Vacheron Constantin have always impressed with their Métiers d’Art watches. And although this author normally does not like pictures, however beautifully made, on the dial of his watches, it is without any embarrassment to say that he is a little smitten by the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés collection showed at the Watches & Wonders 2015.
The collection is inspired by the Aberdeen Bestiary, a rare 12th century manuscript which have been conserved in the library of Aberdeen University in Scotland. A Bestiary is a collection of short descriptions about all sorts of animals, real and imaginary, birds and even rocks, accompanied by a moralising explanation. Although it deals with the natural world it was never meant to be a scientific text and should not be read as such. Some observations may be quite accurate but they are given the same weight as totally fabulous accounts. The Aberdeen Bestiary is a magnificent tome and regarded as one of the best of its kind.
VC used the illustration and pays tribute to the miniature art, and applies them to a watch. Three watches were introduced with three symbolic creatures from the Aberdeen Bestiary. The Caper, the Altion, and the Vultures.
The Caper is shown above. Caper is latin for goat, and the image of the goat in the roundel, scratching his head with his hind leg. The caper is associated with the earth, and VC describes it as a creature with a piercing gaze, symbolizing exceptionally sound judgement.
The Altion, latin for halycon, a seabird. Shown to be be depositing its eggs in mid-Winter. In the midst of the harshest conditions. VC describes this to symbolize serenity, in accordance to the Bestiary texts.
The Vultures were depicted looking like eagles, as the Bestiary illustrators did not know what they look like and used the image of eagles. The text from the Bestiary translates to, “The female vulture gives birth without copulation, like the Virgin Mary. Vultures know when death is near. The immaculate conception is a fantasy but it is likely that vultures live for a long time since they produce few eggs and breed infrequently.” And VC associates them to symbolize longevity.
The dial is made with miniature enamelling and champlevé enamelling techniques.The raised, polished letters on th elower dial stand out against the finely grained background to create a beautiful gold leaf effect. The Vacheron Constantin logo seems to hover over the entire piece of art.
The magnificent two layered dial is cased in a cushion shaped case, in 18k white gold, each limited to 20 pieces. The Ultra-thin self-winding Caliber 1120AT drives a dragging display of the hours that slide from top to bottom of the dial.
The creatures are remarkably well chosen, and it is wise of VC to associate characteristics which each of the creatures symbolize. The mythical aspect comes through in the beautiful implementation, with enamelling and champlevé enamelling techniques making the illustrations jump out. The work is very fine and detailed. The watch is encased in a cushion case, and equipped with an ultra thin movement, the 1120 AT, with the sliding hours. Each of the three creatures are made in a limited edition of 20 pieces, and given the beauty of this series, we are sure VC will take more creatures from the leaves of the Aberdeen Bestiary and present us with more magnificent Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés in the near future.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés Specifications
Reference: 7000S/000G-B001, 7000S/000G-B002, 7000S/000G-B003
Size (mm): 40.00 x 49.45
Thickness (mm): 10.3
Material of the case: 18K white gold
Water-resistance (bar): 3 Informations
Watch strap material: alligator Mississippiensis
Watch strap color: dark brown
Type of buckle: Deployant buckle
Buckle material: 18K white gold
Limited edition of 20 pieces
Reference: 1120 AT
Thickness (mm): 5.45
Diameter (mm): 32.80 (12”’ ½)
Number of parts: 205
Number of jewels: 36
Frequency: 2.75 Hz ( 19,800 v.p.h )
Power-reserve (hours): 40 approx.
Indication: minutes, hours
Certification: Hallmark of Geneva