from press release
At the occasion of its 260th anniversary celebrations, the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin is making a remarkable return to its roots by enriching its Métiers d’Art collection with two timepieces distinguished by movements that are entirely hand-engraved in keeping with classic ornamental watchmaking traditions. The plates and bridges of the hand-wound 2260 and 4400 calibers are adorned with delicate floral motifs, reminiscent of the engravings gracing the first pocket watches created by Vacheron Constantin from 1755 onwards.
While the extremely malleable acanthus leaf motif gives artists from all horizons almost boundless scope for expression, engraving the functional parts of an Haute Horlogerie movement is an astoundingly delicate task. A miniaturised work of art such that only the most virtuoso master-engravers can even begin to envisage, since the extreme slenderness of the parts to be engraved calls for impressive dexterity and expertise in order to reveal a motif without ever damaging the functionality of complex mechanisms.
Eager to magnify two benchmark calibers and to demonstrate the talent of its gifted artisans, the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin made the demanding choice of maintaining the movement composition exactly as usual. This means that no part to be engraved has been made any thicker to facilitate the task of the engraver, who must therefore sculpt surfaces that are less than one millimetre thick. In addition to the supreme challenge of miniaturisation, this infinitely delicate work consists in engraving motifs on parts that have been previously bevelled, straight-grained, circular-grained and polished by the decorative artisans of the Manufacture – since, like all movements developed by Vacheron Constantin, Calibers 2260 and 4400 feature superlative Haute Horlogerie finishes.
Performing the last stage in a remarkable ornamental process, the master engraver works with no safety net, intensely focused and driven by a constant concern to avoid any scratching of the perfectly finished surfaces. Using a tool known as a chisel, he first marks out a line engraving to define the contours of the motif. He then conscientiously removes a certain amount of material using the champlevé technique. This operation that involves hollowing to a depth of 2/10 of a millimetre serves to create a volume effect and brings out the raised motif. With parts sometimes measuring less than 0.35 mm thick, there is a considerable risk of piercing or distorting the metal. Working around the chamfers, the inside of the bridges and plates as well as the jewel holes – which cannot be altered in any way – is a particularly meticulous task. This painstakingly intricate labour of love, entailing more than ten days spent engraving a single caliber, reveals an admirable contrast between the brilliance of the polished motifs and the matt appearance of the other surfaces.
A subtly patinated anthracite colour is finely wrought with a tiny pointed tip, enhancing the volumes and relief effects. In a clever play on light and shade, the Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Gravées models provide an original interpretation of the grand ornamental tradition, imbued with a powerful sense of understated elegance.
Calibre 2260 Featuring a tourbillon and 14 day power reserve
41mm platinum case
39mm platinum case