Enamel Painting Elevates the Latest Offerings of Venerable Watch Houses

Enamel Painting Elevates the Latest Offerings of Venerable Watch Houses

Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe demonstrate how the centuries-old art form continues to be a powerful medium for storytelling.
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Vacheron Constantin’s latest bespoke piece is a masterpiece on the inside and out.

Dedicated to creating unique pieces for its top clients, Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers is behind many of the maison’s most stunning horological and artistic blockbusters. Its latest one-of-a-kind creation, Les Cabinotiers Westminster Sonnerie – Tribute to Johannes Vermeer, results from eight years of interaction between the collector who commissioned it and the Genevan watch manufacture.

On the officer-type caseback of this 98mm yellow gold pocket watch is a miniature reproduction of Johannes Vermeer’s painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, dating back to 1665. Anita Porchet, an acclaimed enameller, took seven months to research and complete it. All challenges well known to grand feu enamel aficionados, multiple firings at high temperatures can cause colour shifts or cracks and even warp the metal base. Just the black background in the image required seven different shades.

The bespoke timepiece featuring miniature painting and hand-engraving.

The art of engraving also features prominently here. Executed over five months by a Vacheron Constantin master engraver, it highlights acanthus leaves running along scrolls and flowers with a pearl heart. The engraver’s work is also the proverbial cherry atop this timepiece. Sculpted from a block of gold, the bow is flanked by roaring lions.

The watch is also impressive on the inside. The new calibre 3761 was developed by the team behind Vacheron Constantin’s 57-complication 57260 pocket watch from 2015 and features Grande and Petite Sonnerie chiming complications and a minute repeater coupled with a Westminster chime mechanism with five gongs and five hammers. A tourbillon regulates the 806-part manual-winding movement with a double-wheel system to ensure smooth movement of the extra-long seconds hand.

(See also: Five Watches Inspired by the Cosmos)

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