Time, in its relentless march, often brings us moments of unbridled creativity and artistry. Vacheron Constantin, a name synonymous with horological excellence, has recently unveiled a new timepiece of its “Les Cabinotiers – Récits de Voyages” range: the “Grisaille High Jewellery – Dragon” which stands as a beacon of the brand’s artistic and technical prowess.
Vacheron Constantin’s journey into the heart of timekeeping has always been intertwined with its geographical expansion, especially in Asia. The Maison’s initial foray into the Chinese market in the mid-19th century marked the beginning of an enduring relationship, which is beautifully encapsulated in their latest creation: the Les Cabinotiers “Grisaille High Jewellery – Dragon” watch. This piece, a first in many regards for Vacheron Constantin, showcases a stunning green grisaille enamel dial, an artistic backdrop for the imperial five-clawed dragon, a symbol deeply rooted in Chinese culture.
The technique of grisaille, dating back to the 16th century, is a marvel of enamel artistry. Vacheron Constantin’s master artisans have taken this age-old practice to new heights. By layering rare white enamel, known as Limoges white, on a dark base and meticulously firing each layer, they bring the mythical dragon to life in exquisite detail. The choice of green tint for the translucent enamel is a first for the Maison, adding a mythical aura to the piece. This artistic endeavor is complemented by a lavish setting of 146 baguette-cut diamonds adorning the 18K white gold case, further enhancing the visual spectacle.
The heart of this artistic masterpiece is the legendary ultra-thin Calibre 1120. This movement, a paragon of Vacheron Constantin’s quest for slimness, embodies the elegance and sophistication that the brand is renowned for. Measuring just 2.45 mm in thickness, the Calibre 1120, redesigned with an 18K gold oscillating weight and boasting a 40-hour power reserve, is a marvel of modern watchmaking. The meticulous attention to detail, from the Côtes de Genève motif to the finely chamfered components, reflects the brand’s commitment to horological excellence.
Les “Cabinotiers – Récits de Voyages” series is not just a collection of timepieces; it is a journey through time and across continents. It celebrates Vacheron Constantin’s global vision, a vision that began in the early 19th century and has since taken its exquisite creations to every corner of the world. This collection is a tribute to the founders’ spirit of exploration, showcasing the Maison’s ability to blend artistic crafts with mechanical ingenuity.
Christian Selmoni, Style & Heritage Director at Vacheron Constantin, sheds light on the brand’s expertise in ultra-thin movements. “Ultra-thin calibres require just as much talent and expertise, as demonstrated by Vacheron Constantin since its origins. As far back as the early 19th century, correspondence between the Maison’s directors clearly referred to “thin watches“. This quest for slimness became a Vacheron Constantin signature throughout the 20th century,” he said. “As exemplified by a pocket watch unveiled in 1931 with a mechanical manual-winding movement measuring 17 5/12 lignes or 39.20 mm in diameter and barely 0.94 mm thick. Calibre 1003, presented in 1955 to celebrate the Maison’s 200th anniversary; as well as Calibre 1120, which appeared 13 years later and is featured in the Les Cabinotiers Grisaille High Jewellery – Dragon watch, are part of this trend towards ultra-thin,” he added. The brand’s mastery over combining different artistic crafts is also evident in their latest offerings, particularly in the way they have married grisaille enamel with gemsetting to create something truly unique.
Vacheron Constantin’s bond with China is not just a business relationship; it is a deep, culturally enriched association that dates back to the mid-19th century. The brand’s involvement in significant cultural events, like the “Geneva at the Heart of Time” exhibition in Beijing, highlights its commitment to and appreciation for Chinese culture and craftsmanship.
The single-piece Les Cabinotiers “Grisaille High Jewellery – Dragon” stands as a shining example of what happens when art meets time, and when a watchmaker not only tells time but also tells a story.
© Photos: Vacheron Constantin