SIHH 2015 – Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Arca collection

calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Robin Nooy | ic_query_builder_black_24px 3 minute read |

Vacheron Constantin is looking back on its remarkable 260 years of history, and offers a series of celebratory collections, such as the all-new Harmony collection and the two Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Gravées timepieces. The third offering cultivates on artisanal crafts gathered since their foundation in 1755. We give you the Vacheron Constatin Métiers d’Art Arca, a series of 12 unique table clocks.

This collection, inspired by a 1933 Vacheron Constatin clock, is a culmination of the brand’s artisanal crafts. Master watchmakers, crystal glassmakers, stone hunters and -cutters, guillocheurs, engravers and enamellists all put in work to create 12 unique table clocks. The series of clocks is gradually unveiled over the coming year, and an exclusive preview was granted at SIHH 2015.

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Vacheron Constantin has spent over a year to unearth the necessary pieces of crystal and mineral stones in order to create each piece. Starting with 60 kilograms of rock, it is put in a kiln at 1500°C to melt, and carefully formed to the required shapes. Left for three days to gradually cool down, it is then cut in 5 blocks and polished to the highest possible level. The 5 pieces form a segmented arc and are mounted in a silver structure to form the case of the clock. A frosted crystal is fitted beneath the movement. The base of each clock is solid silver, is painstakingly decorated with an art-deco style guilloche motif.

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The craftsmanship isn’t confined to the crystal case of each clock but continues to wow on the inside too. A unique Vacheron Constantin 9620 Caliber, with constant force escapement and a 30 day power reserve is perfectly visible through the crystal. The key-wound movement is built up with seven bridges, and is almost fully openworked, providing an as unobscured view as possible.

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The movement has two mainspring barrels, each one containing a spring over a meter long which provides the ample 30 days of power when fully wound. The balance wheel, perched on the very top of the movement and thus clearly visible, runs at a slow frequency of 2.5 Hz (18,000 oscillations per hour).

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Even though a span of thirty days sounds huge, and the movement will run perfectly within chronometric rates for the largest part of that period, a movement is still susceptible to variations in tension of the springs. A combination of a fusée chain transmission and a constant force escapement, combined with a mobile lock and release system. This set-up of auxiliary regulating organs allows the power to be released as consistently as possible through the full 30 days of power.

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Hours and minutes are indicated on a guilloche chapter ring by way of lacquered metal hands and 12 large roman numerals. The silver numerals are filled with black Grand Feu enamel, a very delicate process considering the close melting points for both materials (860°C for the black enamel powder, 900° for silver). A third indication is the power reserve positioned at 6 o’clock.

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Each single Métiers d’Art Arca is fitted with the same movement. Out of the 12 clocks in total, 4 will be done in rock crystal while the remaining 8 will feature different types of crystals and minerals, each with different characteristics and play of light. The design for each of these 8 clocks is inspired by architectural movements: Orientalism, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Op Art, Post-Modernism, Deconstructivism, Green Architecture and Utopianism.

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