Vacheron Constantin’s exquisite Métiers d’Art collection continues, this time with the focus on the Legend of the Chinese Zodiac; a series of timepieces based on a 12-year cycle. These watches are expertly enhanced by enamelling and engraving.
China, a land from which Vacheron Constantin first began establishing a trust-based relationship from 1845 onwards, is famous for the invention of paper and the introduction of the art of paper-cutting or Jianzhi. This technique appears on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list and is echoed in Scherenschnitt, the popular art of paper-cutting born in the Pays d’Enhaut region of Switzerland. Sculpted in paper according to the principles of Jianzhi, the animals of the Chinese zodiac provide a demonstration of the art of using full and empty spaces.
Engravers and enamellers at Vacheron Constantin worked on this Year of the Horse model, which falls in 2014. It’s crafted in pink gold or platinum and limited to 12 pieces each, reserved for exclusively Vacheron Constantin Boutiques.
The leaf motif, stemming from classic Chinese iconography, is directly engraved in the gold dial. The pattern remains semi-embedded and stands out from its gold base by a subtle stage-setting of variously accentuated reliefs creating a depth effect. The raised bamboo stalks appear to be floating over the dial.
With the horse engraving, on which the details of the mane and coat measure a mere fraction of a millimetre, the artisan provides a tangible expression of the artistic vision behind this creation.
Then comes the stage of Grand Feu enamelling, a technique invented in Geneva. By applying the enamel in successive layers, the enamel specialist further enhances the visual intensity of the coloured dial. The necessity of maintaining tight control of the colour and the reactions to the firing process that takes place in a kiln at around 800 to 900°C calls for precise judgement. A final layer of enamel is then applied before a final firing operation that vitrifies the dial and lends a shiny glazed effect that gives added definition to the floral motif. The horse is delicately applied to the centre of the dial, poised as if ready to gallop through the sapphire crystal and thus creating a truly striking effect.
The watches are powered by calibre 2460 G4. The watch display is hands-free display of time. Instead four windows respectively reveal the hour, the minutes, the day and the date. The first two indications are of the dragging kind and the last two of the jumping type, and each appears through one of the four apertures arranged around the central dial motif.
Beating at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour, the mechanical self-winding movement is equipped with a 22-carat gold oscillating weight adorned with a dynamic geometrical motif inspired by the shape of the Maltese Cross, the famous logo of the maison.
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