Titled Les Cabinotiers Récits De Voyages, this collection of watches honors the art of different cultures across the world.
January 31, 2024: Minute, detailed work has always been Vacheron Constantin’s forte. But this range of new timepieces exemplify the skills of this watch brand – whether it’s through their calibres or metallurgy or the intricate carvings on a dial so tiny.
Vacheron Constantin’s Les Récits de Voyages, a collection of one-of-a-kind Les Cabinotiers timepieces, moves from China to Abu Dhabi to New York to offer miniature pieces of art and technical mastery for the wrist.
This collection, dedicated to the brand’s international expansion that began in the 19th century, celebrates the successive stages of this odyssey.
Les Cabinotiers Grisaille High Jewellery – Dragon pays tribute to China, a country whose trade with Vacheron Constantin dates back to 1845. On the dial of this watch, featuring a five-clawed imperial dragon and its pearl, the master artisan has created a motif in green grisaille enamel, a first for the Manufacture, another first being the gemsetting of a model with a grisaille enamel dial.
The case of this timepiece is entirely set with 146 baguette-cut diamonds on the bezel, middle and lugs, while a brilliant-cut diamond adorns the crown. The watch is powered by self-winding Calibre 1120, a legendary movement distinguished by its extreme 2.45 mm thinness and its aesthetically pleasing construction. It is housed in a white gold case measuring 40 mm in diameter and 8.9 mm thick, paired with a dark green alligator leather strap secured by a gemset white gold pin buckle.
The single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers Armillary tourbillon – Tribute to Art Deco style watch represents the Americas. These new territories became part of the Vacheron Constantin world at a very early stage, with the first contacts made in the United States in 1832, followed by Brazil in 1835 and Mexico ten years later. This highly technical timepiece, measuring 45 mm in diameter, is powered by Calibre 1990 – which displays the hours and minutes by means of bi-retrograde instant-return hands and the small seconds on the dual-axis armillary tourbillon.
This in-house movement features an open architecture conducive to the finishing, engraving and guilloché work. Several engraving techniques are used on this timepiece: the case middle and lugs, along with the movement components, mainplate and bridges, have been delicately sculpted in bas-relief, as well as guilloche-worked chased and rounded off by hand.
On the back, the three engraved bridges feature a motif reminiscent of the decorations on New York skyscrapers at the turn of the 20th century, with the added challenge of creating an uninterrupted pattern despite the break between the bridges. The watch is rounded off with a black alligator leather strap.
The single-piece Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon – Tribute to Haussmannian style, is inspired by the major late 19th century construction projects by Georges Eugène Haussmann that gave the French capital of Paris its current appearance. Vacheron Constantin has had its own agent in Paris since the early 19th century.
This rare tonneau shaped 18K 5N pink gold watch features ultra-thin in-house Calibre 2790 SQ with a tourbillon, date and power reserve.
The entire case and movement have been expertly engraved. The bezel, case back and lugs feature gadrooned decoration, while the case middle is finely sculpted with a lion's head and frieze. The mainplate and bridges of the entirely skeletonised movement are also adorned with motifs recalling the structure of the Eiffel Tower. The technical sophistication of this watch is highlighted by means of dedicated hand-crafted ornamentation.
If this wasn’t enough, Vacheron Constantin presents four Les Cabinotiers – Memorable places models, each representing a single-piece edition, featuring the site of Angkor Thom, the former Chinese imperial Old Summer Palace, the Confucius Temple in Beijing and the Tour de l'Île – the brand’s 19th century Geneva headquarters century.
The master engravers drew inspiration from illustrations dating from the 19th century, at a time when Vacheron Constantin was making its first contacts with China. The strikingly realistic dials were created using a technique unprecedented at Vacheron Constantin, consisting of micro-sculpting and engraving six to nine extremely thin yellow, pink and white gold plates measuring less than a millimetre thick. These dial components are then assembled and juxtaposed by playing on the shades of gold to form the depiction, or even superimposed to accentuate the reliefs and the depth effects. To make the composition even more realistic, the technique of damascene was also used to create the canopy of the trees featured.
These 40 mm-diameter pink gold watches are powered by self-winding Calibre 1120, Vacheron Constantin's ultra-thin movement.
The two single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon – Tribute to Arabesque and Tribute to Art Deco style watches, make further inroads into the world. Both are powered by in-house Calibre 2755 TMR with tourbillon and minute repeater, featuring the power-reserve indication visible through the sapphire caseback.
Since very early on in its history, Vacheron Constantin took an interest in Mediterranean markets, becoming familiar with the particularities of Ottoman culture by trading with Turkey from 1817 and subsequently with those of Arab culture through its exchanges with Egypt as of 1865. By this time, the brand was already well-versed with the American market.
Therefore, the brand has created an arabesque decoration for one timepiece, entrusted to a master engraver; and Art Deco ornamentation for the latter, using wood marquetry complemented by gemsetting and engraving. The decorations adorning the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi and the architecture of the Chrysler Building in New York served as the inspiration for these two exceptional 44 mm-diameter gold timepieces.
These watches not only tell time, but also beautiful stories of the cultures they represent. It magnifies the tiny details and highlights them wonderfully.