Pre-SIHH 2019 Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix
Since the 18th century, Vacheron Constantin has perpetuated the tradition of the “Cabinotiers”, the name given to the prestigious and cultivated watchmakers who worked in workshops bathed in light located on the top floors of Geneva’s buildings. The expertise of these accomplished masters was backed by vast scientific knowledge, fired by a curiosity for new ideas and nurtured by the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Their deft hands craft exceptional timepieces of rare technical and aesthetic complexity, inspired by astronomy, science and the arts.
Vacheron Constantin continues to take on these highly technical and creative challenges within its Les Cabinotiers department, which gives rise to one-of-a- ind models intended for clients and collectors, along with specifically commissioned bespoke timepieces. Engineers, designers, watchmakers and craftsmen unite their imagination, expertise and passion in bringing this refined watchmaking excellence to life, as is vividly testified by the new one-of-a-kind Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix.
According to the legend of the Phoenix, which arose in the East before reaching Asia, this fabled bird braved the cycle of life and death by setting itself on fire and rising from its ashes every 500 years. A symbol of immortality, it inspired the creators of the Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix watch, which also defies time with its 15 complications.
Visible on both sides of the watch, an array of indications – including perpetual calendar, equation of time, sunrise and sunset, sky chart, seasons, signs of the zodiac, age and phase of the moon, solstices, sidereal hours and minutes, power – endow it with nobility and prestige. A minute repeater and a tourbillon complete this list of functions. The watchmakers of the Les Cabinotiers department have succeeded in accommodating all these functions within the limited space of the case by maximum miniaturisation of all components, while preserving their reliability.
The numerals and hands stand out clearly against the slate-grey colour of the two dials on either side of the watch, beautifully offsetting the pink gold case. The optimal legibility of this complex model is also ensured by the layout of the additional counters and the various time indications.
Vacheron Constantin’s watchmakers have chosen the famous Calibre 2755 to drive the many functions of this complicated watch. This manual-winding movement endowed with a 58-hour power reserve is dedicated to the particularly sophisticated models of the Manufacture – and notably those in the Grand Complication category to which this one-of-a-kind model belongs.
This new timepiece also pays tribute to a pair of engraving art techniques that few artisans still master: pounced ornament – or bas-relief – for the case-band; and fine line engraving for the bezel and case-back. At least a decade’s experience is required to perfect the ability of sculpting gold to create such a three-dimensional effect, in a process involving 300 hours of patient craftsmanship. Given the extreme care lavished on details that constitutes a Vacheron Constantin signature, the wings of this legendary bird appear to be literally ready to unfurl on the case-band, while the movement of its slim neck extends elegantly and gracefully to the very tip of its beak.