The louvre

Vacheron Constantin unveils watches inspired by the treasures of the Louvre

PARIS – Seeing a sculpted goddess spreading her wings or the ornate sarcophagus of Egyptian royalty is an awe-inspiring moment by any measure.

A lucky few will be able to renew this experience every time they take a look at their wrist, since Vacheron Constantin is unveiling a collection of watches inspired by the treasures of Antiquity kept in the Louvre in Paris as part of a partnership signed between the watchmaker and the French museum in 2019.

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The Métiers d’Art Hommage aux Grandes Civilizations line comprises timepieces depicting the famous winged figurehead of Victory found on the Greek island of Samothrace; the Great Sphinx of Tanis, one of the largest preserved outside Egypt; the Frieze of Lions, a glazed brick decoration that once adorned the palace of Persian Emperor Darius the Great; and a bust of the first Roman emperor Octavian Augustus, the adopted son of Julius Caesar.

Of the dozens of objects housed in the museum, covering a period from the dawn of civilization to the mid-19th century, these were chosen because they illustrate the civilizations still considered the foundation of the modern world and the richness of culture at the time. Louvre, explained Christian Selmoni, director of heritage and style at Vacheron Constantin.

“It’s not [just] to create watches together, it is about exchanges with craftsmen and cooperation from a cultural point of view,” he continued.

The four models carry the manufacture caliber 2460 G4/2, which uses discs as indicators. Its oscillating weight presents a view of the east facade of the Louvre from an 18th century engraving.

Having four symmetrical openings to read the time and date instead of hands on the dial opened up the possibilities of combining micro-mosaics, stone marquetry, engraving, metallization on sapphire crystal and champelevé and grisaille enamelling, explained Selmoni.

Beyond the reproduction of well-documented works, the workshops sought to highlight the most salient artistic trait and the effects of time.

Victory was therefore shown in profile, as it does in the Louvre, to show the drapery work of the original sculptor. Around the Sphinx, the outline of the wings painted on a coffin lid were studded with aging inclusions to replicate the passage of time.

For the Lion of Darius, glazed bricks were fashioned using veined fragments of turquoise and yellow mochaite jasper, while an existing mosaic was reduced to wrist-sized proportions through pieces of 660 minutes for a Roman-inspired Bust of Augustus design.

Between the dial and the decorative figure is an ultra-thin sapphire crystal, engraved with a metallic text corresponding to each era – in its original script. This gave the effect of text fading or appearing on a surface depending on the angle of the light.

The drawing

The drawing “Victory of Samothrace”. – Credit: Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin

Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin

As the market for female collectors and the convergence between male and female creations continues to grow, Selmoni noted that no consideration has been given to the gender or location of future owners of these fine craft creations, because decorative craftsmanship has always been an integral part of fine watchmaking.

“There are many ways to collect watches, but there has always been a group of collectors who have been interested in decorative crafts and fine craft watches,” he noted.

For Selmoni, these exercises play a crucial role in preserving fine watchmaking crafts such as engine-turning, engraving, enameling and setting, which were once threatened with extinction.

The watchmaker recently put them in the spotlight at the “Homo Faber” fine craft exhibition in Venice, where it presented its “Thunder God” and “Wind God” minute repeater timepieces, which were part of the unique Les Cabinotiers line.

“We are seeing a growing interest in the ultimate expression of fine watchmaking, which is a combination of technicality – from movement to hand-finishing – and decorative craftsmanship,” he said, noting that the majority bespoke requests were a combination of complication and creativity. Arts and crafts.

The Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Hommage aux Grandes Civilizations watches will be produced in a limited edition of five each, with prices on request.

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