At the occasion of SIHH 2019, Vacheron Constantin, the luxury Swiss watch manufacture of prestige watches founded in 1755, is enriching the exclusive range of “Mécaniques Sauvages”, the one-of-a-kind models crafted by its Les Cabinotiers department and unveiled in November 2018. Setting the stage for tigers and pandas, the new creations forcefully portray the majesty of these wild animals.
The off-centred time and date displays driven by the 2460 G4 calibre leave ample space in the dial centre for tigers and pandas to spring into action through pounced ornament engraving and wood marquetry. Les Cabinotiers department isa passion inherited from the Age of Enlightenment. Known as Les Cabinotiers and nurtured by the philosophy of the Enlightenment, the prestigious craftsmen were distinguished by their erudition as well as by the technical and aesthetic
complexity of their luxury timepieces, pieces inspired by science and the art.
Engraving and wood marquetry give life to Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Imperial Tiger, Les Cabinotiers Majestic Tiger, and Les Cabinotiers Wild Panda. Les Cabinotiers Imperial Tiger and Majestic Tiger models highlight the association between bas-relief engraving (for the tigers and rocks) and wood marquetry (the background landscape and foliage). Les Cabinotiers Wild Panda watches are crafted in wood marquetry.
A kind of “trompe l’oeil” effect makes it seem as if the tigers are on the move, striding through the jungle or ready to leap from high rocks. With extreme precision, the master engraver plays with various surface finishes, subtly alternating between matt, polished, satin-brushed and chased techniques to create contrasts that will bring the animals to life, or else using black oxidation as a means of accentuating the tigers’ stripes. This extreme attention lavished on finishing is a Vacheron Constantin signature. Recreating the tigers involves no less than 60 hours, says the luxury watch manufacture.
Calibre 2460 G4 has chosen to tame time by driving displays of the hours, minutes, day and date through four apertures arranged around the dial circumference, thereby giving pride of place to the freely interpreted tigers and pandas.
One of the challenges facing the master-watchmakers was to incorporate a reading of time that is both technically and aesthetically compatible with the dial design. The self-winding 2460 G4 calibre, entirely developed and crafted by the Maison, thus leaves room for a singular and optimal stage-setting for decorative arts, allowing the central dial motif to play a starring role. The hand-free displays appear through four apertures: hours between 11 and 12 o’clock, minutes between 1 and 2 o’clock, days between 7 and 8 o’clock and the date between 4 and 5 o’clock. These indications are provided by a quartet of four discs: the first two of the dragging type and the latter two of the jumping variety. Endowed with a 40-hour power reserve, the 2460 G4 calibre is housed in a 41 mm-diameter gold case. Decorated in keeping with the highest standards of watchmaking finishing, it is generously revealed through the transparent caseback.
Vacheron Constantin’s Wood marquetry
The marquetry (inlay) technique serves to compose the motif using a multitude of tiny, individually hand-cut wood veneers in various shades and shapes. More than 200 pieces have been assembled to form the rocky backdrop of the ‘imperial’ tigers; about 130 pieces for the foliage surrounding the ‘majestic tigers’; and more than 300 for the pandas. Five to twenty types of wood were used for each of the dials, depending on the complexity of the decorations.