Two years after its introduction to us all, Vacheron Constantin has unveiled three new models from their illustrious Métiers d’Art Florilége collection, already famous for its dials that have been enamelled with exotic flower motifs, as well as it horological qualities. These miniatures works art – authentic anthems to femininity – are nurtured by artisanal skills mastered by the Manufacture that is renowned for their beautiful craftsmanship. The new collection is a tribute to naturalism and to the art of the 19th-century British botanical illustrations. The dials are adorned with colourful petals that have been beautifully enamelled onto the dial. The timepieces were created with a number of techniques including figurative guilloché, Grand Feu cloisonné enamelling and gem-setting.
The previous three Florilège timepieces
Vacheron Constantin has united some of the finest artisans in order to help make the new Métiers d’Art Florilége collection come to life. Together, the artisans and Vacheron Constantin understood the challenge and went through a very thorough thought process in order to coordinate every single gesture that was involved in the production stage to make sure every single piece was finished to perfection.
So how exactly was this achieved?
Firstly, it was up to the master guillocheur to draw the outlines of each plant life element on the gold dial plate: petals, stems, leaves, buds, pistils…They then guilloché-worked each flower by recreating the volume and the vivacity of each petal using a rose engine carefully safeguarded in the Vacheron Constantin workshops for more than a century. This meticulous task involves great patience and is based on hundreds of attempts: each stroke corresponds to a highly specific measurement combined with a specific number of turns of the rose engine – much like the code of a safe. These three new creations comprise between 45 and 73 zones to be decorated, depending on the model. Any mistake in the course of the process involves starting over from scratch. And yet this guilloché pattern is essential to amplify the radiance and the nuances of the enamels coating the decor. It serves to highlight the texture of the flower and the depth of the subtle shades while achieving the closest possible resemblance to the original engravings.
It was then handed over to the independent miniature painter Anita Porchet who applied the enamel to the motif traced by the guillocheur. The colours of the illustrations are crafted in Grand Feu cloisonné enamel. The master enamellist first placed tiny gold ribbons around each plant life element so as to create small hollows ready to house the colour pigments, an extremely tricky phase. The ribbon had to be bent yet not broken in order to adjust it perfectly to the areas to be marked out. Anita Porchet then applied various enamel layers: some translucent, others opalescent or sometimes more opaque, depending on the desired depth and shading required.
It is all a matter of subtlety, and the enamel specialist plays on transparency, on the fusion of colours, while maintaining a very strict order in terms of the nature of the enamels according to the rules governing the firing process. This meticulous operation involves numerous successive firing operations in the kiln serving to intensify the colour and light effects as well as the gradation of the materials. She then applies a glaze to vitrify the enamel and to give a special brilliance to the floral motif. In this instance, the countless gestures and shades have clearly pushed the boundaries of classic artistic craftsmanship.
Lastly, it was up to the gem setter to set the diamond bezel. The diamonds are of excellent (IF to VVS) clarity and superior (D or G) colour. The been has no less than 60 baguette-cut diamonds totally 1.40 carats in total. These are reserved for the five-piece limited edition set exclusively reserved for Vacheron Constantin Boutiques with 64 round-cut diamonds totalling 0.89 carats on the 20 watches comprising the rest of the collection.
Hidden within beats the Calibre 4400 mechanical hand-wound movement with a 65-hour power-reserve and decorated with Côtes de Genéve on the manipulate and polished screw heads. Everything is then cased in an 18K white gold 37mm diameter case with sapphire crystal utilised for both dial side and case back.
No, less than perfection as expected from Vacheron Constantin and great additions to the already impressive Métiers d’Art Florilége Collection. For more info, please visit vacheron-constantin.com
OSHEEN ARAKELIAN – CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Drawing on a lifelong love of horology and a more recent introduction to appreciation of fine whisky, Osheen brought the two together with watch & whisky. He is the proprietor of the site, which covers everything related to watches and whisky. In between completing a degree in commercial law and supporting a rich social life, he is out and about attending all the latest watch and whisky events Sydney has to offer. His passion has also taken him around Australia attending a number of events and he hopes to continue his career in the watch industry on a more serious level after he graduates. Read his articles here.