It’s rare in life that you get truly blown away by something, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed by anything in the world of horology as much as I was getting hands-on with the 2014 Vacheron Constantin Openworked watches.
Vacheron Constantin is the oldest and most respected manufacturer of timepieces in the world. The company has been making watches since 1755 – 250 uninterrupted years, and when you see the quality of craftsmanship in their timepieces it’s easy to understand why.
In honour to the amazing brand they have built, Vacheron Constantin does nothing in halves. I obviously knew the watches I was going to view were special but being picked up by a town car, driven to the Shangri-La, escorted to the Royal Suite, welcomed by a security guard and then poured a glass of Dom Perignon whilst overlooking Sydney Harbour set a standard I wasn’t quite prepared for. On display was a number of existing Vacheron Constantin Openworked watches as well as a selection of models launched at SIHH2014 including the men’s Malte Tourbillon and Métiers d’Art collection for both men and women – all manual wound examples.
The amazing thing about Vacheron Constantin is the level of craftsmanship across all areas of their products including mechanical watchmaking, enamelling, engraving and stone setting. Without companies like Vacheron Constantin, the art of enamelling and engraving may not have survived into the modern era, which makes the watches you see below even more special. You can honestly stare at these watches for hours and with the loupe provided, I was lost exploring the intricate details, including the millimetre wide Geneva seal and tiny symmetrical engravings across the skeletonised movements – all done by hand! To gain an understanding of just how detailed the hand finishing is, the watch below is 40mm wide and the brand name is under a millimetre thick, it’s honestly quite astounding.
The Malte Openworked Tourbillon was perhaps more stunning from behind than it was from in front, that’s if you disregard the beautiful Tourbillon rotating with the Maltese Cross or the Platinum case. I was even more impressed with the finishing on the rear of the Malte movement than the above Métiers d’Art watches.
The ladies Métiers d’Art pieces were, without doubt, some of the most fantastic examples of watchmaking I’ve ever seen and easily the best female watches I’ve ever viewed. With Vincent describing how four masters of their own individual art combine to produce the watches below I was truly amazed. The Indian Manuscript piece below has 11 colours in the enamel dial, thus requiring 11 individual trips to the Kiln, then the gold is laid into the enamel – if either man makes a mistake both must start from scratch and that’s just the dial!
These Vacheron Constantin Openworked pieces are works of art, there’s really no other word to describe them. Being able to enjoy them and appreciate them in the flesh was a dream – true grail status!
Big thanks to the Letitia and Vincent (who also wore a lovely Patrimony) from Vacheron Australia. Head to Vacheron Constantin’s website for further images and details about the production of these amazing pieces.