15 complications to gain eternity.
Let’s lay out the basics before our conversation gets complicated, as it will.
Rules of light
Time immemorial, light inspires creation and clarity, including Thomas Edison’s mighty version of the lightbulb in 1879. But natural light ranked high, for a prestigious group of craftsmen referred to as “Cabinotiers”, who worked in cabinets (workshops on the top floor of Geneva buildings, in eighteenth and nineteenth-century), where there was the most natural light. Cabinotiers may not necessarily be watchmakers, they are firstly masters in the arts of engraving, jewellery making or stonecutting. That said, the most talented of them have created exceptional timepieces of rare technical and aesthetic complexity inspired by astronomy, science and the arts.
Since the 18th century, Vacheron Constantin has perpetuated this revered tradition of the “Cabinotiers”, with a dedicated Les Cabinotiers department that creates one-of-a-kind as well as commissioned bespoke watches for clients and collectors through their “Atelier Cabinotiers Special Order” service.
Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication Phoenix
Ahead of SIHH 2019, Vacheron Constantin presents their new Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication Phoenix, a fitting nod to the Maison’s refined watchmaking expertise and mastery in the ancestral craft of hand engraving. A one-of-a-kind twin-dial model created by their Les Cabinotiers department watchmakers.
The watch features the Maison’s renowned Calibre 2755, a calibre for grand complications that this one-of-a-kind model deserves: a manual-winding movement endowed with a 58-hour power reserve to drive the 15 horological complications including a minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar and equation of time.
As the legend of the Phoenix goes, the fabled bird sets itself on fire and rises from its ashes every 500 years.
Its defiance of the life and death cycle, underscores the Phoenix’s cred as a symbol of immortality.
The Les Cabinotiers Grande Complication Phoenix watch aptly invites one to defy time with its 15 complications.
15 complications to gain eternity
An array of indications are legibly visible on both (sides of the) slate-grey dials of the watch:
- perpetual calendar,
- equation of time,
- sunrise and sunset,
- sky chart, seasons,
- signs of the zodiac,
- age and phase of the moon,
- sidereal hours and minutes,
Complete with a minute repeater and a tourbillon, the watch boasts of a skilful maximum miniaturisation of all its components in its pink gold case.
The Phoenix appear to be ready to spread its wings and take flight. The exceptional watch case pays tribute to two ancestral engraving art techniques mastered by few.
(I want to say “one of not many”, to reference Vacheron Constantin’s promise of exclusivity in their latest campaign, extending to not just their creations, but their watchmaking teams of masters):
- Pounced ornament or bas-relief, for the case-band; and
- Fine line engraving for the bezel and case-back.
A process that involves 300 hours of patient craftsmanship.
Even with innovative advancement, over a decade of experience is required to acquire and perfect the ability of sculpting gold to create such a three-dimensional effect.
A little digression, as I am reminded of the Maison’s remarkable application of the pounced ornament engraving technique in their stunning Les Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers collection presented at SIHH 2018, see more here.
Looking forward, with the Phoenix leading the way, in anticipation of SIHH 2019 come January next year.