I was recalling the beauty of the new women's watches that I saw at the recent SIHH, the "Fabuleux Ornaments". These are indeed fabulous watches and mark a high point for the Vacheron design, casemakers and jeweler team.
Then I recalled seeing somethin similar elsewhere.
I draw your attention to Cologni's "Secrets of Vacheron Constantin", pages 284-288 and 292 and Julien Marchenoir's excellent "Treasures of Vacheron Constantin", pages 161-164 and pages 206-208.
There is some duplication but too many watches to scan and post.
Look at them and tell me if the designers were indeed inspired by these chefs d'oeuvres of the 19th century.
Re: Inspiration?!
02/10/2014 - 03:15
Here are some of the watches to which I referred:
Vic's artisans are without peers
02/10/2014 - 03:26
This is the house's signature in history. Romane, beauty, and technical difficulty. Just outstanding. Thanks Joseph. Best, Joe
Re: Re: Inspiration?!
02/10/2014 - 03:29
Thank you for for these scan, JB. I had already started my analysis before I saw this second post, but I see that we concur in many of these examples. The last scan, of the 1834 pocket watch, is one I did not cite, but is an excellent choice as well.
great find Joseph. According to the design department
02/10/2014 - 16:08
their inspiration came from a book one of the team members posessed!
Re: Inspiration?!
02/10/2014 - 03:25
The Metiers d'Art Fabuleux Ornements (FO) collection has been imprinted on my mind, and I wasn't even in attendance at SIHH this year. Thank you, JB, for referring us to these pages in "Secrets of Vacheron Constantin" ("Secrets") and "Treasures of Vacheron Constantin" ("Treasures"). I agree with you - many of the watches pictured there do indeed seem to be sources of inspiration, if not possible forebears, of FO. For instance, in "Secrets," the off-centre placement of the dial seen in the 1815 pocket watch on page 284 brings to mind the entire FO collection. The ornate back of this watch seems to recall the swirls of FO Indian Manuscript (IM), while the intricate patterns of the dial side appear similar to FO French Lace (FL). Also on page 284 in "Secrets," the 1831 pocket watch (seen enlarged on page 207 in "Treasures") reminds me of FOIM, while on page 285 the 1902 pocket watch's interlaced acanthus leaf design evokes in my mind FOFL. In "Secrets" (p. 285) and "Treasures" (p. 206), the 1831 pocket watch's colourations in its shell and floral design remind me of FOIM. In "Secrets" on page 286, the saturated reds and pinks of the floral design, and even the form of the flowers themselves, seem to recall the colours and flowers of FO Chinese Embroidery (CE). Meanwhile, in "Treasures" (p. 161), the 1812 pocketed watch with set pearls and engraved gold appliqués reminds me very strongly of FO Ottoman Architecture (OA). On pages 162 to 164 of "Treasures," all the watches pictured here with their engraved appliqués and gem-setting recall to my mind both FOFL and FOCE; the 1900 pendant watch on page 164 in "Treasures, " with its circular pattern of brilliant-cut diamonds against the case's gold engraved background, additionally seems to evoke FOOA. I could go on, there are some other beauties on all these pages that JB listed, but I think one gets the gist of what I'm trying to say with these examples.
The press release mentions
02/10/2014 - 20:23
the inspiration for Fabuleux Ornements were "reinterpretations of Ottoman architecture, Chinese embroidery, Indian manuscripts and French lacework" so you're spot on.  Your observations certainly make the case for that one book Alex mentions being the Treasures of Vacheron Constantin.
Re: The press release mentions
02/10/2014 - 22:54
(Thank you, tick-talk.) That is possible, tick-talk, but the duplication seen in "Secrets" and "Treasures," plus the inclusion in "Secrets" (but not "Treasures," as far as I could see) of the "eccentric" dial (off-centre dial placement) 1815 pocket watch ("Secrets," p. 284), lead me to wonder if there might be another book (i.e., "The Art of Vacheron Constantin") that incorporates these watches from both "Secrets" and "Treasures." If so, perhaps this third book is the one to which Alex refers. An interesting mystery.
The book is not on VC but on arts in different cultures (nt)
02/10/2014 - 23:53
Re: The book is not on VC but on arts in different cultures (nt)
02/11/2014 - 05:43
Well, that was a short-lived mystery! Thank you, Alex, for resolving this. (One presumes that the designers were already aware of Vacheron Constantin having established a precedent for "eccentric" dials (off-centre dial placements), as in their 1815 pocket watch ("Secrets," p. 284)).
From the horse's mouth
02/11/2014 - 10:05
Interview of Vincent Kauffmann Director of Design at VC in an interview from June 2011:

The Historiques aside, do you often seek inspiration in Vacheron Constantin’s past creations?


I obviously have images of our heritage in my head, but the danger is to keep looking back. I try to keep an open mind; the danger is to re create “fake” vintage pieces. We have an exceptional heritage but the goal is to create modern Vacheron Constantin pieces. Typically the Quai de l’Ile case. For the full interview: Behind the Scenes with Vincent Kauffmann Vacheron Constantin Director of Design

Re: From the horse's mouth
02/11/2014 - 12:29
Thank you, Alex, for this excerpt from the "horse," Messr. Kauffman, but especially for the link to the entire, fascinating interview. There were some very penetrating questions, save perhaps the last one, and I was quite absorbed by it all. Particularly the concept of "designing for women." I struggle myself with this idea, as I feel that really good design, whether it be for transport, hospitality, or personal use, should naturally appeal to all sexes (notice I didn't write "both" sexes). Of course, I acknowledge femininity and masculinity, but what interests me most is the intersection between what is considered stereotypically feminine and what is considered stereotypically masculine: androgyny. I think this is where universally appealing design actually resides. Of all the landmarks of great design, whether it be in nature (e.g., the nautilus shell, the chicken egg, snowflakes) or human made (e.g., intarsia in the Taj Mahal, the first-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS, the iPhone), how many of these could one characterise as being "for women" and "for men?" I wonder how to reconcile this theory of androgyny to modern western civilization's dictates of what is suitable for use by women and men. Clearly, objects are feminised and masculinised. Many of these objects strike me as being of less than great design, however. Thus, though appreciative of the challenges Vacheron Constantin may face in creating a product line specifically geared towards women, since the Maison is not a jeweller per se, I question the validity of designing one line of watches for women, and another for men. Haven't we evolved past the time of shrunken "men's" watches slathered in gems, labeled "the ladies' collection?" Is the 40+ mm diameter, 14+ mm thick, rugged amulet the best we can design for men? There must be a middle way of watch design with all the timelessness and beauty and handsomeness of a well-bound book, an Eero Saarinen Pedestal Collection table, a carefully folded paper airplane. Something that is not created just for women to use or only for men. These are some of the things that ran through my mind after reading the thought-providing interview with Vacheron Constantin's Director of Design.
a request
02/11/2014 - 12:54
dear mamehta, would you please use indention and paragraphs as your posts are extremely interesting but very difficult on the eye as they appear as one big blob and having paragraphs would make them easier to read?
Re: a request
02/11/2014 - 19:28
Tourbillon, thank you for the compliment. You bring up a frustrating aspect of my contributions, over which I unfortunately have no control. I only have access to THL using iOS7 on my iPad and iPhone, a platform with which THL seems to have limited compatibility. I am unable to indent between lines of text, or even to use proper kearning between the period at the end of one sentence and the first letter of the following sentence. I am unable to double space between lines of text. I am unable to upload photographs. I have been informed that THL will sometime in the near future unveil an iOS-friendly version which will allow me to upload photographs, and presumably also to properly format paragraphs. I apologise for the inconvenience. Since I endeavour to have my message understood whenever I contribute to THL, it pains me that my posts demand that the reader wade through one unwieldy mass of text. (It is often with dismay that I view my writing once it is posted.)
In fact if you are using an iPad
02/11/2014 - 20:24
you can double space by pressing the "return" key. I am doing so using my iPad :-)
Re: In fact if you are using an iPad
02/12/2014 - 01:17
Alex, I have been regularly using the "return" key to attempt formatting. Is there some secret to this? It doesn't seem to work for me. I have pressed "return" twice between each of these four sentences.