Over the last few years, Vacheron Constantin has extended on its tradition for combining horological complications with one-of-a-kind designs by way of its Les Cabinotiers. The special workshop is home to some of the world’s most complex (thus most expensive) timepieces – each one made to measure by a very time-consuming and painstaking process. In this way, the Swiss watchmaker can demonstrate its mastery and expertise in various fields. In addition to creating watches that distil the essence of Les Cabinotiers, Vacheron Constantin has been holding an event for the last three years where it invites its clients from around the world to view some of its most exquisite Les Cabinotiers watches in a bid to showcase a very unique approach to watchmaking. This year is a little different, however.
Organised at a time when the financial challenges associated with the arts and recreation industry are unprecedented, Vacheron Constantin channels its efforts towards uniting art and craftsmanship with a special bespoke timepiece in collaboration with the Musée de Louvre. One lucky buyer at the “Bid for the Louvre” event, which will take place online from the world’s largest art museum, will be granted an experience of a lifetime.
The “Bid for the Louvre” event will run from December 1st to 15th live on the Christie’s website and has been organised between this famous auction house and the Louvre Museum with the support of Drouot. It will auction off a Les Cabinotiers watch on behalf of Vacheron Constantin in support of a much larger joint effort between other manufacturers and contemporary artists. One hundred per cent of the sales proceeds of the auction bid will go directly to supporting the museum’s solidarity projects. The watchmaker has been a partner of the Louvre since 2019 – a relationship that seems as fitting as ever since VC takes an artistic direction when creating many of its masterpieces. To highlight just one example, Vacheron’s engraving artisans use an age-old art to finish the case, dial and intricate components of its watches from the Métiers d’Art collection – a technique that will be incorporated into the final design of this rare timepiece up for auction.
The successful bidder will get to customise their own unique wristwatch by participating in its creation and working closely with Vacheron Constantin’s talented watchmakers, developing a timepiece inspired by their own personally chosen piece of artwork from within the Louvre itself. After a personal tour around the museum, led by one of the Louvre’s most experienced guides, the bidder will select their favourite piece of art before being invited to the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin in Geneva. They’ll meet the company’s elite family of skilled craftsmen – some of the most experienced in the world and be given the chance to gain insight into the complexities behind each detailed component of a Les Cabinotiers watch.
They’ll also choose from an extensive range of customisable options. The dial design, inspired by their chosen piece of art, will be executed in grisaille enamel or miniature enamelling – depending on the bidder’s preference. This rich palette of techniques, adopted from 16th and 18th-century art forms, has been handed down from one generation to the next at Vacheron Constantin. Enamellers, engravers and guillocheurs are the artists behind these techniques who achieve a finish that no cutting-edge piece of machinery could, using a myriad of tools from their workbench including gouges, scrapers, burnishers, rivet snaps and chisels. Hand-applying these dial enamelling techniques and mastering pigments in conjunction with firing kilns at temperatures up to 800°C is a skill in itself since the colour shades (which are likely to be altered once exposed to such heat) need to be guided by the hand of a craftsman with intuition, not to mention perseverance and patience.
More choice will be offered to complete the rest of the watch’s design. An 18k white gold, pink gold or platinum case will be offered, equipped with a specially engraved officer caseback, along with a choice of strap material and colour. The watch will be powered by the 2460 SC self-winding Calibre, exposing its 22-carat gold Maltese Cross-shaped oscillating weight through a transparent caseback crafted from sapphire crystal. The watch will offer hours, minutes and seconds, hands crafted in 18k pink or white gold to match the finish of the case and a personalized engraving on the caseback.
The owner of the bespoke Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers watch, which of course will be limited to one piece only, will receive a certification of authenticity from both Vacheron Constantin and the Louvre Museum to certify the reproduction of the bidder’s chosen piece of artwork.