Thursday, July 2, 2015

Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées

From Vacheron Constantin for ONLY WATCH -
Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin

Here's the info, direct and unfiltered from Geneva -

                            Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées for Only Watch 2015 
                                                  When engraving morphs into sculpture 

At the occasion of the charity event Only Watch 2015 that will take place on November 7th in Geneva, Vacheron Constantin renews its support with a unique Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées timepiece, beautified by an enamelled red ring. This creation links two worlds that evolved in similar ways in the late 19th century: architecture and watchmaking. Based on one of the stellar in- house movements, Calibre 4400, this sculptural work with its airy, transparent and finely arched construction exalting the art of openworking vividly evokes the large European railway stations symbolising the golden age of the industrial revolution. The engraver’s technique is reinvented to resemble that of the sculptor, revealing fascinating light effects conveyed through a three- dimensional architecture enhanced by another artistic craft: that of Grand Feu enamelling. 

Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin

An historical quest
While the first entirely openworked Vacheron Constantin calibre appeared in 1924, the Manufacture was a pioneer in this field of stylistic research, since the first watch produced by Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755 already featured an openworked and engraved balance-cock. Over the following years, the Manufacture relentlessly pursued this quest for mechanical transparency, as it produced movements comprising ever more finely fashioned components. After pocket-watches, it began producing openworked movements for wristwatches as of the 1960s, constantly pushing the boundaries of its art by openworking such complicated calibres as minute repeaters, perpetual calendar and tourbillons including in ultra-thin variations.

Time has passed, yet the thirst for creative challenges remains as strong as ever. Witness the new release by the Manufacture of a splendid mechanical work evoking the large glass domed roofs of historical railway stations, supported by Gothic-inspired ribbed vaults. This impressive artistry is expressed through stunning hand-engraved work resembling the technique of sculpture and orchestrated by a symphony of curves forming a three-dimensional architecture literally flooded with light. 

New milestones in the art of engraving
Openworking a movement is a demanding art, since it involves hollowing out the mechanical parts as much as possible, while being careful not to impair the smooth running of the watch. Watchmakers generally start with a solid existing calibre on which they undertake a lengthy process involving conceptualisation, design and modelling, in order to weave the magic of openworking. This unique piece Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées is no exception to this rule, since it features the manually- wound open worked Calibre 4400SQ. It took several hundreds of hours to achieve the perfect balance between airy aesthetic appeal and optimal functionality. The watchmakers and artisans of the Manufacture compounded the already impressive feat of removing almost half the material compared with the solid Calibre 4400 by addressing another challenge: that of transforming the new movement into an authentic three-dimensional architectural work expressing striking light and shadow effects. To achieve this, they have laid new milestones in the age-old art of hand engraving. Rather than using a bocfil or tiny handsaw to cut out the smooth surface of the mainplate and bridges before drawing them out with a file and chamfering them, the engraving artisans have carefully chased the parts around their entire circumference so as to create a true sculpture with its own volume and depth. Inspired by the ribbed vaults of late 19th century railway stations, they have meticulously applied their burins to creating delicate arches on the calibre in a fascinating architecture built around curves. These rounded shapes are a complete change from the straight lines of classic openworked movements, and imply an even more complex process of chamfering and hand-drawing. Amid a clever interlacing pattern of interior angles that only the human hand is capable of creating, the polished zones catch the light, while the matt finish of the hand-drawn surfaces further heighten the contrast with the radiance of the polished areas. The subtle alchemist’s blend of these hand-crafted finishes is further exalted by the relief effect of the engraved vaults in a process involving over three days of work for a single calibre and endowing it with unique character.

Courtesy of Vacheron Constantin


Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées

Hallmark of Geneva certified timepiece

Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin

Mechanical, manual-winding
28.60 mm (12 ’’’ 1⁄2) diameter
2.80 mm thick
Approximately 65 hours power reserve
4Hz (28’800 vibrations/hour)
127 components
21 jewels

Hand-engraved openworked caliber on front and back 

Hours, minutes

18K white gold
40 mm diameter, 7.50 mm thick

Transparent sapphire crystal caseback
Water-resistance tested at a pressure of 3 bar (approx. 30 meters)

Red Grand Feu opaque enamelled external ring Openworked Roman numerals on an 18K gold ring
“ONLY WATCH” openworked on the 18K gold ring, at 3 o’clock

Black Mississippiensis alligator leather strap with alligator leather inner shell, stitched-tip, large square scales

18K white gold buckle Half Maltese cross-shaped

Delivered with a magnifying glass

Unique piece for ONLY WATCH
“2015” and “N°1/1” engraved on the back of the timepiece 


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