Nine One-Off Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers pieces blend Artistry and Mechanics

The annual Les Cabinotiers returns with a theme that gathers the best architecture from all corners of the world.

Ever wondered why Vacheron Constantin is considered part of the “Holy Trinity” of Swiss watchmaking? Well, the key might lie in the brand’s top-of-the-line collection, Les Cabinotiers.

 

The Les Cabinotiers collection includes watches that are either unique creations designed by the brand or bespoke pieces commissioned by collectors. It stands as a no-expense-spared series that combines both artisanal decorations and exceptional mechanics. Only a select few large maisons maintain the tradition of consistently presenting such catalogs, solidifying Vacheron Constantin as “one of not many,” as the brand’s slogan aptly points out.

 

For Vacheron Constantin, introducing an annual thematic collection of unique pieces has become a cherished tradition, much like the unveiling of Patek Philippe’s Rare Handcrafts collection. While past themes delved into the sea and the celestial, this year’s focus returns to humanity with Récits de Voyages, translating to “Tales of Journeys” in English. The latest collection features nine unique pieces with decorations inspired by remarkable architecture from around the world.

Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon Tribute to Haussmannian Style

First in the collection is the Tribute to Haussmannian Style, transporting us to the heart of Paris. In the 19th century, Baron Haussmann, the Prefect of Seine, executed a massive urban renewal program under Emperor Napoleon III’s orders. This initiative still imparts a taste of extravagance on the city, fondly remembered as Haussmann’s renovation of Paris.

 

Consequently, the watch mirrors this extravagance in every aspect. It’s a powerhouse with impressive features, including a distinctive tonneau-shaped case, a tourbillon movement, and meticulous hand engraving on both the case and the skeletonized movement. An unusual and noteworthy detail can be found on the bezel and case side, where intricate engravings depict motifs inspired by Parisian structures, including the Eiffel Tower.

Les Cabinotiers Memorable Places

Following is a quartet of unique pieces that takes us on a journey from Europe to the Far East. The first in the Memorable Places series is the La Tour de l’Île, a watch that captures the historic site of the watchmaker’s workshop between 1843 and 1875 in Geneva. The depiction is intricately hand-engraved on the dial, featuring components in pink, yellow, and white gold.

Les Cabinotiers Memorable Places

Moving forward, the Entrance gate to Angkor Thom takes us to Cambodia. The watch features a dial crafted from gold in different colors, with detailed engravings of all the elements associated with the gate. The brand reports that this intricate work required over 200 hours to complete.

 

Continuing our journey, we encounter a pair of watches inspired by Chinese architecture. The first, the Old Summer Palace, takes inspiration from the garden built by the Qianlong emperor of the Qing Dynasty. Ironically, this historical site suffered destruction twice at the hands of Europeans during wars in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Next, we have the Entrance Gate to Confucius Temple and Imperial College Museum, drawing from the imperial educational institutions built during the 14th century Yuan Dynasty and subsequently expanded in later dynasties.

 

The quartet sports the ultra-thin cal. 1120, derived from the Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. 920 but enhanced both technically and aesthetically, and now produced in-house by Vacheron Constantin. This movement contributes to an overall case height of 9.1 mm, ensuring an elegant fit with the 40 mm width.

Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Tribute to Arabesque

Embarking from China, our journey unfolds in the Middle East, where the Minute Repeater Tourbillon Tribute to Arabesque draws inspiration from the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. This watch stands out as the most complicated among the current releases, housing the cal. 2755 TMR, which combines both a tourbillon regulator and a chiming function. The decoration reflects this complexity, beginning with the dial – a two-piece construction with a matte black background that’s hand-chiseled and a skeletonized, hand-engraved topping frame featuring a floral motif. Complementing the twin-layer white gold dials, the case is engraved with various motifs inspired by patterns found in the mosque. According to Vacheron Constantin, the entire engraving process takes over a month.

Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Tribute to Art Deco Style

Another timepiece housing the cal. 2755 TMR is the Minute Repeater Tourbillon Tribute to Art Deco Style, offering a unique touch with a dial made from wood instead of metal. Both the wood marquetry dial and the case engraving pay homage to the embellishments of the Chrysler Building in New York. The dial comprises two distinct levels for enhanced visual depth. Each layer exhibits finely cut tiny veneers, colored in shades of black and blue. A particularly notable feature is the application of baguette diamond markers and a golden pearl minute track, adding a touch of sparkle and visual depth to the watch.

Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon Tribute to Art Deco Style

The final tourbillon wristwatch in this year’s Les Cabinotiers collection is the most interesting. What sets it apart is not only the presence of two axes but also an unusual cylindrical hairspring. The entire tourbillon setup is so expansive that the top crystal necessitates an additional dome to accommodate the rotational movement.

 

While the movement boasts various technical highlights, such as retrograde hours and minutes, the standout feature of the latest model is undoubtedly the guilloche work and engraving adorning the dial, movement, and case. These details impart a majestic, luxurious aesthetic reminiscent of the art deco embellishments found on New York skyscrapers.

Les Cabinotiers Grisaille High Jewellery – Dragon

Last but not least, in anticipation of the Year of the Dragon in 2024, as per the Chinese calendar, Vacheron Constantin introduces a high jewelry edition. The Grisaille High Jewelry – Dragon distinguishes itself among the nine pieces as the only watch adorned with baguette diamonds on the case.

 

However, the true highlight is the enamel dial. Featuring a fierce dragon, the enamel dial employs the grisaille technique in a single color of varying shades, a departure from the usual gray scale. In this instance, the dial is painted in striking green, giving it a distinctive and unusual appearance.

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