The “L’empreiente du Dragon” is like a renaissance man. It is Plato, Galileo, Kant and Newton combined. It is someone who knows everything except nothing.
Any complication that you can think of, save those of striking works, it possesses. Any empty spot on the watch, it decorates. With the “L’empreiente du Dragon”, Vacheron Constantin shouts at the world of horology that it is not only a master of technicalities, but also an artist at heart. Its unparalleled ability to conquer both the engineering complexities and aesthetic intricacies of watchmaking, is testimony of its indisputable status in the horological trinity.
The “L’empreiente du Dragon”, from the brand’s “Métiers d’Art” series, was released in Watches and Wonders 2014 in Hong Kong. It is a unique piece and was sold on the day of its release. Being called the dragon, the watch is an embodiment of auspiciousness and power, especially for the Asian market. The dragon in the Chinese culture has long been a symbol of status and authority. It is the symbol of the Emperor and royalty, representative of their imperial wealth and power.
The “L’empreiente du Dragon” houses the Vacheron Caliber 2253. The 2253 is a masterpiece in every way. It contains 457 parts, and functions like an astronomical watch. It has a tourbillon, perpetual calender, equation of time, sunrise, sunset and power reserve indicator. It is manual winding at 2.5 Hz (18,000 vph). The movement is sized at 32mm diameter (13 lignes) x 9.6mm thick.
Each of its many functions are serious complications on its own, but Vacheron Constantin has put all of these together into just one watch. Special mention goes to its incorporation of a 14 day power reserve, through the use of 4 main springs to power the tourbillon.
The equation of time is another complication on its own. This complication has huge historical significance and is reminiscent of mankind’s quest to understand the world beyond the universe. The equation of time complication measures the difference between true solar time and civil time (mean solar time). There are two reasons for this time difference. Firstly, the earth makes an elliptical orbit around the Sun, secondly, its axis is not entirely perpendicular to the plane of the equator. It tilts at varying degrees on different days throughout the year. Therefore the interval of time between two “noons” when the Sun is at its highest point is never the same day on day.
More than just technical complications, the “L’empreiente du Dragon” is a work of art. The dragon scales that line the 18k pink gold case were engraved by one of the most experienced master engravers working today. Vacheron makes careful selection of this master engraver who was also a “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” winner in 2011. This award is specially reserved for the top craftsmen in France.
The case engraving takes almost 70 hours of dedicated workmanship. The scales are each cut to a depth of 4/10ths of a millimeter and are completely hand engraved. The patterns require great skill and artisanship from the craftsman since he carves directly on a virginal case, without any laser tracing or alignment markings.
No doubt given the size and unique looks of this timepiece, many may find that it looks bling and dodgy. But do bear in mind that it is still the only one of its kind made by Vacheron Constantin, probably highly collectible and may just appear in auctions in the good future.
We are clearly impressed with this piece unique offering from Vacheron Constantin. Tell us what you think.
Captions and additional finishing remarks by Peter Chong.
I love Vacheron’s habit of placing the reserve de marche on the back on some of their complications. Thank you as always for the beautiful photos.