For Watches & Wonders 2020, the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers workshop introduced four pieces of fine crafts celebrating the artisanal flights of art. The luxury watch manufacturer pays tribute to the singing birds by staging a hummingbird, a blue jay, a chickadee and a robin, completing the theme "La Musique du Temps®" imagined by the Les Cabinotiers department.
In the Vacheron Constantin universe, Les Cabinotiers represents a department in its own right dedicated to the personalisation of models and to unique creations. This tradition dates back to the 18th century, a time when master watchmakers were called cabinotiers and worked in ateliers bathed in natural light, known as cabinets and located on the top floors of Geneva’s buildings. In the hands of these learned artisans, open to the new ideas of the Enlightenment, exceptional timepieces were born, inspired by astronomy, mechanical engineering and the arts. This expertise, which constitutes the great Geneva watchmaking tradition, has been flowing through Vacheron Constantin’s veins since 1755.
The Maison has chosen birds embodying powerful symbolism. The hummingbird, the world’s smallest bird and capable of flapping its wings up to 200 times a second, is represented in shades of green, feeding on flower nectar. Each timepiece is fitted with an alligator leather strap in a colour matching that of the dial.
Driven by a concern for formal purity, the Maison has opted for the in-house self-winding 1120 AT calibre because of its slimness and reliability. Developed in the 1960s, this movement immediately attracted the attention of specialists and collectors, not only for its 2.45 mm thickness but also for its construction, which is considered to be a model of horological engineering.
To create these strikingly realistic dials, Vacheron Constantin's master enameller used the champlevé painted enamel technique. This consists of hollowing out of the dial material thin alveoli, designed as receptacles for the enamel delicately applied with a brush. Performed using binoculars, this work is all the more complex due to the rich palette of colours. To give life to the birds, the master artisan has in fact extended his palette to some 10 colours and their subtly graded shades for each of the dials, representing the fruit of intense research and extreme dexterity in their application.