From the press release:
Vacheron Constantin unveils the latest addition to its Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse collection - The Dancer on Stage. The Art de la danse collection is based on the highlights of a ballerina’s daily life: learning, training and performance. These creations from the workshops of the Manufacture revisit the ancestral art of Grand Feu grisaille enamelling to highlight the art of classical ballet by reinterpreting the works of Edgar Degas.
The Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse watches crystallise the magic and the subtly alchemy between complementary arts: that of the ballerina, that of the enameller, and that of the watchmaker.
Within a white gold frame, Degas’ beloved ballerinas glide gracefully beneath the ever-dancing hands. The master enamel artist drew inspiration from paintings by the master and represent the pinnacle of a ballerina’s life with a solo stage performance depicted in Prima Ballerina circa 1876, a pastel on paper on show at the Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France).
The finesse of Grand Feu grisaille enamel painting reveals the slightest details of the protagonist: the tiniest fold of the tutus, the smooth velvet of the ribbons encircling their neck, the transparency of tulle and muslin… Entirely in the manner of Degas, the Vacheron Constantin master enamel artist reinterprets the exact moment, the gestures, the pose and the perspective, playing on chiaroscuro light and shade effects to anchor the scene firmly in reality.
Whereas grisaille enamelling is generally applied to black enamel, the House artisan decided to work with a translucent brown enamel base serving to accentuate the depth effect while lending a soft nuance to the painting. After applying this base, the enameller adds touches of Limoges white enamel that is then drawn out out using needles, extremely fine brushes and even cactus thorns so as to create graded shades and play on the various pigments.
Limoges white enamel is a now rare and extremely rare powder mixed with oils. The challenge lies in the material itself that is extremely difficult to work with and requires the artisan to display almost intuitive sensitivity. Each of the layers requires a firing operation that must be timed to the nearest second. With each Grand Feu firing, the enamels change, become more intense and retract. The enameller’s experience plays an essential role in this process. The firing times are calculated according to the type and quantity of the material applied and their exact duration is one of the trade secrets of the artist who must juggle with a broad range of grey shades. The latter are perfectly suited to the art of portrait painting, as is confirmed by the extreme finesse shown in depicting facial expressions.
Framed to perfection by the understated elegance of a finely polished 40 mm-diameter case, the Grand Feu grisaille enamelling of the Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse is entirely hand-crafted with infinite patience, meticulous care and intense concentration. A worthy heir to the spirit of the Cabinotiers cherished by the founders of the House, this ancestral technique reclaimed by Vacheron Constantin succeeds – without the help of vivid colours nor additional material – in creating an authentic depth effect that captures the ballerinas’ experience right the way through to the tiniest fold in their costume. The music to which they move is the regular beat of the self-winding Calibre 2460, entirely developed and crafted in the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin. Such a work of art naturally deserved an exceptional movement, and its superlative finishes are performed in keeping with the finest Genevan traditions of Fine Watchmaking.