Unique in terms of seniority, since its activity has continued uninterrupted since its founding in 1755, Vacheron Constantin also stands out for its longstanding complicity with women. The new Égérie Creative Edition watch is now writing a new chapter in this relationship. Combining the finesse of Burano lace which inspired it with the watchmaking excellence cherished by the Maison, the new reference bears fresh testimony to the art of Belle Haute Horlogerie. Unveiled in 2020, the Égérie collection is designed as an ode to femininity mingling Haute Couture and Haute Horlogerie. The Égérie timepiece draws on the decorative craftsmanship that has been an integral part of the Manufacture since the early 19th century. Like the lace-makers of Burano crafting the most delicate creations with their needles, the Master Artisans have applied their art of engraving, enamelling, tapisserie and setting to the service of contemporary femininity.
Vacheron Constantin has always shown great sensitivity towards its feminine clientele. From the first pocket watches to the new Égérie Creative Edition watch, its creations are distinguished by the fact that they are designed specifically for women rather than being based on men’s models. The archives are full of watches ordered by women and often endowed with horological complications. Hunter-type cases and a variety of wristwatches thus illustrate the creativity of the Maison. The Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods gave rise to pieces as elaborate as lacework, cases adorned with applied floral motifs or cameos featuring mythological figures, along with skeleton watches. The Égérie Creative Edition timepiece echoes the silhouettes of the 21st century. Its asymmetrical features including the off-centre moon-phase display and the case's integrated crown set with a rose-cut diamond between 1 and 2 o’clock accentuate the delicacy of the "embroidered" dial swept over by three graceful hands specially designed for the watch.
Daintily engraved like Burano lace, the dial of the Égérie Creative Edition watch involved superimposing five elements involving fascinating expertise. Inherited from an ancient decorative technique and still executed by the master guillocheur on a machine dating from the early 20th century, the pleated tapisserie motif is produced on a silver base to further enhance the black enamel. The latter material – which is particularly complex to master in order to maintain the balance between transparency and colour – brings both contrast and volume. The art of the master enameller is also illustrated in the moon-phase window, with the mother-ofpearl night star appearing beneath a plique-à-jour enamel cloud, reduced to just 0.27 mm thick for the first time in the history of the Maison. The extreme fineness of the white gold lace threads – gluedcomparable to that of an eyelash – is such that it is physically impossible to hold the applique between the fingers without bending it. The master engraver and then the master gemsetter therefore deployed the full measure of their expertise: one to create flowers and flat areas, as well as to express personal creativity on areas left free for personal choice; and the other to set the 250 brilliant-cut diamonds adorning the motif and the 292 others lighting up the case and the crown. The exceptional daintiness of the ensemble is complemented by the black satin-effect calfskin strap featuring a buckle set with 21 diamonds and which can be switched out at the touch of a button for an alternative second strap in black Missisippiensis alligator leather.
On 17 September 1755, when Jean-Marc Vacheron signed the first apprenticeship contract with a young watchmaker in Geneva – marking the birth of a Maison that was to make its mark on the history of watchmaking – the lacemakers of Burano Island had already been renowned for two centuries. The punto Burano officially appeared in the 18th century. Consisting in a very fine mesh with discreet floral motifs, this needlepoint stitch is carried out on a cloth-stuffed cylindrical cushion called a tombolo and is considered to be one of the most subtle in the world. Passed down from generation to generation, it is still practiced on the small island near Venice. The new Égérie Creative Edition watch pays homage to it by combining artistic crafts with watchmaking expertise, which are also embedded in the spirit of transmission driving the Maison. “Like Vacheron Constantin, we have been perpetuating a unique savoir faire transmitted by generations of artisans. The nature of Burano needle lace lies in having been the forerunner and inspiration for this art that spread throughout Europe. In Burano, stitches were perfected, achieving a degree of artisanal virtuosity that led the island's master lace-makers to travel and transmit their savoir-faire” explains the Burano Lace Museum.
The story of Vacheron Constantin's relationship with women, which began at the turn of the 18th century, continues to unfold. Inspired by Burano lace, the latest model –Égérie Creative Edition – combines watchmaking expertise with the artistic crafts that Vacheron Constantin strives to perpetuate. Tapisserie, engraving, enamelling and gemsetting give rise to a precious timepiece sparkling with over 4 carats of diamonds.