The Chinese Zodiac, or 生肖 Shēngxiào can be literally translated “birth likeness”. It is closely intertwined with geomancy and western astrology. It is a scheme and systematic plan of future action that relates each year to an animal and contains a 12-year cycle. These animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. It remains popular today in several East Asian countries including China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan.
As ‘luck’ would have it, 2015 is the year of the Goat. To commemorate this cycle, Vacheron Constantin reveals its Chinese Zodiac Year of the Goat from its Metiers D’art collection. True to its artisanship, Vacheron Constantin captivates us once more with the life-like hand engraved dial. Most amazing is the verisimilitude of the animal’s eyes, which embodies a story of its own.
Vacheron Constantin’s approach is very different from some other brands like the Ulysse Nardin Classico covered yesterday by Nick. The most significant is the use of digital time and calendar display, instead of analog. Functionally, it creates more space between the dial and the crystal, which allows a heightened 3D mini sculpture of the zodiac animal to be handcrafted on the dial. Aesthetically, it throws emphasis on the art rather than time keeping, centering the goat in the middle of the dial set to an elaborate background. Although the overall effect is artistic and keeps to the Metiers D’art spirit, we find that the watch feels confused, stuck in the liminal stage of neither modern nor traditional, neither fully art nor fully watch. Unless, that can be justified as originality in style which we don’t see as a problem, since style is beauty in the eyes of the beholder.
The leaf motif appearing on the dial and stemming from classic Chinese iconography, is etched directly in the metal. 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 honeysuckle flowers appear to be floating over the dial. With the goat engraving, on which the details of the fleece 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 and which remains the exclusive preserve of a rare breed of artisans. By applying the enamel in successive layers, the enamel specialist further enhances the visual intensity of the bronze-toned dial.
Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac collection owes its superb scope for expressing the decorative arts notably to Calibre 2460 G4. In keeping with its longstanding tradition of offering a broad variety of original displays, Vacheron Constantin perpetuates the art of watchmaking by providing a hands-free display of time. It does so through four windows respectively revealing 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 historical House emblem.
If pit against the likes of other zodiac watches, this Vacheron piece is quite formidable. Its beauty is in its subtlety. The choice of warm glow colours, a still goat with the most neutral of posture, with the focus on its fleece, and the character of its pupil; coupled with daringness in digital time display and ingenuity of the movement command our respect for the brand once again. It is indeed a master of subtleties, a bastion of art.
Priced at €104,100 and €85,700 for Platinum and Rose Gold respectively.
- Reference: 86073/000P-9890
- Shape: Round
- Diameter (mm): 40.00
- Thickness (mm): 12.74
- Material of the case: platinum 950
- Material of the dial: 18K white gold , platinum 950 and Palladium
- Water-resistance (bar): 3
- Watch strap material: alligator Mississippiensis
- Watch strap color: dark blue
- Type of buckle: Deployant buckle
- Buckle material: platinum 950
- Limited edition of 12 pieces
Calibre 2460 Specifications
- Reference: 2460 G4
- Energy: automatic
- Thickness (mm): 6.05
- Diameter (mm): 31.00 (11”’ ¼)
- Number of parts: 237
- Number of jewels: 27
- Frequency: 4 Hz ( 28,800 v.p.h )
- Power-reserve (hours): 40 approx.
- Indication: day of the week in aperture, date in aperture, minutes by aperture, hours by aperture
- Certification: Hallmark of Geneva