Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers: the fabulous conquest of the skies

Five flights… and as many stories engraved in gold.
Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers collection

Vacheron Constantin is exploring new creative horizons in telling the marvelous story of sky borne adventurers. The Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers collection by Vacheron Constantin pays tribute to the early and intrepid balloonists known in French as aérostiers.

Science, magic and dreams: the Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers collection retraces the thrilling experience of five historical flights made in France, a pioneering nation in the domain of early flying. In the late 18th century, these extraordinary feats enchanted royal courts and dumbfounded crowds alike.

On the scale of this new watch dial, the master engravers of the Maison is faithfully reproducing in miniature the historical depictions of five flights undertaken in France between 1783 and 1785. Splendid hand-engraved and micro-sculpted gold hot-air balloons hover against a translucent plique-à-jour enamel background, while time is displayed to the beat of Manufacture Calibre 2460 G4/1.

In addition to the delicate pounced ornament engraving technique, the dials are adorned with plique-à-jour enamel, a rare skill used for the first time by the Maison. Each hot-air balloon called for up to three weeks of craftsmanship in order to reproduce the entire range of subtle feature and ornamental details of the original works. The dials thus compose authentic miniature scenes graced with an extraordinary variety of motifs.

The pounced ornament technique consists in removing material so as to fashion relief effects. This irreversible operation calls for an impeccably deft touch. The master engraver first traces the volumes using a drypoint technique, before sculpting the precious mass and creates a particularly delicate rounded effect.

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers watch - dial Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers watch-00`

What is Plique-à-jour enamel technique?

On the dials of the Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers collection, a translucent background in sky blue, dark blue, turquoise, brown or burgundy, evoke a spirit of airy transparency. Vacheron Constantin is for the first time calling upon this skill mastered by very few enamellers. Its layout is reminiscent of cloisonné enamelling; while the absence of a base recalls a miniature stained-glass window.

The predominant shades of each creation are also picked up on the display discs as well as the matching strap. The inner bezel ring framing th enamel is engraved with a motif inspired by balloon ropes, also varying between 3N, 4N or 5N gold according to the models.

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers watch - mechanism

A highly technical calibre

Transparency effects provide fascinating glimpses of the gear trains and discs of Calibre 2460 G4/1 through the plique-à-jour enamel. This special self-winding calibre enables a singular hands-free staging of the indications. The disc-type display is cleverly revealed through apertures around the rim of the dial, between the curves of the plique-à-jour enamel partitions. The hours, minutes, day of the week and date are shown by means of four discs: respectively two of the dragging type and two of the jumping variety. The calibre decorated according to the highest watchmaking finishing standards is generously visible through the transparent caseback. The goldoscillating weight, specially engraved and domed for this new collection, evokes the rounded shape of a hot-air balloon.

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers watch - back