After looking at ethnology with Les Masques, Japan with the Symbolique des Laques and dance with the Degas ballerinas, Vacheron Constantin now turns a new page in its great saga of the artistic crafts. The theme has never been used before in watchmaking, its treatment is unique and even the case used to house it is new.

The trilogy of the Savoir Enluminés refers to a work of the 12th century, the Aberdeen Bestiary – a richly illuminated manuscript that takes its name from the Scottish city where it is kept. Enigmatic because of its sumptuousness and its strength, but also because of its uncertain origin, the work is dedicated to the animal and plant kingdom and the symbolism of creatures. It is thus an ideal source of inspiration for a collection that is worthwhile for the idea itself as much as for its graphical impact. Everyone can identify with the three decorations on these watches.

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Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoir Enluminés « Vultures ». © Vacheron Constantin

The Savoirs Enluminés collection must be considered on two levels. On the right, a recessed gold dial is engraved with texts from the illuminated manuscript, a text that pays homage to the creative force of Nature. Along the line that dissects the dial, a retrograde hour hands describes the arc of a circle against a minute scale that has been discreetly applied to the text background. A raised medallion on the left grabs the attention.

On a gold base that has been worked by hand to mimic the texture of parchment, an animal in miniature grand feu enamel comes to life thanks to its fine lines and rich colours. A pair of pink vultures symbolise infinity and longevity. A goat in bright blue represents the capacity of discernment. The third piece features a kingfisher, a maritime bird that always builds its nest serenely, whatever the meteorological conditions may be. Each miniature animal shows an incredible level of detail and is perfectly smooth. They were created in the workshops of Anita Porchet, the enameller who signs most of the artistic crafts models for Vacheron Constantin.

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Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoir Enluminés « Altion ». © Vacheron Constantin

But above and beyond the dial and the movement, the Savoirs Enluminés are watches and their case is also exceptional. Vacheron Constantin did not take recourse to its existing library of case shapes. It designed this white-gold TV-style case especially for the occasion. Half-way between a square shape with rounded corners and a cushion shape with slight angles, the TV shape has become a rarity. At a size of 40 x 49 mm, its comfort on the wrist is almost self-evident, especially given its decent thickness, which is a result of the mechanical movement and the space required by the gold dial. But all this remains hidden behind a veil of colour and detail, which is in turn hidden under a sleeve. Time passes by but the secret of a precious symbol remains.

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Close-up on the « Caper » model. Note the blue gradient, the level of finish on the lines and the use of a 22-carat gold base. © WorldTempus / David Chokron