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Vacheron Constantin pays tribute to women through three new collections, each offering its own interpretation of time
Vacheron Constantin’s tradition as a maker of women’s watches started with the 19th century, when the first pocketwatches especially made for women appeared. Although smaller than men’s watches they were much more lavishly decorated and thus demanded skills in miniaturisation and decoration that only a few of the watchmakers of the time possessed. Vacheron Constantin was one of them. One of the first of the manufacture’s women’s watches was a quarter-repeater produced around 1810, which proves that watchmaking complications were not only for men.
It was an age when a lady was not expected to know the exact time, still less enquire of it in society. Vacheron Constantin therefore embarked on the creation of watches as real jewellery that came to symbolise the status of their owners. They were soon to become the indispensable accessory, worn chest high on a sautoir, hung on a chatelaine of keys, pinned to the dress or disguised as a brooch. Diamonds, turquoises, rubies, pearls, onyx, garnets and many other precious stones were mustered to frame eye-glasses, create the petals and pistils of flowers, or bring glory to a miniature in enamels or a finely chased and engraved scene.
Vacheron Constantin’s creations for women rejoiced in the freedom to astonish as the years went by, from sinuous Art Nouveau to geometrical Art Deco with watches that hung from cuff-links, bracelets in woven chain, linked rods or that wrapped thrice around the wrist, and straps of satin ribbon or leather.
Today, Vacheron Constantin pays a new tribute to women. The 2013 vintage, presented at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva, shows the brand’s determination to dedicate their best work to women by combining the beauty intrinsic in artistic craftsmanship with the technical mastery of the mechanisms of time. Three major collections each offer their own interpretation of time in the feminine gender.
The Malte collection comprises only watches with the iconic tonneau case. Today, it adds another chapter to its century of history with new creations for women. Curvaceous and poised, it becomes a celebration of feminine grace. Its clean lines, demure in spirit, exude sensuality in a display of diamonds.
Three models dressed in pink or white gold signal their pedigree by focussing on the essential attribute: the appreciation of time. In these models, the diamonds that highlight the curves of the case frame a paved tonneau of diamonds in the centre of the brushed silver-toned dial. Applied gold Roman numerals and the hands for the minutes and the hours radiate feminine charm in a discreet yet thoroughly modern style.
The new Malte Lady comes in a case measuring 28.30mm x 38.75mm, curved to hold the most delicate wrist, and which houses the calibre 1202 quartz movement. A leather strap from Alligator mississippiensis or a satin band, make a ladylike connection to the buckle in the shape of a half Maltese cross, which can be plain or set with diamonds.
MÉTIERS D’ART FLORILÈGE
The intense relationship forged between the watch manufacturer and artistic crafts—métiers d’art—is fully expressed in the eponymous collection, which aims to put the fundamental values of the brand in their true perspective. This year, and for the first time in this exceptional collection, a new opus called Métiers d’Art Florilège has been created exclusively for women. This trilogy pays a vibrant tribute to the delicacy of English botanical illustration in the 19th century.
The plants, taken from Robert John Thornton’s The Temple of Flora, published in 1799, grow over the dials of watches that combine the artistic crafts of enamelling, guillochage and gem-setting. To celebrate the cultural legacy of this work, Vacheron Constantin drew upon the expertise of its craftsmen and of Anita Porchet, an independent artist specialising in miniatures in fired enamels, Geneva style. The artwork, reproduced in guilloché engravings and Grand Feu cloisonné enamels, comes to life in a profusion of colour. Each dial gives an illusion of amazing depth and perspective, highlighted by a bezel set with diamonds. The realism is equally amazing. The craftsmen have brought together their skills to reproduce the flowers in their smallest detail.