Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés collection of limited edition watches looks so elegant. That’s no doubt said that this is a masterpiece of the brand.
The brand used the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés to debut its new cushion-style case from the Vacheron Constantin Harmony collection, for art watches. At 40mm wide and 10.3mm thick, these extremely wearable and masculine cases serve the purpose well and should show up in the future for other generations of Métiers d’Art men’s watches, in addition to serving as the case for Harmony collection models. It feels manly yet a bit different on the wrist, and I think that these types of timepieces really benefit from such a unique case design.
For Vacheron Constantin, the challenge when it comes to art watches is to display a range of craftsmanship on the dial while also telling the time. Vacheron Constantin has played this game before, and often comes up with fantastic solutions that allow for an interesting indication of the time as well as a palette for art. Of course, the traditional solution is to simply have a traditional dial with hands but no hour indicators. This works in some instances, and Vacheron Constantin does this with other timepieces, but at the same time, such a dial design tactic can easily result in extremely poor legibility, as well as an undesired obstruction of the dial art.
Inside the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés is the new Vacheron Constantin in-house made caliber 1120 AT which is just the type of mechanism I like to stand behind. Designed for both convenience and visual interest, the automatic movement displays the time using a satellite system for the hours which drags the current hour indicator over a minute scale. As mentioned in the previous article, this is more or less how most Urwerk watches indicate the time, and sometimes is referred to as a “Star Wheel,” based on some seminal timepieces from Audemars Piguet that use this for wrist watches, even though the concept is much older than that.
With 40 hours of power reserve operating at a unique 19,800 bph, the system is designed to use power efficiently to move all the heavy parts. For the wearer, what is important is the view of the time to the right of the dial. It isn’t the most legible display in the world, given the riches of the dial decoration and decor, but it is pretty good, given the concept. The background of the time display area has Latin text in relief on gold to mimic the look of the historic illuminated texts that the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés watches are based on. Each model has a unique dial, of course, as well a name engraved into the side of the case. Through the rear of the cases, you see the functional yet finely finished movement along with an impressive solid gold and further decorated automatic rotor.
Dial art for the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés collection includes your typical list of techniques which is part of the Métiers d’Art selling point. On these models, you have hand-engraving and various styles of enamel painting. The techniques have been adapted to use these traditional watch dial decorative practices to emulate the look of hand-painted art in ancient books. I also like that despite the dense nature of the rich decoration, the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés watches maintain a solid masculinity to their look.
The detailing is extremely fine, and these really look like pages from the original texts in wrist watch form. Vacheron Constantin is among the few major watch brands in the world able to successfully translate such concepts from idea to completion and make them look fantastic. As amazing as these Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés timepieces are, they are destined to be rare, with only 20 of each of the three models being produced as part of the limited edition.
With that said, if these timepieces do well, a follow-up Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés collection with additional version in the future is certainly a possibility. That would not be without precedent.