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- A new themed assortment from the Les Cabinotiers department, a tribute to the world of the sea and its accompanying mythology.
- A single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers timepiece evoking the legend of the Flying Dutchman.
- A dial crafted using a rare technique combining miniature enamel painting and grisaille enamel, offering a ghostly vision of the ship in a stormy sea.
- Calibre 2755 TMR, developed and produced by Vacheron Constantin, equipped with a tourbillon and a minute repeater mechanism.
Geneva, March 30th 2022 – This single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers minute repeater and tourbillon watch was inspired by the Flying Dutchman and his ghost ship. Interpreted on a dial in miniature enamel painting and grisaille enamel, the ship sails into the heart of the storm on raging waves streaked with lightning. In-house developed and produced Manufacture Calibre 2755 TMR is regulated by a one-minute tourbillon and equipped with a minute repeater mechanism.
Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon – Flying Dutchman is a watch inspired by this legend of the seas dating back to the 17th century. Ever since, sailors have continued to spread the tale of this cursed captain who haunts the waves with his crew, a bad omen for anyone who sees his bow in the mist. In Wagner’s opera, the “Dutchman’s Lament” shows a man overcome by his fate: “The grace I seek on land, never shall I find,” he sings. “To you, ocean tides, I shall be true”. Is it really the Dutchman condemned to wander endlessly for having blasphemed God that we can see on the deck of the ship featured in this Les Cabinotiers watch? The strikingly realistic dial of this unique timepiece offers a spectral vision of the ghost ship, plunging through the waves in the middle of a storm. With the sea raging and the waves threatening, lightning streaking across a full moon sky, the stage is set for a dramatic vision of this vessel. It is as if the minute repeater of the watch has been designed to sound the death knell of any sailor crossing its path, in order to drag him into the swirling depths of a mechanical sea.
The full creativity of artistic crafts
The dial is a masterpiece of artistic craftsmanship staging a spectacular show in its own right. To create it, Vacheron Constantin’s master artisan drew on a rarely used technique combining miniature enamel painting and grisaille enamel. The first work harks back to the great days of miniature enamel painting for which Geneva became famous in the 17th century. This technique consists of painting on a layer of opaque white enamel – coated onto to a gold background – with colours made from on powdered metallic oxides to which an oil-based binder is added. The colours are applied with an extremely fine brush like gouache on a canvas, fixed at each stage by a firing in the kiln that requires perfect control of temperatures and times. On this model representing The Flying Dutchman, the scene of the raging sea beneath a leaden sky streaked with lightning had to be “placed” with meticulous care, in such a way as to leave the space devoted to the ship in the shade. A dozen passages in the oven were necessary to achieve this marine painting. The stage ends with the application of a layer of fondant (transparent enamel flux), followed by lapping, a polishing process involving very finely grained stones to achieve a smoothly lustrous surface. The process concludes with a “glazing” firing operation that also gives the enamel a domed appearance. At this point, a miniature enamel-painted part is considered complete.
In the case of Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon – Flying Dutchman watch, the result is however still only a draft version that has yet to be completed by the famous ghost ship. To produce its other-worldly appearance, the artisan has opted for grisaille enamel so as to bring out its silhouette in a play of light and shade. This technique consists of applying successively fired thin layers of white or Limoges white enamel that amplifies the motif as they are superimposed. It is also extremely important to manage the temperatures and firing times, given that this white enamel melts at a temperature about 40° Celsius lower than the enamels of the underlying miniature painting – a fact that prevents the latter from being altered – and that it takes no more than a few seconds to fix it in place. This second step in crafting the dial, which also requires about ten firings in the kiln, is all the more delicate in that it is done on the basis of a finished painting. Any wrong move would risk destroying the two months of work devoted to this horological masterpiece, a rare expression of immense mastery in the realm of artistic crafts.
A Grand Complication Manufacture movement, Calibre 2755 TMR
This single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers watch is powered by the 471-component minute repeater and tourbillon Calibre 2755 TMR. Derived from Calibre 2755, Vacheron Constantin’s signature movement for Grand Complication models, this manual-winding version is equipped with a one-minute tourbillon, beating at 18,000 vibrations per hour (2.5 Hz) and endowed with a 58-hour power reserve displayed on the back. The mechanism is complemented by a minute repeater serving to sound the time on demand. To create this particularly complex chiming mechanism, which is controlled by a sliding bolt on the bezel, Vacheron Constantin’s engineers and master watchmakers drew inspiration from the work done on the 2005 La Tour de l’Île anniversary watch, and its strike governor in particular. This system enables the duration of the musical sequences to be perfectly timed so as to achieve a distinct and harmonious sound of the notes playing the hours, quarters and minutes by hammers striking two circular gongs. The model is thus equipped with a perfectly silent centripetal flywheel strike governor that avoids any undue wear on the mechanism.
Calibre 2755 TMR features Fine Watchmaking finishes including meticulous hand-bevelling of the bridges adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif, circular-graining of the baseplate and rounding off applied to the tourbillon carriage bars. The fact that each part composing the movement is hand-finished and decorated – whatever its place within the mechanism and even when hidden from sight – demonstrates the same meticulous care displayed on the dial and representing an integral part of Vacheron Constantin’s signature aesthetic quest in which overall beauty and harmony stems from the attention lavished on even the smallest details. Calibre 2755 TMR is housed in a 18K white gold case measuring 45 mm in diameter and 13.52 mm thick and fitted with a dark blue alligator leather strap secured by a white gold folding clasp.
“Les Royaume Aquatiques®”
“Les Royaumes Aquatiques®” (aquatic kingdoms) evoke the wonderful world of the sea and its accompanying mythology. Since time immemorial, civilisations have venerated the elements composing the universe, including water personified by the gods of the sea and the oceans. Within this context, Poseidon, brother of Zeus and ruler of the seas, stands out with his trident as the symbol of this indomitable nature. He is however alone in reigning over the tumultuous waves. In the same spirit, the ocean is filled with mysterious creatures, Nereids, Naiads or Sirens who are at times nymphs and at others frightening creatures that appear to sailors, who are always quick to spread sea legends. That of the Flying Dutchman, celebrated by Wagner, refers to the era of the conquest of the oceans, of buccaneering and the daring deeds of Blackbeard.
Despite scientific exploration, the mystery of the seas has not vanished. The ocean floor remains virtually unexplored and largely uncharted. Dives into the ocean abyss have revealed unknown species, which nurture myths like that of a colossal squid lurking at the bottom of the sea. The oceans – which cover nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s surface, are home to the majority of living species and regulate more than 80° of the Earth’s climate – and remain a vast expanse that has not yet revealed all its secrets. The enigmatic aspect of the seven seas and the fabulous creatures that inhabit them remain a source of genuine fascination across the ages. A source of inspiration for poets, an obsession among explorers, a pipe dream for fabulists or a treasure trove for naturalists… the sea has also nurtured the creations of Vacheron Constantin, which this year has chosen “Les Royaumes Aquatiques®” as the theme for its single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers timepieces.
Vacheron Constantin and the sea
Marine life has been a rich source of inspiration throughout the history of Vacheron Constantin. A world that is inseparable from sailing, whether on lakes or the high seas. From the mid-19th century onwards, specially commissioned pieces adorned with miniature enamel paintings or engravings began to be crafted, demonstrating a strong attachment to the world of the sea and its natural or legendary creatures. Lake landscapes and boats with lateen sails, brigantines at anchor, dolphins, sea dragons and mermaids are among the themes chosen for these pocket watches. Great attention has also been devoted to technical aspects. Renowned for its precision “instruments”, Vacheron Constantin delivered marine chronometers to several army corps in the early 20th century, knowing that this equipment was indispensable for calculating longitude at sea. More fanciful yet still radiating a maritime aura, some of the desk chronometers made by the Maison in the 1940s were shaped like rudders, while one of the models of the famous 1937 “Bras en l’air” (arms in the air) pocket watch, displaying the hours and minutes on demand, is named “La Caravelle” with its engraved and gem-set motif. For the 1996 launch of the Overseas line, Vacheron Constantin also drew inspiration from the name of this new collection evoking the spirit of travel across oceans. The caseback is thus meticulously engraved with a caravel skippered by the famous explorer Amerigo Vespucci in his quest to discover the New World.
With its Métiers d’art collection, which appeared in the early 2000s, Vacheron Constantin has revived naturalist themes related to water and its fauna and flora in an approach celebrating decorative techniques. In 2011, the Manufacture presented the second series of three Métiers d’art – La Symbolique des Laques watches featuring the aquatic world thanks to Maki-e: an ancient traditional Japanese technique that consists of sprinkling gold or silver dust on still wet lacquer, usually black, to create the motif. These watches feature the turtle, the frog and the carp, embodiments of longevity, luck and strength in Far Eastern animal symbolism. A year later, it was the turn of the Métiers d’art – Les Univers Infinis series to pick up the theme of water, this time interpreted according to the graphic expression of Dutch artist Cornelis Escher. The Fish watch featuring guilloché and cloisonné enamel and the Shell watch with engraving and champlevé enamel reflect the same sensitivity to naturalist decorations, based on a resolutely contemporary approach.
Les Cabinotiers: single-piece editions
In the Vacheron Constantin universe, Les Cabinotiers represents a department in its own right dedicated to the personalisation of models and to unique creations. This tradition dates back to the 18th century, a time when master watchmakers were called cabinotiers and worked in ateliers bathed in natural light, known as cabinets and located on the top floors of Geneva’s buildings. In the hands of these learned artisans, open to the new ideas of the Enlightenment, exceptional timepieces were born, inspired by astronomy, mechanical engineering and the arts. This expertise, which constitutes the great Geneva watchmaking tradition, has been flowing through Vacheron Constantin’s veins since 1755.
The Anatomy of Beauty®[LC(C1]
Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon – Flying Dutchman watch perfectly fits Vacheron Constantin’s annual theme “The Anatomy of Beauty®[LC(C2] ” which celebrates the Maison’s attentiveness to detail. This extraordinarily painstaking care is expressed through the designers’ aesthetic choices and preferences as well as in the meticulous finishing work performed by the artisans. All the components of a Vacheron Constantin watch benefit from this scrupulous attention, even those that remain invisible once the movement has been assembled. A keen eye will note the fine guilloché work on a dial or the gem-set minutes track; it will make out the contours of the Maison’s Maltese cross emblem on the links of a bracelet; it will notice the small flame-blued screw serving as a seconds indicator on a tourbillon carriage and the mirror polish of a minute-repeater hammer; it will appreciate the artisans’ delicate touch when chamfering a plate or rounding off a bridge; and finally, it will admire the miniature enamel painting depicting a ship tossed around by a stormy sea streaked with lightning. At Vacheron Constantin, concern for detail delicately shapes an anatomy of beauty in which nothing is left to chance.
The single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers Minute repeater tourbillon – Flying Dutchman watch, which enriches the “Les Royaumes Aquatiques®” theme chosen by Vacheron Constantin in 2022, pays tribute to the legend of this cursed captain who, among other things, inspired an opera by Wagner. The ghost ship of the Flying Dutchman in the middle of a storm is depicted on the watch dial, a masterpiece created using a rare enamelling technique. To reproduce the raging sea under a lightning-streaked full moon sky, the master artist created the scene in miniature painting, reflecting the grand tradition of 17th and 18th century “Geneva enamels”. The ghostly appearance of the ship is then added in grisaille enamel in a play on light and shade that perfectly translates the phantasmagorical universe of the legend. This timepiece is driven by the 471-component minute repeater and tourbillon Calibre 2755 TMR, developed and produced by Vacheron Constantin. Derived from Calibre 2755, the Maison’s signature movement for Grand Complication models, this manual-winding version is equipped with a one-minute tourbillon, beating at a rate of 18,000 vibrations per hour (2.5 Hz) and endowed with a 58-hour power reserve displayed on the back. The mechanism is complemented by a minute repeater serving to chime the time on demand.
Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin
33.9 mm diameter, 7.1 mm thick
Approximately 58 hours of power reserve
2.5Hz (18,000 vibrations/hour)
Hallmark of Geneva
Small second at 6 o’clock on tourbillon carriage
Minute repeater, tourbillon and power-reserve indication on the case-back side
Hours and minutes adjustment: winding crown (2 positions)
18K white gold with case
45 mm diameter, 13.52 mm thick
18K gold covered with “Grand Feu” miniature enamelling and grisaille enamelling representing a “Flying Dutchman”
18K white gold hands
Dark blue Mississippiensis alligator leather, hand-stitched, saddle-finish, large square scales
18K white gold folding clasp
Polished half Maltese cross-shaped
Les Cabinotiers model
“Les Cabinotiers”, “Pièce unique”, “AC” hallmark engraved on caseback