Source: Images and content by Vacheron Constantinhttp://content.presspage.com/uploads/1999/500_vac-lescabinotiersseahorse-6007c-000r-056c-sdt.jpg?10000
- A new themed range from the Les Cabinotiers department, a tribute to the world of the sea and its accompanying mythology.
- Four artistic crafts at work: guilloché, engraving, enamelling and gem-setting
- A bezel set with a subtle colour gradient of sapphires, ranging from intense blue to a slightly lighter shade.
- A single-piece edition driven by Calibre 2160, an ultra-thin self-winding tourbillon movement developed and crafted by Vacheron Constantin
Geneva, 30 March 2022 – Vacheron Constantin offers a deep-sea dive to discover the sea horse and its mysteries. At the heart of this immersion is a dial combining various traditional artistic crafts. Concealed in the ocean fauna, the sea horse is made of cloisonné enamel with gem-set fins against a partially guilloché dial background. The case and lugs have been trimmed to accommodate the bezel set in a sapphire colour gradient. This single-piece edition is powered by Calibre 2160, an ultra-thin self-winding tourbillon movement developed and crafted by Vacheron Constantin.
At the heart of the “Les Royaumes Aquatiques®” range, the figurative theme chosen by Vacheron Constantin in 2022 for its Les Cabinotiers single-piece editions, the sea horse finds its natural place in this maritime hall of fame. A mysterious animal clad in insect-like armour and endowed with a prehensile tail like that of a monkey, it swims only vertically, with its head and horse-like snout pointing forward. Its natural habitat is on the seabed, amid fields of algae and seagrass meadows, which is precisely where Vacheron Constantin has decided to depict it on the dial of its Les Cabinotiers Tourbillon jewellery – Sea Horse watch.
This creation by the Manufacture’s master artisans combines the techniques of guilloché, engraving, enamelling and gem-setting to make this piece an anthem to the splendours of the ocean and a tribute to the year’s “The Anatomy of Beauty” theme, within which overall harmony is born of attention to detail. Measuring 39 mm in diameter and graced with a bezel set with a subtle sapphire gradient, the 18K 5N pink gold case houses in-house Calibre 2160, a tourbillon movement distinguished by its slimness despite its self-winding system.
Mise en abyme
In order to give depth to the dial in a way other than through vanishing lines or a multi-level construction, the master artisans combined guilloché, engraving, enamelling and gem-setting techniques. First, the 3N yellow gold dial was marked out in champlevé to determine the areas for the guilloché and engraving, while outlining aquatic decoration and the sea horse. Once the motif had been traced, the cells intended for enamelling were hand-guilloché and engraved, an operation rendered all the delicate by the fact that these surfaces are small and each entirely separate from the others. A first layer of transparent enamel was then applied to the dial, after which the patient cloisonné work could begin. This technique consists of reproducing the contours of the motif with gold wires barely thicker than a sheet of paper (1/10th x 4/10th of a mm). These wires made of 24K fine gold – to avoid any risk of oxidation – had to be cut to the right length, shaped and imperatively include an angle to ensure a better “hold” of the enamel during the firings in the kiln. In addition, each of the cells thus partitioned must be hermetically sealed off in order to avoid colour mixing during firing. Three to four firings were required to obtain the desired colours and the required thickness, “over-glazed” by the master artisan in such a way that, after polishing using the lapping technique, the dial features a perfectly flat surface with the gold wire shines brightly just beneath. The piece is then fired one last time to give the final touch that involves tautening the enamel and erasing any micro-scratches.
To represent the eye of the sea horse, the master gem-setter then secured the sapphire cabochon in place using the bezel (closed) setting technique. The setting continues on the bezel with baguette-cut sapphires in a subtle blue gradient. The result reflects a tireless quest for excellence, whereby the mastery of every deft move and the meticulous care lavished on even the smallest details reveal the anatomy of the watch.
An ultra-thin calibre reflecting a concern for elegance
Presented in a 39 mm diameter perfectly suited to all wrists, the case of the Les Cabinotiers Tourbillon jewellery – Sea Horse watch has been trimmed, as have the lugs, so as to achieve ideal formal harmony. In-house Calibre 2160 matches this concern for elegance while also featuring a self-winding tourbillon regulator. Invented at the beginning of the 19th century to cancel out the effects of gravity on watch movements for the sake of accuracy, the tourbillon appears here in an ultra-thin version, with its carriage housed in a movement barely 5.65 mm thick representing a true technical feat. The slimness of the 188-component Calibre 2160 is notably made possible by the peripheral rotor ensuring a comfortable 80-hour power reserve. The 18K 5N pink gold case enabling the subtle intricacies of the movement to be admired through its sapphire crystal back is only 11.15 mm thick.
The finishing of Calibre 2160 displays the same high level of quality, with each component finished and decorated by hand, testifying to the fascination of Vacheron Constantin movements, whose beauty lies in the meticulous attention to details. The bar of the tourbillon carriage, itself openworked in the shape of the Manufacture’s Maltese cross emblem, is entirely hand-chamfered, as are the mainplate and bridges. On the dial side, the mainplate is circular-grained, while the bridges are adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif on the caseback side. Paired with a dark blue leather strap secured by a folding clasp set with 14 baguette-cut sapphires, this watch issued in a single-piece edition is water-resistant to 30 metres and exercises an inimitable maritime appeal.
“Les Royaumes 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 not 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 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 one-of-a-kind 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.
The Anatomy of Beauty®
Les Cabinotiers Tourbillon jewellery – Sea Horse is a single-piece edition embodying an aesthetic quest in which the smallest details contribute to “The Anatomy of Beauty®” that is Vacheron Constantin’s theme for 2022. Attentiveness to detail is second nature at Vacheron Constantin. 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.
Les Cabinotiers: one-of-a-kind creations
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.
Issued in a single-piece edition, the Les Cabinotiers Tourbillon jewellery – Sea Horse watch illustrates the theme “Les Royaume Aquatiques®” by depicting a sea horse in its natural environment. This masterpiece of miniaturisation calls on four artistic crafts to endow the marine painting with an illusion of depth. Work on the dial begins with tracing the decoration to create the guilloché pattern and engraving the cells, followed by meticulous cloisonné enamelling and ending with setting the eye of the seahorse. Gem-setting continues on the bezel with a subtle gradation of blue sapphires. Housed in a 18K 5N pink gold case measuring 39 mm in diameter, Calibre 2160 developed and crafted by Vacheron Constantin preserves the watch’s elegant curves thanks to its remarkable slimness. A self-winding tourbillon movement equipped with a peripheral rotor to enhance its slenderness, this 188-component mechanical movement operating at a rate of 18,000 vibrations per hour has a profile measuring barely 5.65 mm thick and features extremely meticulous haute horlogerie finishing.
Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin
31 mm diameter, 5.65 mm thick
Approximately 80 hours of power reserve
2.5 Hz (18,000 vibrations/hour)
Hallmark of Geneva certified timepiece
Small second at 6 o’clock on tourbillon carriage
Hours and minutes adjustment: winding crown (2 positions)
18K 5N pink gold hand gem-setting with graduation of 74 baguette-cut sapphires
39 mm diameter, 11.15 mm thick
18K gold with four artistic crafts: hand-guilloché, engraving, hand-cloisonné ennamel and hand gem-setting with 1 sapphire cabochon representing a “Sea horse”
18K 5N pink gold hands
Dark blue Mississippiensis alligator leather, hand-stitched, saddle-finish, large square scales
18K white gold buckle hand gem-setting with 14 baguette-cut sapphires
Half Maltese cross-shaped
Les Cabinotiers model
“Les Cabinotiers”, “Pièce unique”, “AC” hallmark engraved on caseback