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The Masks of Time: Vacheron Constantin's Métiers d'Art

  By SUMITA BAGCHI, TIME N STYLE   Sep 25th 2011 at 10:32PM Watches RATED


Vacheron Constantin is a name reckoned by such collectors for their penchant for developing art inspired time machines. Having a keen eye and passion for the applied and decorative arts and incessantly driven by artistry, Vacheron Constantin's Métiers d'Art collection has written an extraordinary and unique chapter in the annals of watchmaking history. The collection bears witness to the brand's profound attachment to culture, travel-which is deeply rooted in their genes-and discovery. Alchemy among the cultural, artistic and fine watchmaking crafts, the Métiers d'Art series was born with the vision of creating timepieces as a cultural bridge between countries.

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An Inspired Line
In 2004, the first ever Métiers d'Art collection was created in a limited series to honour the great explorers of the world. The first models of the 'Tribute to the Great Explorers' series were dedicated to the Chinese admiral Zheng Hé and to Magellan, with his discovery of the strait bearing his name.

In 2005, to commemorate 250 years of their existence, the Métiers d'Art, "Les 4 Saisons" collection took shape where the dials reflected the four seasons, which symbolised Vacheron Constantin's majestic progression from the 18th to the 21st century and paid homage to the professions exercised within the art of horology and the ancient hand-craftsmanship techniques that remain alive within the brand.

Thus began a mystical and philosophical story that was conveyed through the mysterious watch faces year after year. Breathing new life into the 'Primitive Arts' was the Métiers d'Art "Les Masques" collection, which was created to pay a glowing tribute to the human spirit. Launched in April 2007, the Metiers d'Art "Les Masques" is an opus of 12 masks in a limited edition of 25 pieces, created over a period of three years, with a total of 300 pieces. 

Amazingly lifelike, the first four masks reproduced on the dials of these collectors' timepieces took inspiration from the primitive masks of China, Alaska, the Congo and Indonesia and embodied an exceptional kind of savoir-faire, combining 21st-century techniques with the rigour of traditional craftsmanship. In 2008, the second boxed set of timepieces reproduced four primitive masks, but this time from Mexico, Japan, Gabon and Papua New Guinea from the Barbier-Mueller collection. The third and final set was released in 2009 with timepieces representing the four different continents (the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania) for a total of 100 pieces. Breathtakingly beautiful and enchanting, all these timepieces demonstrated the painstaking skills and expertise of the craftsmen, along with their proficiency in the traditional and quintessential skills of the highly specialised decorative arts-enamelling, engraving, guilloché, and gem-setting. In 2008, the Métiers d'Art Tribute to Great Explorers series, saw two genuine works of art in grand feu enamelling, this time paying tribute to Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus.

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A New World
Unfolding a whole new horizon for combining watchmaking and decorative techniques across the world, Métiers d'Art "La Symbolique des Laques" collection launched in 2010 combined the traditional ancestral Japanese lacquer techniques. Born of a collaboration with one of the oldest Japanese lacquer companies, Zôhiko, the "La Symbolique des Laques" theme is set to change over a period of three years, each year bringing a new set of three watches, in a limited series of 20. The timepieces will feature motifs selected from the vast symbolic treasure trove of Far Eastern artistic traditions. The first set explored the theme of long life with "The Three Friends of Winter"-the pine tree, bamboo, and the plum tree. Unfurling the brilliance of the art of lacquer, the 2011 series saw Kame Kaeru Koi watches, dedicated to the aquatic realm. Incarnations of longevity, luck and strength; the turtle, frog and carp disclose their attributes in stylised waters on the enamelled dials.

This collection is a treasure trove of exceptional one-of-a-kind creations that portrays the natural affinities between Vacheron Constantin and the world of the arts.

 

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