The swan glides majestically over the crystalline waters of Lake Geneva, tiny droplets from the Jet d’eau sliding across its immaculate white plumage and head held high atop a supple neck radiating a powerful aura of nobility. Vacheron Constantin reproduces this exquisite gracefulness on two distinctively graphic dials highlighting each beautiful detail of the swan: a white gold palmiped set with round-cut diamonds and spreading its wings on a finely guilloché, enamelled stretch of water.

Engraver, guillocheur, enameller and gem-setter: four artisans have in turn devoted their endeavours to this dial. Two months of work have been lavished on crafting the dials. The composition begins with delicate hand engraving on an 18-carat white gold plate. Volumes, recessed and raised areas, texture and light effects: each millimetre is the object of a deliberate creative approach. To attain such a superlative degree of refinement, the engraver has developed his own tools, all the while imagining distinctive and appropriate techniques designed to guarantee the eagerly anticipated result. After drawing the outlines of the bird, the artisan fashions the feathers one by one. The sharp graving tool incises the material, forming a herringbone pattern on the men’s model and a more curved motif on the ladies’ version. The engraver’s dexterity gives each feather a distinctive satin-brushed and polished finish.

The swan spreads its wings above a stretch of water depicting a gentle ripple motif. Above it, a gentle "visual breeze" ruffles the dial through the work of the guillocheur. The artisan has traced narrow geometrical grooves on the already-decorated dial, meaning he had to carefully adjust his rose- engine lathe so as not to damage the tiny gold filaments.

© Vacheron Constantin

The guilloché motifs are coated with a translucent Grand Feu enamel, sky blue for the ladies’ version and night blue for the men’s model. Hand applying the coloured enamels, melting and fusing them at a temperature of between 800° and 900°C, followed by vitrification (also known as glazing) to create a translucent brilliance: each of these production stages necessarily involves unexpected factors. Here too, the result is never secure until the final phase, and no flaws can be tolerated, since they would mean starting the entire creation over from scratch. Finally, a “Limoges white” enamelling is applied to the upper part of the engraved feathers so as to accentuate their luminosity.

Last comes an equally delicate phase: gem-setting. 76 baguette-cut diamonds adorning the bezel and lugs frame this naturalist scene. The gently rounded curves of the swan’s body are paved with snow- set round-cut diamonds. This extremely special technique gives considerable expressive freedom, enabling the artisan to create distinctive effects by playing in an apparently random manner with the varyingly sized precious stones. Finally, the base of the swan’s wings is diamond-paved, with each feather delineated by a fine gold line.

These one-of-a-kind creations bear the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva. © Vacheron Constantin

In keeping with its rich tradition of original and varied displays, Vacheron Constantin perpetuates the watchmaking art by offering an ingenious hand-free visualisation of time. This is achieved through four apertures respectively showing the hours, minutes, day and date. The indications – the first two of the dragging or trailing type and the last two of the jumping variety – appear through these windows regularly placed around the rim of the dial and leaving plenty of space for a central motif.

Beating at a frequency of 28,800 v.p.h., the mechanical self-winding movement is equipped with a 22-carat gold oscillating weight adorned with a dynamic geometrical shape inspired by Vacheron Constantin’s signature Maltese Cross emblem. The movement is protected by an 18-carat white gold case with a transparent back providing a chance to admire the fine workmanship inside. A Mississippiensis alligator leather strap secured by an 18-carat white gold folding clasp shaped like a half Maltese Cross sets the perfect finishing touch.

This pair of timepieces, a ladies’ model with a 39 mm-diameter case and a 42 mm men’s model, reveals the privileged ties Vacheron Constantin enjoys with the decorative arts. © Vacheron Constantin