Alex, how about some unique insight into V.C. art dials

I know you have written some great articles on V.C.'s "art themed dials", but i was wondering if you have any insights and knowledge into the hows and whys of why the company got strated in making art themed dials.....It is such an important part of their DNA, that it would be interesting to see how that DNA got in there so to speak. I am sure i's a fascinating story....
Re: Alex, how about some unique insight into V.C. art dials
06/18/2012 - 14:04
The decision for VC to use what it calls les Métiers d’Art or artistic crafts (enameling, gem setting, guillochage and engraving) in its timpieces is relatively old. Historically it is not rare to see enamel reproduction of scenes from famous paintings or original works on the case back of pocket watches. If we take the modern era I think it would be safe to say that the Mercator launched in 1994 launched the whole process. The dials of this watch represented different maps as drawn by Dutch cartographer Mercator in the 17th century.  These dials represented either regions (Asia, Africa, Europe) or countries (Japan, France…). In the late 90s VC also created a few limited edition pieces called the Audubon whose enamel dials represented “The Birds Of America” as found in the drawings of naturalist  JJ Audubon’s eponymous book  (circa 1830). there was even one with an Ottoman inspired dial In 2004 the Mercator was discontinued but the theme of exploration was continued with the Tribute to the Great Explorers. 4 dials, 60 pieces each representing 4 great explorers: Parco Polo, Magellan, Columbus and Zeng He. I think at this point VC realized that the idea of artistic dials (Metiers d’Art) representing different cultures and openness to the world was a truly great idea considering the fantastic response by collectors but a theme other than explorers and maps had to be created. In 2005 for its 250th anniversary VC launchd a set called the Metiers d'Art 4 seasons using enameling, engraving and gem setting on a dial representing Appolo, the background representing different seasons. The Masks set (probably some of the most exciting watches ever) from 2007 set the new path. The dials (with an engraved mask) were inspired by masks found in Geneva’s Barbier Muller museum, the world’s largest private collection of primary arts (found in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania). For more on the Masks:   With the Symbolique des Laques VC  reinterpreted the Japanese art of the maki-e lacquer painting. In 2010 the association of the friends of the Paris opera (AROP) were celebrating  their 30th anniversary and VC as a patron of the Paris opera (to which it had donated a monumental wall clock). For the occasion VC was to create a unique enamel dialed watch representing the Opera Garnier’s ceiling as painted by Marc Chagall. The final result was so amazing that the brand decided to keep the watch for its museum and donate funds to the association. VC however decided to make unique pieces with enamel dials representing each of the 14 individual composer as painted by Chagall. Finally, at SIHH 2012 VC launched the Univers Infni inspired by the tessellation concept as interpreted by Escher and for the first time mixed more than two Metiers d’Arts in creating the dials. Even though the relationship between the Mercator of 1994 and the Univers Infinis of 2012 may not be evident yet if you look closer all have a common denominator of openness to different cultures and art forms.  
fantastic recap of previous introductions...
06/18/2012 - 14:40
I may not be a fan of an enamel dial per se, but you have to appreciate the concept and craftsmanship involved in creating those pieces of art. Great Explorers are closest to my heart but an enemy to my wallet and  I stray away from even a slightest thought of purchasing onefrown 
A visual feast!
06/18/2012 - 18:19
Thanks for reviewing these superb creations Alex.  FWIW, in the last issue of VOX, Mark Hayek singled out VC's artistic designs as his favorite of the "other" brands.
The Chagall
06/19/2012 - 00:13
pieces are phenomenal - I think my favourites by far of all the Metiers collection. Alex, what is the deal with these pieces? Any indication on whether they are going to be available for purchase or will they go on tour once they are completed (yes please as a whole set :))? I guess my question stems from the fact that I have seen a lot in terms of discussion of the pieces themselves, but not really what VC's plan is for them. Are they to be sold (well obvoiusly not the first) or is VC kind of telling the competition: here is something amazing, beat that! Any clues would be great! Best, Walid
Other than the 1st Chagall piece with the full painting all the others
06/19/2012 - 11:01
are for sale. I believe however that most have been spoken for
Droooling !
06/19/2012 - 16:21
raah, all of them are killers and the mercator has killed me. Francois
Wonderful To See and Read
06/19/2012 - 18:23
Thank you Alex. 
Nice survey of the recent Metiers d'Art pieces (and a request)
06/19/2012 - 19:56
Please share some of the "Dragon" dials as well. The work that VC's guilloche artisan does blows me away, both in terms of conception and execution, and isn't seen anywhere else in the industry. Bill