The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

I know many have been waiting expectantly for part Deux of my article on the Palais Garnier but it will have to wait a little bit because of a minor distraction, coincidentally related to the very building…the Paris Opera Ballet, (now officially called the Opéra National de Paris) which is making a tour in the United States for the first time in 16 years.  It is the oldest national ballet in the world tracing its origin to the mid-sixteenth century and has performed at the Palais Garnier since its opening in 1875. Now we all know how creative and artistic are the watchmakers at Vacheron Constantin; but they are also great supporters of the arts. They are in fact one of the principal sponsors of this ballet tour. So it was with great anticipation that I accepted an invitation through the Hour Club to attend the gala opening night performance at Lincoln Center’s David Koch Theatre.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

The evening’s events were preceeded by a wonderful luncheon at the French Consulate, hosted by Vacheron Constantin.
Before lunch there was champagne of course, and the added bonus of some of Vacheron’s exquisite timepieces: The Chagall ceiling and the Mozart watches, the three Escher watches, the 2755 perpetual tourbillon , and three Urushi enamel watches. Unfortunately they were behind class and the light was awful. (I need an excuse for the terrible photos of the watches). But here they are anyway.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"



The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

All the usual Vacheron suspects were there, Charlie Torres, Hughes de Pins, Dorit Engel and Daniel Adams to name but a few. However, I was delighted to find several of the “Loungers” as well, including Bill Lind, Robert Esposito and Michael Berlin and his wife, with whom we shared a table. It was great as usual meeting up with all of them and discussing music, opera, ballet…but mainly watches.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"
From Left to Right: Bill Lind, Charlie Torres, Bob Esposito

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"
From Left to Right: Bill, Robert and Michael Berlin

Bill, not to be outdone was wearing two watches, a palladium Quai de L’Ile and a platinum Patrimonie Contemporaine. Robert was wearing his new Ultra Fine 1955 with a beautiful 1003 movement, and Michael wore his white gold Saltarello. Not pictured below were my Toledo, my wife’s 230th Anniverary watch with the older1003 movement and Michael’s wife’s beautiful Prestige de la France.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

There were of course a few speeches. The luncheon honoured Brigitte Lefevre, Director of the Paris Opera Ballet. Introduction was by Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy. Charles (Juan-Carlos) Torres gave an overview including the role of Vacheron. He compared the perpetual movement of a Vacheron watch with that of the dancers. As one can see in the background collage, the aspects described are applicable to both watches and the arts and ballet in particular. I suppose it gives a new meaning to the phrase, “Dance of the Hours”. He spoke with grace, humility and pride in Vacheron’s continuing role.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"
Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"
At the top of the collage covering the entire wall, it reads: " Mastery, Rigor, Elegance, Art, Passion, Precision, Performance, Creativity, Emotion"
Very fitting for bothe the Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

He was followed by Olivia Flatto, Chairman of the American Friends of the Paris Opera and Ballet . She introduced the Ballet and spoke of the Franco-American cultural relationship and friendship, in English and French. She then introduced Brigitte Lefevre who also spoke about the ballet company she directs and her gratitude for the warm welcome they have received in America and the enthusiastic crowds in Chicago and Washington. She ended by expressing her thanks on behalf of the entire company to Vacheron for their kind and generous support.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"
Olivia Flatto (foreground, see next pic) I included this photo since it also shows Ashley and Ellen in the background, two of Vacherons wonderful staff.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"
Brigitte Lefevre, Director of the Paris Opera Ballet.

The food and the company were excellent! It was indeed a wonderful way to spend part of the afternoon.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"
Robert Esposito, Daniel Adams, Vacheron Concierge and Michael Berlin

The evening’s events began with a reception on the terrace of the David Koch Theatre and there was no end to the hors d’oeuvres and spirits. But the best was yet to come.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"
Entrance to the Theatre. Charles Torres and Hughes de Pins greeting guests.

The performance, entitled “French Masters of the Twentieth Century included Serge Lifar’s Suite en blanc with the music of Eduard Lalo; Roland Petit’s L’Arlesieene with music by Georges Bizet; and Maurice Bejart’s Boléro with music by Maurice Ravel.
When one sits close to the stage, one can see that the beauty and grace of the dancers is enhanced by their sheer strength. Its quite a remarkable feat to combine these elements well and make their synthesis so transparent. The performance deserved the standing ovation it received from the sold-out house!

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

A very tasty late dinner followed. And there was even  an excellent small jazz orchestra and vocalist.
There were a few more short speeches followed expressing gratitude once again to Vacheron Constantin for the support of the Opera Ballet. And since it was close to Bastille Day, the small group played La Marseillaise (the French National Anthem), with vigorous vocal accompaniment from many guests. For a moment I thought I was at Rick’s in Casablanca and should be shouting “Viva la France! Viva la France!“ But I managed to control myself.
From a horological standpoint, one highlight of the evening was on the wrist of a guest at our table. There were four guests from the Russian division of Vacheron with some very nice watches including the new tonneau-shaped Malte Small Seconds. But one person had a watch I had read about but never seen: The Sputnik watch with the same movement as the Tribute to the Great Explorers (Ref. 1126).  Spectacular, is the only way to describe it! There were only 10 pieces made. I did try to get some pictures but the light was very low and the results unsatisfactory. But here is my best shot, anyway.

The Paris Opera Ballet and Vacheron Constantin - a personal "tour"

Even though the festivities were just beginning, we left shortly thereafter. An early flight back home and a full day and evening at work required a few hours sleep.
However, I cannot end this mini-saga without mentioning those people who made the event happen with professionalism and finesse. There are many to mention. The planning and execution was seamless and transparent. There was no lack of an “accueil chaleureux” from all the Vacheron staff. I would like to mention Daniel, Ellen, Ashley and Katie , but there are many others involved who were so pleasant, sincere and hard-working. Kudos to them all!
I will end with a sincere thanks to Charles Torres, Hughes de Pins and Dorit Engel for a fantastic day.
Merci pour tous. Nous nous sommes amusés commes des fous!
Superb report on a superb event, Joseph
07/15/2012 - 22:13
It was so great to meet you, your lovely wife, and Robert, and to finally meet Bill in person after speaking with him on several occasions.    The VC sponsorship of the arts is truly inspirational and their execution at events such as this is as flawless as their watches.  It was a long day, but well worth it.
Thanks Michael,
07/17/2012 - 17:19
It was great meeting the two of you. I enjoyed very much speaking with your wife about opera. It was a delightful event and an opportunity to make new friends. All the best! Joseph
Mercie mille fois, Joseph!
07/16/2012 - 01:01
What a great report, Joe!  Thak you for putting all of that work in writing this and taking the photos.  I have a hard time focusing on taking photos, admiring the watches, and enjoying my time with freinds at these VC events, so I usually forgo the photos and hope that someone else is capturing the moments.  You, on the other hand, manage all the tasks with grace and skill.  As I mentioned before, I regret I could not stay for the evening events, especially now that I learn that I missed a Sputnik sighting!  I love that VC supports the Paris Opera Ballet, the coming together of two passions for me.  Best, Robert
Thanks, Robert
07/17/2012 - 17:21
for the kind comments. It was a great pleasure finally to get to talk to you a some length. But its always never long enough. Hopefully our paths will cross again soon. Best wishes, Joseph
An event to remember and what a great crowd
07/16/2012 - 03:01
for V&C and The Paris Opera Ballet. I could also almost taste the lobster, one of my favorites as you know. You really have created an excellent "tour" for all that could not attend and brought it back for all could attend.  Many thanks, Tim
Tim, as usual,
07/17/2012 - 17:23
you are too kind. Thank you for the kind words. I'm glad I could share. Warm regards, Joseph
good to put names on certain faces and see that Bill was wearing
07/16/2012 - 10:51
a tie cheeky and the Sputnik !!! WOW  not many people have ever seen the watch! All in all looked like a fantastic event. I wish I could have been with you guys and thank you Joseph for the write up, almost as good as being there wink
Thanks Alex,
07/17/2012 - 17:27
It was a great event thanks to Vacheron and especially the NYC staff. Your presence would have enhanced the luncheon and dinner! Best regards, Joseph
pure class...but nothing less is expected from VC! Thank you for an
07/16/2012 - 12:45
excellent write up
Thank you!
07/17/2012 - 17:28
You are absolutely correct. It was first class all the way, but with restraint, elegance and a personal touch. Regards, Joseph
Great report, Joseph....
07/16/2012 - 18:43
I'm sorry that I could not stay for the performance that evening. Bill
Thanks Bill,
07/17/2012 - 17:29
It was a pleasure to see you again. I enjoyed YOUR write-up on the Purists as well. Best wishes, Joseph
Thanks Joseph for the report
07/16/2012 - 19:39
I quite envy you for your tour, and having seen the sputnik in real , wow, that is special too :) ! cheers Francois
Re: Thanks Francois,
07/17/2012 - 17:31
The Sputnik watch was a relly interesting piece. I wish the light had been better. Regards, Joseph
Wonderful write-up, but
07/16/2012 - 21:37
YOUR KILLING ME...with that teaser on the Sputnik devil
That was my wrist, but the light was so bad
07/17/2012 - 06:08
that I could not see it very well myself, and I had to give it back too soon.
The Sputnik watch was
07/17/2012 - 17:34
really something. I think I had to pick my jaw off the floor when Serge (the owner) took it off his wrist to pass it around. A real tour de force! The Russian "crew" were very all friendly and great dinner companions. It was interesting to here their views. Regards, Joseph
For those interested a video of the event is available on the VC
07/17/2012 - 13:42
An engaging review...
07/17/2012 - 18:46
Joseph, I found your copy, dovetailed with photographs, compulsive reading. It must have been a wonderful day in so many respects. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to communicate the experience. Much appreciated! We'll have to find you a position in the VC Press Officewink Tony
Thanks Tony,
07/18/2012 - 01:57
I really appreciate your comments. It makes it all worthwhile. The other part of my visit to paris and the Opera Garnier should be done this week. Photos are much better (LOL) Best, Joseph
So good to see fellow Loungers indulge in the passion we all share
07/17/2012 - 21:52
By reading reports of those who attend these wonderful events I feel as though I were in attendance myself. THANK YOU, Joseph
You're most welcome, Radek.
07/18/2012 - 01:59
I'm looking to sharing an event with you, likely the SIHH. It will be here "soon". BTW, a very nice write-up in the Hour Club! Warm regards, Joseph
Thank you, JB! (nt)
07/19/2012 - 19:18
.