Celebrating centuries of excellence
Vacheron Constantin has good reason to be proud of its anniversaries. As one of the few horological brands boasting an uninterrupted history of more than 250 years, the make, founded in 1755, is still going strong.
This year's novelties pay tribute to an important landmark: the centenary of the first Malte watch.
Four new Malte novelties join the collection, with the platinum-cased 100th anniversary edition taking centre stage. The anniversary model, which comes in a limited edition of 100 pieces, is powered by the in-house mechanical manual-winding calibre 4400 movement with a power reserve of 65 hours. The silver sandblasted dial offers the base for the hour and minute hands, and Roman numeral indicators.
The Malte Tourbillon is powered by the new in-house-developed tonneau-shaped calibre 2795 movement housed in an 18ct pink gold casing and matching pink gold indices, and Roman numeral index for 12 o'clock. The Tourbillon cage with the Maltese Cross is visible at 6 o'clock. The movement offers a power reserve of 45 hours. Similarly laid out is the Malte Small Seconds, featuring a 4400 AS hand-winding movement which is a modified version of a Calibre 4400, with a small seconds function and an added Roman numeral at 6 o'clock. A small seconds subdial sits above the 6. The Malte Small Model quartz model for ladies follows in the same tradition.
The 12 and 6 numerals, and baton indices, stay faithful to Malte's original designs. 'They are necessary to maintain the identity of the Malte collection,' says Christian Selmoni, Vacheron Constantin's artistic director. All but the ladies' quartz model adhere to the new Hallmark of Geneva criteria, which no longer considers only a movement, but a watch in its entirety, with a particular focus on whether the assembly, adjustment and casing are completed in Geneva.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionelle 14-Day Tourbillon is the brand's first watch officially approved under the new criteria. The Patrimony features the new in-house hand-winding calibre 2260 movement housed in a 42mm pink gold casing. The watch is said to be the only one offering a 14-day power reserve. 'The Geneva Hallmark was launched in 1903,' says Vacheron Constantin's CEO Juan-Carlos Torres. 'We want to bear the hallmark because it is professional and it is totally independent and fully supported by the Geneva government. It is the only hallmark bearing the flag of a city and which has a continuous link to Geneva, Vacheron Constantin is Geneva.'
The anniversary Maltes were upstaged by Vacheron Constantin's own Metiers d'Art - Les Univers Infinis collection. The three models released this year were inspired by the works of 20th century Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher and feature familiar Escher themes of birds, fish and shells with starfish. Each model is offered in limited editions of 20 pieces in white gold.
Inspired by the periodic paving technique known as 'tessellation', the Metiers d'Art - Les Univers Infinis collection embodies several artistic works including gem-setting, engraving and guilloch? work. The complicated sequence of how the enamelling is done results in an almost 3-D effect on the dial.
The dove watch, which premiered at the Only Watch auction last September, features hand-guilloche and enamelling, with one dove set with 40 brilliant-cut diamonds, and a total weight of about 0.08ct.
The fish watch is crafted using hand-guilloche and cloisonne enamelling, while the starfish features the arts of engraving and champleve enamelling. All three are matched with a black alligator strap with an 18ct white gold Maltese Cross buckle.
'We are coming out with more and more Metiers d'Art series that pay tribute to the brand's creative and decorative art. But when we launched the series, we weren't just looking to do pieces with a beautiful dial, we wanted the challenge of finding concepts that would tell a story,' Torres says.
Vacheron Constantin's projected output of 19,000 pieces for this year were snapped up at the SIHH.