From the press release
Two years after its first presentation, Vacheron Constantin unveils three new models from its Métiers d’Art Florilège collection
A tribute to naturalism and to the art of 19th century British botanical illustrations, the dials are adorned with colourful petals that appear so real that one could almost touch their rounded volumes, velvety feel or even catch a hint of their delicate scent.
In this new chapter, the most attractive plants from around the world blossom thanks to a cleverly orchestrated association of figurative guilloché, Grand Feu cloisonné enamelling, and gemsetting.
Vacheron Constantin united some of the finest artisans to illustrate the three new Métiers d’Art Florilège jewellery watches. Together, they undertook an in-depth thought process on the graphic side of the project in order better to reveal the special features of the original motifs and to coordinate every single gesture involved in the production stages. After working on a series of sketches in order to recapture the engraving effects, the zones to be illuminated were defined, the most suitable textures were selected, and the best colour associations chosen.
Figurative guilloché work
The master guillocheur drew the outlines of each plant life element on the gold dial plate: petals, stems, leaves, buds, pistils… He then guilloché-worked each flower by recreating the volume and the vivacity of each petal using a rose engine carefully safeguarded in the Vacheron Constantin workshops for more than a century. Contrary to traditional guilloché motifs, the direction and the curve of the rounded lines are all different and individually adjusted. This meticulous task involves great patience and is based on hundreds of attempts: each stroke corresponds to a highly specific measurement combined with a specific number of turns of the rose engine – much like the code of a safe. These three new creations comprise between 45 and 73 zones to be decorated, depending on the model. Any mistake in the course of the process involves starting over from scratch. And yet this guilloché pattern is essential to amplify the radiance and the nuances of the enamels coating the decor. It serves to highlight the texture of the flower and the depth of the subtle shades, while achieving the closest possible resemblance to the original engravings.
Grand Feu cloisonné enamelling
It was independent miniature painter Anita Porchet who applied the enamel to the motif traced by the guillocheur, with the two artisans working in perfect harmony. The colours of the illustrations are crafted in Grand Feu cloisonné enamel. The master enamellist first placed tiny gold ribbons around each plant life element so as to create small hollows ready to house the colour pigments, an extremely tricky phase. The ribbon had to be bent yet not broken in order to adjust it perfectly to the areas to be marked out. Anita Porchet then applied various enamel layers: some translucent, others opalescent or sometimes more opaque, depending on the desired depth and shading required. It is all a matter of subtlety, and the enamel specialist plays on transparency, on the fusion of colours, while maintaining a very strict order in terms of the nature of the enamels according to the rules governing the firing process. This meticulous operation involves numerous successive firing operations in the kiln serving to intensify the colour and light effects as well as the gradation of the materials. She then applies a glaze to vitrify the enamel and to give a special brilliance to the floral motif. In this instance, the countless gestures and shades have clearly pushed the boundaries of classic artistic craftsmanship.
Setting with pure diamonds
Vacheron Constantin maintains extremely stringent standards when it comes to selecting its precious stones. The diamonds are of excellent (IF to VVS) clarity and superior (D to G) colour. The bezel welcomes no less than 60 baguette-cut diamonds (totalling 1.40 carats) in the five-piece limited edition exclusively reserved for Vacheron Constantin Boutiques, and 64 round-cut diamonds (0.89 carats) on the 20 watches comprising the main collection. The precious stones are individually set around the rim of the bezel and lend the final touch to this masterful creation.
The vividly coloured leather straps ensure the overall perfection of these models and are secured by a white gold pin buckle which, depending on the model, echoes the diamonds on the bezel through settings featuring 12 baguette-cut diamonds (0.52 carats) or 21 round-cut diamonds (0.22 carats).
Time ticks by with perfect regularity
The Métiers d’Art Florilège trio is equipped Calibre 4400. A mechanism boasting outstanding precision that beats off the hours and minutes with perfect regularity at a cadence of 28,800 vibrations per hour. It has an almost three-day (around 65-hour) power reserve. The decoration and finishing reflect the longstanding expertise of the Manufacture. The Côtes de Genève create ever-changing reflections on the mainplate, the polished screw heads gleam, the straight-grained angles accentuate the fine craftsmanship of an exceptional movement measuring 12.5’’’ (28.60 mm) in diameter. The latter is housed in a perfectly round white gold case with a transparent exhibition back protected by a sapphire crystal providing a chance to admire this intricate workmanship.
These three models come in two styles: one version with a bezel set with round-cut diamonds (approx. 1.10 carats), available in a 20-piece limited numbered edition; and another featuring a bezel set with baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 1.90 carats) available as a series of five numbered watches exclusively available from the Vacheron Constantin Boutiques.
These watches are all certified by the Hallmark of Geneva.
Métiers d’Art Florilège – RENEALMIA WATCH
A profusion of flaming corollas stand out against an opalescent milky white backdrop. This is the Curved Renealmia, which originated in Latin America and is now called “the flower of my soul”. This flower was historically much appreciated for its exotic extravagance. Its deep green leaves measure up to 60 cm and its clustered blooms play on white and red contrasts that end in striped red lips. Its soft and pleasant scent is similar to that of ginger. The subtle painted details on the dial of this model mingles beautifully with the generosity of Nature, subtly marked off by the gold wire of the cloisonné.
Métiers d’Art Florilège – ROSE CENTIFOLIA WATCH
The Rose centifolia– a beauty with countless petals – stems from extensive crossbreeding between wild varieties from the Caucasus and Iran. It is also appreciated by devotees of flowering plants for its abundant fragrant flower production. The rose on the dial of this model has been “plucked” at the heart of a densely flowered bush on the original plate and drawn by Thornton himself who, although a medical doctor, was also endowed with undeniable artistic gifts. The master enamellist has played on a palette of pink shades with soft, fluffy effects against a background of subtle pearly grey shades lit up by delicate guilloché motifs literally capturing the light in the enamel.
Métiers d’Art Florilège – TULIP WATCH
The Tulip, which originates from the foot of the Himalayas, soon conquered the entire Ottoman Empire. No other flower has so greatly enthused humankind, to an almost manic extent. Its bulb engendered strong speculation that led in the 17th century to a total collapse of the market and the financial ruin of some unconditional tulip-lovers. Yet this crisis did not diminish the interest in this flower, as confirmed by the plate featured by Thornton as the first in his publication. It also proves the spectacular diversity of the shades one can achieve through successive crossbreeding. This model with its more contemporary, linear graphic design highlights various guilloché motifs. The strongly contrasting colours of the enamels, between the beige background and the mingled yellow, rosé and aubergine shades of the petals, accentuates the realism of the depiction.