Tag Archives: Vacheron Constantin

Métiers d’Art Les Masques Collection by Vacheron Constantin

Luxury Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin and the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva partnered to create some of the most unique watches in the world. Using ancient tribal masks displayed in the museum, the designers from Vacheron replicated these masks and their meanings and created a four-piece series called the Métiers d’Art Les Masques collection.

The actual creation of these watches is an enormous feat in the world of watchmaking. Each mask measures about 20mm but had to be miniaturized to only a few mm. Which tools and materials should be used to do this were huge questions. With help from the Geneva Engineering School and laser technology each mask was able to be replicated in three dimensions and figure out the best possible position for placing the mask on the watch dial. It was decided that the masks would be carved from gold and it was a painstaking process to get all the details and expressions fixed on such a tiny workspace.

A special technique using specially-treated glass creates the transparent illusion that the masks are floating on the dial, while a customized metallization process on the sapphire crystal creates a unique tint that is particular to each individual mask.  The color tints are as follow: green for the Chinese mask, blue for the Alaskan mask, purple for the Indonesian mask and brown for the Congolese mask.

Vacheron used an automatic Calibre 2460G4 movement, so that the time can be read without any hands, which would interfere with the showcasing of the mask. The time indications rotate around the discs: hours on the top left, minutes on the top right, day on bottom left and date on bottom right.

Each mask: a Facial Mask from Indonesia, a Zangs Bag Facial Mask from China, a Pendant Mask from Mexico, and a Ngontang Mask from Africa tells its own story and comes with a poem. The watchmaker decided to include the poem as well and the words actually circle the sapphire dial in letters of gold and can only be read when the light hits the watch in a certain angle.

Here is an English translation (from French) of the poems:

The Chinese funeral mask

The light is concentrated
in the gold where I close my eyes
through my eyelids I see
the sleep of my descendants
I slip into their dreams
to give them my news
and light up the impasses
where adversity lies in wait

The Alaskan Frontal Mask

If I stick out my tongue
it is to show the trust I have in you
following your movements
on the sea between storms and in forests between
vast conifers on which your
genealogical myths will be inscribed

The Congolese Etoumbi-Mahongwe Mask

They wanted to deepen the shadow
where you will set your eyes
so that the flashes of sun and flames
will penetrate further
with their arrows to tattoo
not only your face and skin of your whole body
but the secrets of your night

The Indonesian Mask Wayang Topeng theatre
Bewitcher I observe
the shapes of girls who pass
my eyebrows are like a bird ready to take wing
and circle its prey
my moustache like a serpent

The Valuable Vacheron Constantin Kallania Watch

The Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie assembles some of the most prestigious and exclusive watchmakers on the planet. Because of its attendance that boasts names like Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, the event is bursting full with pricy timepieces. So when one particular watch rises above the crowd because of its price tag, you know it’s really expensive. This year, that honor belongs to the Vacheron Constantin Kallania.

With its price at an affordable 5 million euros (about $6.45 million), it goes beyond the watch industry’s usual definition of expensive. The high prices of watches, however, don’t often come without good reason. In the case of the Kallania, the profusion of zeros on the price tag comes from the 186 diamonds emerald-cut diamonds weighing in at a whopping 170 carats all in all. That’s 34 grams of diamond right there.

But one really cannot wonder why Vacheron Constantin bothered to create such a conspicuously luxurious watch. It is, after all, the same company that spent 6,000 hours (all clocked in by master craftsmen) in 1979 to create, nay, sculpt a watch from a single gold ingot. That same watch – the Kallista – was then set with a total of 130 carats’ worth of diamonds. The Kallania, then, is a sequel in the grand plan of a director that specializes in premium watches instead of motion pictures.

Just because it’s a veritable jewelry piece doesn’t mean that the Kallania is without its own merits with respect to horology. It’s outfitted with the 1003 Caliber, the thinnest mechanical caliber not just for Vacheron Constaintin but in the whole world so far. It’s perhaps only appropriate that such a record-breaking watch be paired with a mechanism that’s just as noteworthy as the watch itself.

Yes, the cost of the Kallania sounds more like a national debt than a price for a watch. It is, however, the kind of item that you just talk or dream about and not really buy (unless you’ve got several million dollars to spare). This is one timepiece that’s for the record books and the record books alone.