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Master Watchmaking Meets Masterpiece: Vacheron Constantin Partners with the Louvre

Vacheron Constantin and the Louvre Museum Blend Fine Art and Watchmaking

In May, Vacheron Constantin announced the latest from its “Les Cabinotiers” series, a chance to wear a masterpiece on your wrist. As part of its ongoing partnership with the Louvre Museum in France, the Swiss watchmaker now offers its clients the opportunity to choose from a vast array of artwork from the collection of the museum and have it re-created on the dial for a unique timepiece all their own. Just imagine: icons like Titian’s The Pastoral Concert, Caravaggio’s The Death of the Madonna, or Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People, rendered on 40-or-so millimeters.

Vacheron Constantin and the Louvre first came together in 2019 after supporting the watchmaker’s restoration of The Creation of the World, a major 18th-century clock gifted to King Louis XV in 1754. In 2020, Vacheron Constantin participated in the Bid for the Louvre auction benefiting The Studio, transferring Pierre Paul Rubens’s La lutte pour l’étendard de la Bataille d’Anghiari (1603) onto a unique piece “Les Cabinotiers” watch. To capture the detailed and dynamic image of soldiers on horseback in battle—a drawing based on a da Vinci painting now lost to time—Vacheron Constantin’s master enameler used the technique of Geneva miniature painting and blanc de Limoges.

Last year, the watchmaker turned to four artworks and artifacts in the Louvre collection for its “Métiers d’Art” collection, entitled Tribute to Great Civilizations. It was a stunning culmination of the ongoing engagement with the museum and showcase of Vacheron Constantin’s métiers d’art. The Great Sphinx of Tanis was made in carved gold appliqué, coming to life on a dial of gold hieroglyphs on blue and black enamels. The Lion de Darius was replicated using a rare technique of stone marquetry. Victoire de Samothrace—the Greek god Nike—was created with a difficult-to-achieve brown enamel complemented by grisaille enameling. The Buste d’Auguste was imagined in carved gold appliqué, framed by a micro-mosaic of more than six hundred colored stones. And it all was masterfully done on a less-than-40-millimeter dial!

Vacheron Constantin The making of Homages to Pierre Paul Rubens, La lutte pour l’etendard de la Bataille d’Anghiari, courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.

Wear a Masterpiece on Your Wrist with Vacheron Constantin x The Louvre Museum

The possibility of capturing a grand artwork on a watch can only be achieved thanks to Vacheron Constantin’s long commitment to its métiers d’art. Since its founding in 1755, the watchmaker has kept the work of artisans at the center of its creative and technical process. It has fostered, supported, and trained master craftsmen for centuries in the art of enameling, engraving, guilloché, and gem-setting. “Such crafts were particularly prominent in Geneva in the 18th and 19th centuries, through a network of artisans and craftsmen working as independent specialists, a community called ‘La Fabrique,’ at the service of prestige manufactures such as ours,” said Christian Selmoni, director of heritage and style at Vacheron Constantin. “Considering the importance of these four crafts in Vacheron Constantin’s designs and style, we have always taken the responsibility of perpetuate them, thus we created, within our manufacture, our own métiers d’art workshop in which, day after day, we are maintaining, preserving and transmitting this tradition.”

Since the 19th century, Vacheron Constantin has focused on furthering these highly detailed decorative crafts alongside watchmaking complications such as chiming, resulting in a workshop where designers and master artisans work closely together. “This spirit is pretty much driven by the choice of pushing the boundaries of their art, and driven by passion and willing to always learn, test new ideas, face new challenges and improve,” said Selmoni. Historically, examples of master watchmaking and métiers d’art techniques have come together in pieces like pocket watches, covered in enameled miniature paintings created with grand feu enamel, which requires not only artistry but the skill of multiple firings in order to achieve. A more contemporary example Selmoni calls to mind is the Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières, which offers an aerial view of a city at night with a black enameled background from a champlevé technique and a dial of thirty thousand tiny grains of gold, platinum, and diamonds to replicate city lights created with the Japanese artist Yoko Imai.

The Égérie collection Making of the Égérie collection, courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.

Vacheron Constantin x The Louvre Museum Features Pristine Craftsmanship and Métiers d’Art

The specific métiers d’art know-how needed to create such unique pieces today have been passed down from one generation of artisans at Vacheron Constantin to the next, often thanks to a continuation of craft within its women’s collections. “Given the strong appeal and taste for crafts from our feminine clientele, not surprisingly we have numerous examples all along our history. Obviously, gem-setting, engraving, enameling, and guilloché have been very present through feminine watches, whether bracelets, pendants, brooches, or secret watches,” said Selmoni.

That heritage of artisanry in women’s watches at Vacheron Constantin is celebrated in its “Egérie” collection, which debuted in 2020, and last year launched a new model, featuring fine Burano lace–inspired detailing, diamond pavé embellishments, and a pleated effect that dazzles. “‘Egérie’ is inspired by the universe of haute couture, highlighted by a pleated motif in the center of the dial, which is created with the ‘tapestry’ technique, a craft close to guilloché. The use of tapestry confers a very delicate and feminine character to the whole timepiece,” said Selmoni. “Egérie” combines haute horlogerie with haute couture, sparkling with texture, light, shape, and femininity.

Vacheron Constantin’s dedication to the transmission of craft and know-how—be it in its women’s innovations or “Métiers d’Art” collections—has led the watchmaker to this moment today, where it can offer the fantastic feat of the re-creation of an overwhelming assortment of artwork in the Louvre on its dial. Clients will not only be able to work directly with the workshop, as is the case with any Les Cabinotiers watch, but they’ll also get to be part of a unique collaboration between watchmaker and Louvre art historian. “The partnership between Vacheron Constantin and the Musée du Louvre is an additional—and very exclusive—opportunity to extend this unique watchmaking and artistic experience to a cultural experience, by being in touch with the Louvre’s curators to choose the original artwork and enter the museum’s secrets that the large audience won’t ever see,” said Sandrine Donguy, product and innovation director at Vacheron Constantin.

The watchmaker’s “Masterpiece on the Wrist” offering is an experience to engage with artisanry and art, heritage and history, right up close. It’s a truly staggering opportunity to have an artwork revered for centuries transferred to a timepiece, its spirit and the artist’s intention wholly captured. And one that could only have been achieved through Vacheron Constantin’s devotion to craft, innovation, and the art of our times.

Vacheron Constantin The art of engraving, photo by Bruno Ehrs, courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.
The Égérie collection The Égérie collection, courtesy of Vacheron Constantin.

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