceptional interest among botanical enthusiasts who jostled to be among the first to own such a gem. People have always been fascinated by the distinctive shape and the intense colour of this orchid with its evergreen leaves. A soft tranquillity emanates from this dial, stemming from the exquisite delicacy of the fiery red flowers that create a striking contrast with the creamy tints and make a strong match for the bright green hue of the stalk.
In the past years Vacheron Constantin has been introducing wonders of complicated horology, this year the brand has taken a step back and given itself not only a moment of contemplation but that of artistic liberty and a call to the feminine senses.
- Would there be a concern with the diamonds on the buckle, since the buckle often brushes/makes contact with desktop items or when typing? The reply back was “They are diamonds, other things might get scratched up but not the buckle”.
- How do feel about an OS watch that is only water resistant to 50m, is it still an OS? The reply: “Who would go swimming with a diamond encrusted watch, unless it was in my own, private, swimming pool. In which case it wouldn’t matter”