Tribute to Great Civilizations — Vacheron Constantin’s Dazzling Collaboration with the Louvre

Tribute to Great Civilizations — Vacheron Constantin’s Dazzling Collaboration with the Louvre

When it comes to the pinnacle of artisanal, handcrafted watch dials, Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art collection is firmly in the best-in-class category. The manufacture’s master craftsmen have honed their intergenerational skills to produce genuine wearable works of art. It makes complete sense then that the Louvre, home of some of the world’s greatest cultural artefacts, should collaborate with Vacheron’s master craftsmen to produce some very special watches inspired by key pieces from the museum’s collection.

The relationship between Vacheron and the Louvre dates back to 2019. Toward the end of 2020, the partnership hit the horological headlines when it was announced that there was a special lot in a Christie’s sale comprising a pièce-unique Vacheron Métiers d’Art collection that could be made to the winning bidder’s specification based on a masterpiece from the Louvre collection. The highest bidder was to get a private tour of the Louvre by a senior expert who would help them choose their ‘piece’ before working closely with the Métiers d’Art craftsmen to conceptualize the watch. Incredible!

Now there is a series of four watches being made under the banner of this unique collaboration, with each watch gaining its inspiration from a specific era of ancient history. It would, of course, be a simple process and an ‘easy win’ to simply make a dial that is inspired by a noted period in the history of our civilization with some relevant design and motif work. That would not do, however, for the Louvre and the team of people in the Métiers d’Art department. Instead, they are using techniques and processes from those eras to make the dials and produce genuinely unique wearable pieces of art.

The four eras are: the Persian Empire under Darius the Great, the Egypt of the pharaohs from the time of the Middle Kingdom, the Hellenistic period in Greece, and the birth of the Roman Empire with the advent of Augustus. A key work of art from each of the four periods was selected from the Louvre’s vast collection before the Vacheron craftsmen began the painstaking work of creating a representation of each work on a 40mm dial using ornamentation achieved through the decorative arts processes from the relevant era. According to the brand, “The choice of techniques, the rare talents required to implement them, as well as the original composition of these timepieces converge to offer a fascinating watchmaking spectacle, commensurate with these great moments in history.”

The Lion de Darius (Persian Empire)
The Lion de Darius (Persian Empire)
The Grand Sphinx de Tanis (Ancient Egypt)
The Grand Sphinx de Tanis (Ancient Egypt)
The Victoire de Samothrace (Hellenistic Greece)
The Victoire de Samothrace (Hellenistic Greece)
The Buste d’Auguste (Roman Empire)
The Buste d’Auguste (Roman Empire)

Each dial features a sculpted gold appliqué that is a representation of an emblematic work chosen from among the masterpieces conserved in the Louvre. The watch incorporates a subdial that is adorned with motifs drawn from the decorative arts of the same period. This ornamentation, also inspired by the antiquities in the Louvre, was entrusted to master artisans in the fields of enameling, stone marquetry, engraving and stone micro-mosaics. In addition, texts representative of the periods concerned are reproduced in their original form — cuneiform writing, hieroglyphs, ancient Greek and Latin — by metallization on the sapphire crystal bearing the sculpted appliqué. Serving as models for this limited series of watches were: the Frieze of Lions, a siliceous glazed brick frieze from the Palace of Darius; the Grand Sphinx of Tanis and paintings from an Egyptian coffin; the Winged Victory of Samothrace and pieces of Greek ceramic objects; Buste d’Auguste, a bust of the adopted son of Caeser and masterpieces of Roman mosaics.

Placemen of the external frieze made of engraved metal and champlevé enamel with "ageing" inclusions
Placemen of the external frieze made of engraved metal and champlevé enamel with "ageing" inclusions
3N gold applique hand engraving before patina
3N gold applique hand engraving before patina
White gold applique hand engraving
White gold applique hand engraving
Dial periphery adroned with 660 stones, tiny squares measuring just 0.55 mm each, placed one by one
Dial periphery adroned with 660 stones, tiny squares measuring just 0.55 mm each, placed one by one

Due to the composition of the dial/work-of-art, in place of hands, Vacheron has opted for four apertures that separately display the hours, minutes, day and date, arranged symmetrically around the dial periphery. Driving the four watches is Vacheron Constantin’s manufacture self-winding caliber 2460 G4/2. The movement has four disks to indicate the hours, minutes, day and date, and each one has a 22K pink gold rotor with an engraving inspired by the eastern facade of the Louvre that features a colonnade inspired by the work of Louis Le Vau and Claude Perrault, based on an 18th-century etching.

22k pink gold oscillating weight with the Lourve eastern façade engraving before casing-up
22k pink gold oscillating weight with the Lourve eastern façade engraving before casing-up

The four watches come in 42mm yellow or white gold cases with sapphire casebacks that offer a view of the stunning movement and Louvre-inspired decorated rotor or oscillating mass. There will be five pieces of each model, 20 pieces in total, available exclusively through the Vacheron Constantin boutiques.

Tech Specs

Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilisations

Lion de Darius
Lion de Darius
Grand sphinx de Tanis
Grand sphinx de Tanis
Victoire de Samothrace
Victoire de Samothrace
Buste d’Auguste
Buste d’Auguste

Movement: Self-winding caliber 2460 G4/2
Functions: Hours, minutes, day and date
Case: 42mm x 12.9mm; 18K pink or white gold; water resistant to 30m
Bracelet: Alligator leather with 19K pink or white gold buckle
Availability: Each limited to 20 pieces

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Ross Povey

Ross Povey, the founder of TudorCollector.com is regarded as the world’s leading expert on vintage Tudor watches. Although an expert on Rolex and Tudor watches primarily, Ross’s work covers the entire field of horology and he is currently Editor-in-Chief of Revolution magazine in the UK. He writes for and has contributed to some of the most influential horological publications, including; The Telegraph, The Rake, Bulang & Sons, Watchonista, Hodinkee, QP and is the co-author of the book Daytona Perpetual, a celebration of the automatic Rolex Daytona released through Pucci Papaleo Editore. Ross is also an international speaker and regularly hosts watch events in the UK and Europe.

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