When a luxury house believes that Art professions represent the richness of past heritage but also the future of creations, then we reach the sublime. We cannot talk about a product but about a masterpiece.
Vacheron Constantin launches this year the second chapter of their collection called Les Métiers d’Art – La Symbolique des Lacques. In the Horlogerie industry some brands are purely fashionable, others are considered as Watch makers and others, like Vacheron Constantin cannot be described. They are out of the frame. Between the sublime and the technical mastery, Vacheron Constantin is a unique swiss story. Vacheron Constantin was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1755 by Jean-Marc Vacheron. This makes it the oldest watch manufacturer in the world with an uninterrupted history. Besides being a young businessman, Vacheron was also a talented craftsman. In 1770 his company created the first complication, and nine years later he designed the first engine-turned dials.
By the age of 20, he was already a multi-talented watchmaker and had developed many diverse interests. After completing his apprenticeship, he found his way into the elite circle of Geneva’s cabinotiers. But he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the contemplative existence of acabinotier, so he opened a watch atelier of his own on 17. September 1755 in the old city of Geneva, the so-calledCite, where he employed one or perhaps even two apprentices. His timepieces naturally bore the name “Jean-Marc Vacheron”. At that time he was 24 years old and was one of many cabinotiers-watchmakers who specialized in the production of certain components, selling them to so-called etablisseurs. The watchmakers were called cabinotiers in honor of the well-lit cabinets on the top floors of the houses in Geneva’s Saint-Gervais neighborhood where they worked.
In the 19th century, the grandson of the founder, Jean-Jacques Vacheron, found a business partner in order to develop the company interests overseas. It was the arrival of François Constantin. The company was then renamed as Vacheron & Constantin. The 19th century also saw the arrival of Georges-Auguste Leschot, head of production and innovation. He leaded all the greatest inventions for the luxury house. He was the one who standardize a movement into a caliber. The 20th century brought the first Store of the Brand in 1906. This store can be seen today on Quai de l’Ile. In the 70’s the company dropped the “&” and named themselves Vacheron Constantin. Then in 1996, the entire capital went to the Richemont Group. Today, Vacheron Constantin produces around 20,000 Timepieces a year.
The new collection is called Les Métiers d’Art – La Symbolique des Lacques. This series is composed of 20 sets of 3 Timepieces limited edition. Each Timepiece reveals a special motif chosen for the dial. These motifs were made with the japanese art form called maki-e. This is an ancient japanese traditional lacquering technique.
The technique was developed mainly in the Heian Period (794–1185) and blossomed in the Edo Period (1603–1868). Maki-e objects were initially designed as household items for court nobles, they soon gained more popularity and were adopted by royal families and military leaders as an indication of power. To create different colours and textures, maki-e artists use a variety of metal powders including gold, silver, copper, brass, lead, aluminum, platinum, pewter, as well as their alloys. Bamboo tubes and soft brushes of various sizes are used for laying powders and drawing fine lines. As it requires highly-skilled craftsmanship to produce a maki-e painting, young artists usually go through many years of training to develop the skills and to ultimately become maki-e masters.
Vacheron Constantin dresses its magnificent ultra-thin 1003 caliber.
La Symbolique des Laques “Kame Kaéru Koi” – Carp & Waterfall
Specificity: Black Maki-e lacquer “Carp & Waterfall” on both sides. Symbolizes perseverence and strength in Japan. The case is made in 18K white gold. The Case has a transparent case-back with sapphire glass. The stripe is in alligator.
La Symbolique des Laques “Kame Kaéru Koi” – Frog & Hydrangea
Specificity: Black Maki-e lacquer “Frog & Hydrangea”. Symbolizes luck and patience in Japan. The case is made in 18K 4N Pink gold. The Case also has a transparent case-back with sapphire glass. The elegant stripe is made in alligator.
La Symbolique des Laques “Kame Kaéru Koi” – Turtle & Lotus
Specificity: Black Maki-e lacquer “Turtle & Lotus”. Symbolizes longevity and purity in Japan. The case is made in 18K 4N pink gold. As the other 2 editions, the case-back is with sapphire glass and the strip in alligator.
They are very limited editions with only 20 sets containing the 3 Timepieces. At these level of artistic execution, we could say that our time is well keeped. LA
sources: wikipedia and Vacheron Constantin. All images reserved.