SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey

Rarely has the main theme at SIHH for Vacheron Constantin be so strong .

Vacheron Constantin launched its first skeleton watch in the 1920s and since the 1960s these watches have always been on catalogue, maybe a bit discretely but in 2014 Vacheron Constantin affirms its mastering of the skeleton watch more than ever before with simple to highly complicated pieces.

It is interesting to underline the fact that all modern Vacheron Constantin movements (basically since 2005) have been designed as to be skeletonized and this is highlighted by the new 3D architectural skeleton movements found in this year's offerings.

But let’s start with the full dials before letting the skeletons out of the closet

Malte Tourbillon Collection Excellence Platine

Launched as a pre-SIHH piece, the Malte Tourbillon is now available in a 50 piece limited edition in the Collection Excellence Platine meaning not only is the case in platinum but also the deployant clasp, an achingly gorgeous sand blasted platinum dial and… platinum/silk stitching on the strap. Needless to say that this watch (like all the other CEP timepieces) is a smack in the face!





Malte Small Seconds

In 2012 – to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the tonneau shape in its collections Vacheron Constantin launched a revamped version of the Malte, closer in design to its historical forefathers than the previous models. Originally available only in a rose gold case housing the manual winding caliber 4400, this year a white gold version is launched with two major modifications (which will be applied throughout the line)

  • A minute track has been added to the dial
  • A sapphire crystal case replaces the solid one. The crystal is tonneau in shape and gives the impression that the movement is a form one whereas it remains round

Funny how just the smallest things can make huge change. I find the minute track adds extra presence to the dial and the opening of the case back is a pretty interesting touch even though a tonneau movement would have been the best solution but I can understand that developing a tonneau movement would have dramatically increased the price of the watch.






Malte Small Model (mechanical)

Previously only available with a quartz movement the Malte for ladies is now available with the hand wound cal 1400.




Malte Tourbillon Openworked

Also launched in 2012 with a full dial, the Malte Tourbillon is now presented in a gorgeous skeletonized version housed in a platinum case and probably my favorite Vacheron Constantin offering of SIHH this year! But that’s not all, as this version alsointroduces the new Cal 2790 with date and power reserve indicator! The slate grey outer ring gives the watch a certain presence which contrasts well with the delicacy of the skeletonization and engraving, the latter consists of a specific triangular pattern chosen to accentuate the contrast between light and shade on the movement. The movement itself takes over a week to bevel and engrave.


Interestingly with the skeletonization the case actually looks more angular that the full dial model.

The effect you see on the date ring will not exist on the final version as these photos are that of the prototype. The final version will have a sand blasted background.






Patrimony Traditionnelle 14 Day Tourbillon Openworked

Sometimes skeleton watches may seem stuffy and old fashioned but here the designers and artisans have done an amazing job as even if the cal 2260 has had close to 40% of its metal removed it  retains a certain masculine and contemporary look which is highlighted by the slate grey outer ring and I particularly like the notched power reserve indicator, very industrial looking!


The engraving is quite interesting too as the movement has a “Gothic” pattern and all in all the movement engraving and beveling alone takes over a week to achieve!



The hefty 42mm platinum case finds some lightness with the skeletonization.


Metiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements

Vacheron Constantin presents a new collection dedicated to the fairer sex, this is the second after the Florileges which were launched last year. And I am lost for words here, never have the words “works of art” been so applicable than here.
We are on a whole different level, these are no longer watches but a homage to arts, crafts culture and to paraphrase Baudelaire an invitation to travels.

The Fabuleux Ornements (which loosely translates as beautiful ornaments) is inspired by the world of ornaments from different fields and cultures:

  • Painted manuscripts from India
  • Lace patterns from France
  • Silk embroideries from China
  • Architectural motifs from Turkey

These watches house the skeletonized calibre 1003 in a 37mm rose gold case (white gold for the French Lace model) with surprising dials using Guillochage, Grand Feu enamel, diamonds, pearls and mother-of-pearl, as well as engraving, glyptics and gemstone cloisonné effects.

Each model is limited to 20 pieces.

India manuscript
Grand Feu champlevé enamelling and hand engraving

Framed by a pink gold case topped by a diamond-set bezel, ten vibrant enamel colours blossom on the dial. These shimmering shades form oriental-inspired flowers blooming against a blue sky. The richness of Indian illustrations are highlighted by a profusion of intense enamels surrounding the skeletonized calibre, like the floral motifs decorating the margins of ancient oriental writings. The contours of its décor are first traced using the champlevé technique to create cavities separated by thin gold partitions in order to apply the 10 different enamel hues…which is quite a daunting task. The foliage is hand-engraved after enamelling and is one of the most delicate stages, since even the slightest slip of the hand can jeopardise the entire creation.





Ottoman architecture
Chamfering, mother-of-pearl, and half-pearl beads

The dial consists of a chamfered pink gold moucharaby (wooden lattice) motif of which every edge is delicately bevelled by hand. Daintily perched on a natural white mother-of-pearl base, the gold gridwork studded with half-pearl beads echoes the scrolling patterns in Middle Eastern architecture. The meticulously executed decoration on the rings, known as milgrain and featuring strings of tiny bead shapes coined along the edges, add to the magic of the workmanship.





French lacework
Guillochage, Grand Feu enamelling and gem-setting

A luminous white gold lacework adorns the translucent hand-guilloché Grand Feu enamelled dial. This lace pattern is reminiscent of the grand tradition of French-style embroideries, evoking the dextrous craftsmanship performed with the crochet needle or the spindle. The base of the gold dial is clad in a guilloché motif lending subtle depth to the transparent enamel.





Chinese embroidery
Glyptics, gemstone cloisonné work and engraving

Crafted in pink gold according to the cloisonné technique, the dial is carpeted with flowers in rubies, cuprites and garnets. Like the silk thread Chinese embroideries embellished with precious fabrics, the stones cut and sculpted according to the glyptic art are adorned with finely engraved gold leaves and pistils. God is in details as can be seen in the veins of the plants and the rounded shape of the petals which endow them with a fascinating depth effect. The particularly delicate ruby engraving is a true challenge. The pink opals are individually cut and lapped to form a tapestry of stones on a dial prepared for this purpose with barely 0.5 mm thin white gold partitions.






SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey

Metiers d’Art – Mécaniques Ajourées

Translating as Openworked Mechanics these watches  are a first in two fields;  the first skeletonized version of Cal 4400 housed in a 40mm white gold case and are currently the only men’s Metiers d’Art models made not as a limited edition and at a price which wouldn’t cost an arm and leg!
The designers were inspired by the architectural codes of the European railway stations built in the 19th century and sharing common codes:

  • Arches: the curves of the bridges
  • Glass ceilings: the skeletonization
  • Central clocks: openworked ring with Roman numerals


To achieve this new methods of skeletonizing and engraving have been used. Rather than using a bocfil or tiny handsaw to cut out the smooth surface of the mainplate and bridges before drawing them out with a file and chamfering them, the engraving artisans have carefully chased the parts around their entire circumference so as to create a sculpture with its own volume and depth. Inspired by the ribbed vaults of late 19th century railway stations, they have created delicate arches on the calibre. These rounded shapes are a complete change from the straight lines of classic skeletonized movements, and imply an even more complex process of chamfering and hand-drawing. Amid a clever interlacing pattern of interior angles, the polished zones catch the light, while the matt finish of the hand-drawn surfaces further heighten the contrast with the radiance of the polished areas.


But that’s not all! The in-house enamelling artisans have created a ring topping the calibre which requests a certain virtuosity, since the circular shape of the ring to be enamelled implies substantial risks of distortion.

A further difficulty was added here in the form of achieving one of the shades most difficult to create with Grand Feu enamel: a deep and opaque black.  This was a daunting challenge, since the darker the colour, the more the light reflects even the slightest imperfections. To render the full beauty of this black hue, enameller had to create a perfectly smooth and uniform surface so as to avoid the appearance of any undesirable bubbles during the successive firings of the enamel.











The Mecaniques Ajourées watches exist with three different colored rings: black, blue and grey. A 4th version with black ring, diamond set bezel (42 baguette cut diamnds)  and buckle (12 baguette cut diamonds) ,for a total of 2.8 carats is also available.




Even if not a limited edition per se the Mecaniques Ajourées watches will be made in very low numbers due to the difficulty of execution.


SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey


01/23/2014 - 18:59
01/23/2014 - 19:24
01/23/2014 - 20:17
01/23/2014 - 21:03
01/24/2014 - 11:48
01/27/2014 - 10:25
01/24/2014 - 19:06
01/27/2014 - 10:26
01/26/2014 - 10:35
Re: SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey
01/23/2014 - 17:28
Look forward to rest of article.
Arghhh, left hanging by the 'net
01/23/2014 - 17:53
You are a good tease, Alex angel.  Thanks for starting the tale, and including those gorgeous photos.  The Malte Tourbillon Openworked has my vote for Sexiest Watch of the Show!
I'm all with you on the sexyness of the Malte Tourbillon :-)
01/27/2014 - 10:16
Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures and your great knowledge w
01/23/2014 - 18:51
Dear Alex, Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures and your great knowledge with us. The pictures are beautiful but having had the timepieces in my hand at the SIHH I can say that they are more beautiful in real. I hope everybody of you will have the chance to hold, feel and maybe wear them one day.....
thank you and was great meeting you
01/27/2014 - 10:17
Great report
01/23/2014 - 18:59
Thank Alex for sharing these great picture with us. A lot of info, knowledge and beauty to convince me to get one of these work of art pieces.
glad you enjoyed the article
01/27/2014 - 10:17
Thanks for your excellent pictorial story. A few observations:
01/23/2014 - 19:05
A) how come you have not included some more pre-SIHH pieces such as the 1731 minute repeater, 1951 HIstoriques, and the 14 day Tourbillon CEP? B) I love the Malte open worked Tourbillon but in all honesty I prefer its predecessor. The 14 day open worked Tourbillon is something out of the world. As someone else said on this forum, a truly gothic piece. For me it falls in the category of the 1731. C) the women's pieces are truly extraordinary. David Heng, the then head of VC in singapore told me that VC will be coming out with good women's pieces in early 2011. I didn't expect this. This is out of the world. Maybe they can use the same shape and come up with a men's version - maybe something masculine like maps or something. D) very rarely does a timepiece hit all the right buttons for me. Very very rarely. The mecaniques is one of them. I have given it the nickname VC railroad watch. It is the most beautiful openworked piece I have seen. It has a certain masculinity to it which is quite often lacking in other openworked pieces, whether past VC and other brands. Alex you are correct that while not affordable, it still does not cost an arm and a leg. I truly aspire to own either the black or blue version, preferably the blue. Let's see. Don't need to win the lottery but need to strike an excellent business deal. Great story Alex and great pictures. Thanks for sharing as always.
Thanks KK, all the watches you mention were featured in my Watches and
01/23/2014 - 22:30
wonders article :-)
Re: Thanks KK, all the watches you mention were featured in my Watches and
01/24/2014 - 08:18
Oh ok, got it.  Thanks.
Wrist shots please!
01/23/2014 - 19:24
Thanks Alex for these great live scans! I would love to see both the black and blue pieces and the Malte skeleton. I just love these. I prefer the EP 14 day. I still think that is a phenomenal watch. I wish I could have been there. Respo told me you all had a blast! Best, Joe
here's one wrist shot :-)
01/27/2014 - 10:18
Thank you for this report
01/23/2014 - 20:17
It's a pleasure to read your "personal journey" each year. VC's work on the openworked watches is outstanding in both conception and execution. Wish I could have been there. Bill
Thanks Bill, missed you ate SIHH this year, hopefully in 2015?
01/27/2014 - 10:19
Prefection and Orgasm
01/23/2014 - 21:03
Just had orgasm thanks to these pictures, thank you allot Alex for sharing with us!!! I can't belive it what VC can create, pure, just pure fantasy and magic i see in these watches!!!Metiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements is my favorite collection!! Such art, such masterpiece! A blessing for the eye!!
oops, pass the tissue (nt)
01/23/2014 - 21:33
Re: oops, pass the tissue (nt)
01/23/2014 - 21:47
glad you enjoyed the article
01/27/2014 - 10:23
Delighted to have shared the journey...
01/23/2014 - 22:48
Alex, your introduction commenced a comprehensive catalogue of some standing. I refer to your opening sentence "Rarely has the main theme at SIHH for Vacheron Constantin been so strong". These few words, I feel, have a great deal of validity! Thank you very much. Tony
Tony hope you'll be part of the journey next year
01/27/2014 - 10:23
Re: SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey
01/24/2014 - 04:35
A tremendous collection! I can honestly say that I would be ecstatic to provide a home for any of these pieces, the astounding Metiers d' Art Fabuleux Ornements included, perhaps the finest series of watches for women that I have ever seen. Much gratitude to you, Alex, for sharing these excellent photos and descriptions. I will sleep well tonight, visions of divine openworked and decorated watches swirling in my head.
I agree that the Ornements are out of this world!
01/27/2014 - 10:24
A great report
01/24/2014 - 11:48
As always Alex....a great report. Sorry I missed the festivities.
Thank you Hamish, shame you missed but maybe next year?
01/27/2014 - 10:25
Thanks Alex, beautiful report and watches,
01/24/2014 - 16:23
Astonishing 14days tourbillon with this sekletonised version, beautiful métiers d'art overall, and even if not in the photos a great year with the minute repeater. :) cheers François
Thank you François
01/27/2014 - 10:25
Re: SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey
01/24/2014 - 18:10
Thank you Alex for this first set of fabulous photos taken at the SIHH 2014.  I am not realy fan of squeletonised mouvment but I can say that I would make an exception for the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14 days tourbillon openworked. As you say this masterpiece looks modern, contemporary and very  masculine. I love it. I look forward to see the second half of your "Journey" at the SIHH.
I'm not a great fan of skeletonized watches but here they are gorgeous
01/27/2014 - 10:26
Thank you!
01/24/2014 - 19:06
Alex, thanks for posting your Personal Journey.  This is always one of my favorite posts of the year.  Even though I was there this time, it was almost sensory overload with too much to take in.  These photos allow me to linger a bit more over the 2014 novelties.  The Malte Openworked Tourbillon was my favorite novelty, although the Metiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements are absolutely stunning, particualry under the loupe.  One is more beautiful than the next.  I love the off-center placement of the movement in the case.  You are absoltuely right that these pieces transcend being watches and are simply works of art that also tell the time.  Best regards, Robert
Oops, thanks respo,
01/26/2014 - 10:14
I meant Metiers d'Art Fabuleux Ornements. (I'm learning more French here, on the Vacheron Constantin website, and on The Hour Lounge than I ever did in school. Of course, being interested now helps.)
Was fantastic meeting you Robert :-)
01/27/2014 - 10:26
Re: SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey
01/25/2014 - 18:35
Excellent review, Alex. You really covered everything in detail. I liked everything including the womaen's watched,extraordinary. Will post a few picks when I get home. All the best, Joseph
Thanks Joseph :-)
01/27/2014 - 10:26
Great report as always, Alex
01/26/2014 - 00:47
Only one thing comes to mind when I look at the PT 14-day Tourbillon Openworked: jaw, meet floor... The phenomenally talented atisans at VC have made a fantastic presentation of pieces that can only be described as pieces of art.  As we rely more and more on technology, horological pieces such as these remind me of how timepieces are more than just timetellers but rather masterpieces of artistic expression.  My interest has shifted to movements, finishing, and craftsmanship; it is here where VC excels.  Phenomenal pieces all around. My only qualm would be the introduction of 4 tourbillons within so few months... pacing would have kept the momentum going, but I cannot complain in light of these fantastic pictures... ehm wallpapers :D (and hopefully a hands-on experience in the not too distant future). Admittedly, I have become more of an admirer of VC's pieces (or maybe I need to reconsider my price limits ;)). Again, Alex, many thanks for this excellent presentation and more importantly for sharing your thoughts with us! Best, Walid
Thank you Walid, I hadn't actually paid attention to the number of
01/27/2014 - 10:28
tourbillons launched...I guess because each is so different from the other
Great sharing Alex!
01/26/2014 - 10:35
Now I don't feel bad I couldn't attend SIHH as your photos made me feel I was right there! VC has once again cemented its position as making very artistic watches which require extremely high levels of craftsmanship. These novelties speak for themselves. For the more affordable pieces, I find the new Malte having a tonneau shaped sapphire on the case back is pure genius. Without paying for the cost of a new form movement, it looks like one on the case back and of course the 4400 is superbly well finished! Will consider this piece in white gold if I am looking for a tonneau watch! Cheers Robin
Thanks Robin, glad you enjoyed the article and the watches
01/27/2014 - 10:29
Re: SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey
01/27/2014 - 20:38
Oh be still my heart! Alex! I love the Malte Tourbillon. Such a classic timepiece for both everyday and special engagements. A definite heirloom for generations to come. Now, about The Fabuleau Ornements... My word. Delicate details and painstakingly applied enamels, pearls, and handengraving, all hallmarks of truely exquisite pieces of wearable art. I couldn't possibly leave them out of my Top 10 timepiece collections for women from SIHH this year. I look forward to meeting you in 2015.
Welcome to the Lounge Aamaal :-)
01/28/2014 - 11:41
Re: SIHH 2014 A Personal Journey
04/06/2014 - 08:08
Thanks Alex for another amazing article! Unbelievable craftsmanship. My favorites are the blue railway station one and the Indian manuscript. Now I have to go and hide this article from my wife. :-)