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Vacheron Constantin showcases two centuries of expertise in the decorative arts

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The Maison has always applied the decorative arts of guilloché, gem-setting, engraving, and enamelling to its pieces; perfecting these artisanal techniques as well as their transmission to future generations.

To illustrate this distinctive feature of Vacheron Constantin, a carefully curated selection from the Heritage Collection is on display, paying tribute to this expertise.

18-carat yellow gold pocket watch with polished translucent enamel – 1825

Enamel work, a decorative art that was already used in ancient Greece, is the result of an alchemy involving the fusion of metal and glass. From painted enamel to the fenestrated technique, notably adopted by the Art Nouveau movement, enamelers have continued to develop new methods to create a subtle play of textures.

This pocket watch in the Restoration style (characterized by the contrast between flexibility and sophistication) stands out for its lavish floral ornamentation and expansive friezes. Here, the champlevé technique claims all the attention, involving creating a cavity in the metal to apply enamel powder and then passing the piece through the oven; repeating the process several times before performing a final sanding to remove excess enamel. This way, the decoration emerges brilliantly, outlined by fine contours of precious metal.

The technique is especially enhanced with the outgoing hour indication, thanks to which the master craftsman has had a larger surface to express their creativity.

18-carat yellow gold pocket watch adorned with set gemstones – 1900

Setting is the art of incorporating gemstones into the decoration of a piece. until 1750, gemstones were placed on a metal base and then the base was carved to allow light to pass through the stone and illuminate the setting. However, starting from this date, setting craftsmen developed other methods to enhance the gemstones.

This pocket watch combines this decorative technique with engraving (originally intended to reduce reflections of the sun on polished metal), paying homage to the Art Nouveau style.

Through sparkling light effects and combinations of colors, diamonds, rubies, and noble materials like yellow gold come together to create an impressive and harmonious effect.
the creation date of this piece in the early 20th century coincides with when women began to dress themselves, leading to an evolution in the fashion of the time to achieve greater comfort and freedom of movement.

Yellow gold pocket watch with miniature enamel decoration – 1914

The decorative art of enameling has evolved throughout history, embracing everything from painted enamel to the fenestrated technique, particularly adopted by the Art Nouveau movement. In this particular pocket watch, grand feu enamel is applied, which was created in the 17th century and is the most difficult to master. it’s characterized by using a “flux” (in this case black enamel) to reduce the melting temperature of the enamel powder used.

It features a vegetal and floral decoration on a characteristic oval shape, always posing a challenge for any watchmaker accustomed to working on circles. The geometry represents an egg from which life hatches and aims to convey a feminine form, very common in Art Nouveau.

Pocket watch in rock crystal with skeleton caliber in yellow gold – 1986

At Vacheron Constantin, technical excellence finds its match only in aesthetic exquisiteness and meticulous decoration, which can be appreciated both in the cases of their watches and in the movements. The master craftsmen of this piece, unsatisfied with creating and decorating the case alone, decided to expand their technical expertise and transfer it to the movements, engraving the skeletonized movements.

These details are exemplified in the skeletonization of this watch, exposing its mechanical movement and revealing its heart. Cutting through the solid elements of a mechanical movement without compromising its reliability is an extraordinarily complex task, turning the piece into a true work of art.

Wristwatch for men in platinum Métiers d’Art Mercator – 2001

It’s a tribute to the geographer Gerard Mercator, reproducing the maps of Europe drawn by him in the 16th century on its polychrome grand feu enamel dial, using the cloisonné technique. It features a Caliber 1120 ultra-thin movement that began commercialization in 1967 and encompasses one of the world’s thinnest automatic movements due to its thickness of 2.45 mm. It also features a double retrograde indication of hours and minutes with continuous movement.

The inspiration for this watch lies in the “open-lug” indications typical of the early 20th century, but integrated in a more compact form to fit on the wrist. its compass-shaped retrograde hands were specially designed for this collection, and the placement of their axis at 12 o’clock perfectly evokes the instrument used throughout the life of the cartographer, mathematician, and geographer.

18-carat rose gold men’s wristwatch Métiers d’Art Les Masques Gabon – 2009

In 2007, in collaboration with the Barbier-Mueller Museum, Vacheron Constantin introduced the Métiers d’Art – Les Masques collection, to which this model belongs. The product development team decided to use a transparent dial and a crystal with a special treatment to give the impression that the hand-engraved gold mask was floating above the movement. The Caliber 2460 G4, a Manufacture movement, puts technology at the service of artistic creativity, using discs for the indications, allowing decorative arts to take center stage.


Swiss writer Michel Butor composed the texts reproduced on the sapphire dial with golden letters. The verses have been delicately applied to the case using a special vacuum gold coating technique developed specifically for this collection.

Each sapphire crystal of the mask has a different hue, achieved through a unique metallization process. the tone of the crystal changes depending on the light shining on it, and it’s only possible to read the dedicated poem when the light hits the dial at a certain angle, revealing the spiral of a mysterious message in French.

18-carat white gold men’s wristwatch with diamond setting Kallania – 2009

186 emerald-cut diamonds totaling 170 carats. Thirty years after the Kallista, Vacheron Constantin sets a new world record with the presentation of this watch. It took two years to develop and over a year to gather a sufficient number of flawless quality and color diamonds, with the most difficult aspect being to find the best compromise between wearability and the spectacular nature of the setting.

Additionally, it is equipped with the legendary manual winding 9”’ Caliber 1003 movement from 1955, created to commemorate the bicentenary of the Maison’s founding and to give new impetus to its promotion of ultra-thin models. This movement is barely larger than a 1 euro coin and contains 120 components, continuing to this day as one of the flattest calibers in the world.

Men’s wristwatch Métiers d’Art Les Univers Infinis – 2014

The tools used for guilloché work were first used in the 16th and 18th centuries on softer materials like ivory and wood, and from the 18th century onwards, they were adapted for use on metals like gold and silver within the field of watchmaking. This decorative technique involves using a design, often of an architectural type, utilizing two curved bands that intertwine following a pattern around a central space. For this Métiers d’Art Les Univers Infinis collection, it is combined with other techniques and represents a celebration in honor of the alchemy established between graphic design, decorative arts, and high watchmaking technique.

This particular model is inspired by the repetitive design of patterns
(named tessellation), which was highly appreciated by the famous lithographer M. C. Escher. The dial is a combination of geometry, symbolism, and movement that suggests an infinite juxtaposition of different universes. Lizards reminiscent of one of the lithographs by the Dutch artist dominate the space and evoke a captivating sense of movement.

The decoration of this watch employs four different techniques: engraving, grand feu enamel, gem-setting, and guilloché. the engraver begins by carving the motifs into a base of yellow gold. next, the enameler fills the lizards heading south with a taupe-colored enamel, while those heading west are filled with a carmine red. in turn, the setter selects lizards to adorn them with a suit of brilliant-cut diamonds. Finally, the master of guilloché animates the remaining lizards, displaying their scales, which measure just a few tenths of a millimeter.

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