Defying the restraint and moderation that has settled over the watchmaking scene of late, it is refreshing to see such a magnificent display of mechanical luxury and grandiose craftsmanship. Unleashing a menagerie of majestic wild animals, Vacheron Constantin gives a riveting display of its inexhaustible creativity and mechanical expertise. Mécaniques Sauvages is a bespoke collection of unique pieces made in Vacheron Constantin’s very own customisation department – Les Cabinotiers – where horological fantasies spring to life. To give you an idea of what the watchmakers at Les Cabinotiers are capable of producing, think back to Reference 57260, a private commission delivered in 2015 with no fewer than 57 complications under its belt, making it the most complicated timepiece on our planet.
There are reportedly 20 Les Cabinotiers animal-themed watches in the Mécaniques Sauvages collection. For the moment, the brand has shared five models demonstrating a powerful combination of grand complications and artistic crafts. Unleash the beasts…
Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon Snake
Horological fireworks for the lucky owner of this watch are guaranteed. A derivation of the aforementioned Ref. 57260, the armillary tourbillon (six patents filed) puts on a hypnotic show and occupies the totality of the left side of the dial. With its split personality, the right side of the dial is openworked and displays the retrograde hours and minutes. High-tech material like silicon for the pallet lever and escape wheel and an aluminium tourbillon carriage enhance the precision and durability of the mechanics. Coiling around the sides of the 45mm pink gold case is a formidable snake, each scale and minute detail lovingly engraved by Vacheron’s specialised artisans.
Quick facts: 45mm diameter x 20.12mm height – 18k pink gold – caseband hand-engraved with Snake – VC calibre 1990 – manual-winding – 299 components – 2.5Hz – 65h power reserve – retrograde hours, minutes, armillary tourbillon – openworked dial – unique piece – price upon request only
Les Cabinotiers Calibre 2755 Eagle
Brace yourself. On the horological front, this 45mm pink gold beast is packed with seven complications: a minute repeater, a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar (date, day of week, month, leap year) and a power reserve indicator. The minute repeater is a rara avis of its genre and features a centripetal system enabling effective sound diffusion and a mighty 55-hour power reserve. The action continues on to the case flanks that are engraved with an eagle. The craftsman behind this spectacular engraving has used intaglio fine line technique and delicate pounced ornament engraving, which consists in removing material to create reliefs and bring light to the artwork.
Quick facts: 45mm diameter x 13.54mm height – 18k pink gold – case flanks hand-engraved with Eagle – VC calibre 2755 – manual-winding – 602 components – 2.5Hz – 48h power reserve –hours, minutes, small seconds on tourbillon carriage at 6 o’clock – minute repeater – perpetual calendar – power reserve indicator – blue guilloché dial – unique piece – price upon request only
Les Cabinotiers 14-Day Tourbillon Lion
In this unique model, the King of the Jungle serenely surveys his surroundings, which include a tourbillon crowned with VC’s hallmark Maltese Cross symbol. On a par with the mighty feline’s strength, the movement roars for a full 14 days. The majestic lion is brought to life with a combination of techniques. The gold plate of the dial is covered with a dark brown layer and placed in the kiln. After this the artisans at CV work with ‘Blanc de Limoges’, a rare type of white Grand Feu enamelling that creates subtle shades of grey, brown and white. The sides of the 42mm pink gold case and the bezel have also been engraved with an ornamental pattern.
Quick facts: 42mm diameter x 12.97mm height – 18k pink gold – hand-engraved case flanks and bezel – combination of Grand Feu and grisaille enamelling to render Lion – VC calibre 2260 – manual-winding – 2.5Hz – 336h (14-day) power reserve – hours, minutes, tourbillon, small seconds on tourbillon carriage – power reserve indication – unique piece- price upon request only
Les Cabinotiers Mysterious Animals Tiger
The penetrating gaze of a tiger as its head peers out from a jungle of bamboo has been rendered with wonderful realism. Thanks to the ingenious layout of the functions on the dial – hours and minutes in the top two apertures and day of the week and date in the bottom ones – the dial is a blank canvas for VC’s Artistic Crafts. Fine line engraving, that requires years to master, and intaglio-type sculpting bring this white gold tiger to life surrounded by the yellow gold bamboo trees.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter x 12.4mm height – 950 platinum polished – VC calibre 2460G – automatic – 4Hz – 40h power reserve – hours, minutes, day of week and date in apertures – dial hand-engraved with yellow gold bamboos and white gold Tiger – unique piece – price upon request only
Les Cabinotiers Grisaille Falcon
Almost like a black and white photograph in its realism, the imperial falcon gracing the dial of this unique piece is executed using the rare ‘Blanc de Limoges’ enamel technique. Relying on porcelain powder instead of vitreous enamel, the powder is applied layer after layer and, just like Grand Feu enamel, fired at very high temperatures in a kiln. However, unlike enamel, the powder doesn’t flatten and rich 3D effects are obtained. Housed in a 40mm white gold case, the automatic movement features a stop-second device.
Quick facts: 40mm diameter x 9.2mm height – 18k white gold – gold dial with Grand Feu translucent and grisaille enamelling representing a Falcon – VC calibre 2460 SC – automatic – 4Hz – 40h power reserve – unique piece- price upon request only
All the Mécaniques Sauvages pieces display the Hallmark of Geneva. More details on www.vacheron-constantin.com.