By Meor Amri Meor Ayob

I seldom get excited with overly decorated watches. To me, the appreciation in the art of horology should fundamentally be pegged to the mechanical design of a watch. As it is, the need to ‘bling’ a watch with precious stones makes it become a garish piece of jewelry instead of a useful tool as it was originally intended to be.

When Vacheron Constantin introduced the Métiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements collection in 2014 as a celebration of the decorative arts of different cultures I did get excited. Vacheron Constantin used fine engraving and enameling techniques to tell the story about the art of Ottoman architecture, Chinese embroidery, Indian manuscript and French lace.

The brand has now introduced a new set of four watches that uses the same basic design motifs as the models introduced two years ago, but with variations in colors as well as new case materials. The movement is still the Vacheron’s hand-wound caliber 1003 SQRH2 open worked version. Operating at 18,000 vph, this caliber has a 31-hour power reserve and uses 18 jewels. General dimensions are 37 mm wide and 8 mm thick.

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The first of the four watches is the French Lace Métiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements watch. With the reference number 33580/000R-B009, this watch has a bezel set with 64 round-cut diamonds. The dial decoration is enamel over rose-engine applied guilloche. This transparent enamel is further set with garnet-colored sapphires and diamonds. The watch comes standard with a red alligator skin strap. A limited edition piece of just 20, this watch has a total of 194 diamonds on the dial.

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The second is the Chinese embroidery Métiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements watch. With the reference number 33580/000R-B011, it is crafted in pink gold according to the stone-cloisonné technique with jade. The dial is sculpted from mother-of-pearl and complimented by finely hand engraved gold leaves and pistils. The watch comes standard with a pink alligator skin strap. A limited edition piece of just 20, this watch has a total of 145 diamonds on the dial.

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The third is the new Ottoman Architecture Métiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements watch. With the reference number 33580/000R-B010, it is now made in white gold. It has a diamond set outer bezel and engraved inner ring around the movement. The dial is pink mother-of-pearl, under an openworked 18k pink-gold plate, hand-beveled and set with applied half-pearls. The watch comes standard with a burgundy alligator skin strap. A limited edition piece of just 20, this watch has a total of 85 diamonds on the dial.

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Finally, the new version of the Indian Manuscript Métiers d’Art Fabuleux Ornements watch. With the reference number 33580/000R-B008, the inner ring around the movement is mirror polished, and the dial is hand-engraved, with champlevé enameling. The watch comes standard with a purple alligator skin strap. A limited edition piece of just 20, this watch has a total of 85 diamonds on the dial.

As pieces of art, these watches are exquisite. I know I won’t be able to afford them, but I am happy to know that these beauties are out there. These pieces are definitely not garish. I bet 50 years from now, if anyone of these watches were to be put up for auction, a serious bidding war will ensue.

For more info, please visit vacheron-constantin.com

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MEOR AMRI MEOR AYOB – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Meor Amri is a passionate watch collector from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches (excessively!!!) on his own free time. His blogs on the same subject are: Eastern Watch & Western Watch Read his articles here