Vacheron Constantin’s new Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection features dials draped with an enamel base. Its pictures depict a bird’s-eye view miniature tableau of urban cities brightly lit across the night skies. Collaborating with Japanese artist Yoko Imai, well-known for her calligraphy-inspired painting on canvas, Vacheron Constantin releases three special models of three special cities, namely Geneva, Paris and New York.
Much of modern artisanal timepieces are enamored with micro art; from painted dials to hand engraving, to even micro-paintings. But arguably, no one does it better than Vacheron Constantin. The new Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection features a new enamel art form unique to fine watchmaking. The end product, an inspiring dial achieved through traditional Grand Feu champlevé enamelling with handapplied precious powder.
The Maison has dreamed up a sparkling encounter between two exceptional arts: Grand Feu champlevé enamelling, a skill passed on for almost three centuries by the Vacheron Constantin artisans; and hand-applied precious powder, a technique mastered by Japanese guest artist Yoko Imai. This is the very first time that this technique has been used on a watch dial to which particles of gold, pearl, platinum and diamond powder are meticulously distilled one by one, endowing the enamel with exceptional radiance.
The dial captures the light effects of urban landscapes and paints out strikingly realistic roads, rivers and famous landmarks. The first three models in this new collection are dedicated to the nocturnal magic of Geneva, Paris and New York. This night-flight will soon continue over other cities.
For each of the dials, the Vacheron Constantin master enameller first examined the possibilities afforded by champlevé in order to highlight the shapes of the streets, gardens and stretches of water. After hollowing out the gold dial by hand according to the chosen outlines, he then applied successive layers of translucent coloured enamels.
Between each coating, the dial is fired at the extremely high temperature of 850°C. These crucial and delicate stages, masterfully guided by intuition and governed by stringent discipline acquired over time, enable the powdered glass mixed with colouring oxides to be melted, transformed and then vitrified by cooling – with the inevitable risk that the dial may crack or flaws may form.
Vacheron Constantin invited the Japanese artist Yoko Imai to associate her art with that of the enamelling artisan. Trained by the great Japanese masters, she has developed her own artistic technique: calligraphy-inspired painting on canvas, inspired by precious powder. For Vacheron Constantin, she has for the first time adapted this process to the enamel of a watch dial, while creating a fascinating chiaroscuro effect.
Using a thin stylus, the powder particles are individually affixed using a technique that remains a jealously guarded secret. The luminous magic of the completed tableau depends on this extremely rigorous approach: each fragment is perfectly positioned in its rightful place and there is no room for anything random or superfluous. Each of the powder specks is thus chosen according to its size and its shimmer, then worked on from several angles and with various types of light, so as to ensure enhanced radiance and realism. The particles of precious powder, all of varying shades and degree of luminosity, interact both amongst themselves and with the dark shades of the Grand Feu enamelled background. The radiance of the composition is more intense in the dial centre and gradually softens towards the outer edges of the dial.
The Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection is a horological and artistic creation in keeping with the purest Vacheron Constantin traditions. Its striking dials, like authentic miniature tableaus, offer an original view of fascinating urban landscapes. With this collection, Vacheron Constantin has indeed taken the art of dial decoration through a new age of renaissance.
Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières
References 86222/000G-B101 – Geneva 86222/000G-B104 – Paris 86222/000G-B105 – New York
Hallmark of Geneva certified timepieces Only available in Vacheron Constantin Boutiques
Calibre 2460 SC Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin
Mechanical, self-winding 26.2 mm (11’’’1/4) diameter 3.6 mm thick
Approximately 40 hours of power reserve
4 Hz (28,800 vibrations/hour) 182 components 27 jewels
Indications Hours, minutes and center seconds
Case 18K white gold 40 mm diameter, 8.9 mm thick
Transparent sapphire crystal caseback
Water-resistance tested at a pressure of 3 bar (approx. 30 meters)
Dial 18K gold dial with Grand Feu champlevé & translucent enamel and powder of precious stones (diamonds, pearl) & precious metal (gold, platinum) filled by hand
Strap Black Mississippiensis alligator leather with alligator inner shell, large square scales
Buckle 18K white gold buckle Polished half Maltese cross-shaped
Presentation box Luxury model
Accessory Delivered with a magnifying glass
Numbered limited production with the name of the city engraved on the back of the timepiece