Hands-On with the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés

Featuring elaborate, hand-made dials, the Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés are inspired by medieval manuscripts and rendering in gold and enamel. We go up close with the trio, complete with photos and pricing.

Vacheron Constantin equips many of its most elaborately decorated Métiers d’Art timepieces with movements featuring unconventional time displays. The Chinese zodiac limited editions, for example, show the time and calendar in four apertures. On the other hand, the Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés is more subtle, with a wandering hour indication that leaves most of the dial empty, turning it into a canvas for the artisanal crafts, or métiers d’artFrom page to dial A series of three watches, the Savours Enluminés is inspired by the Aberdeen Bestiary, a 12th century illuminated manuscript, essentially an elaborate medieval book; a bestiary is a text dedicated to creatures, real and mythical. Lavishly adorned with gold leaf and coloured paintings, the Aberdeen Bestiary is one of the finest examples of a medieval illuminated manuscript.

Caper, the goat the symbolises wisdom

Each of the Savours Enluminés watches reproduces one creature from the pages of the bestiary: “Altion”, the seabird; “Vultures”; and the goat, “Caper”. These motifs are rendered in enamel that encompasses both the techniques of miniature painting and champlevé (which is filling an engraved recess with enamel). 

A pair of vultures forming a circle, representing infinity 
The name of the creature depicted on the dial is engrave on the flank of the case
Altion, the seabird of serenity

The dial is 22k yellow gold, and in two parts. The upper level features the enamelled creature in vivid colours, with a texture that is intentionally aged. Using brushes and rubber erasers, a random brushed finish is applied on its surface to mimic the look of ancient gold leaf on the pages of the bestiary.

To its right is the lower portion of the dial, which is also the minute track. This has a matte, frosted finish, with relief lettering that reproduces text from the bestiary. Resembling calligraphy, the letters are executed in the same font as on the page.

The minute track runs from the top to the bottom of the dial, with the time indicate by the floating hour numeral. As it travels from top to bottom, the hour numeral indicates the minutes, which is why this type of display is known as a wandering hours. The mechanism is similar to that found in the Urwerk UR-105 and Audemars Piguet Star Wheel.

Visible from the back is the base movement, the calibre 1120. An ultra-thin automatic movement originally designed in the 1970s by Jaeger-LeCoultre (and famous for being found in the original 1972 Audemars Piguet Royal Oak), the calibre 1120 is now manufactured in-house by Vacheron Constantin (as well as Audemars Piguet). Here the rotor is decorated with an engraved relief floral motif.

Specs and price  The movement has a 40 hour power reserve, while the case is the same as that found in the Harmony chronographs unveiled earlier in 2015, here in white gold with a 40 mm diameter. Each of the Métiers d’Art Savoirs Enluminés is to 20 pieces, and priced at €100,000 or US$119,000 before taxes.

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