In the Les Cabinotiers collection for 2023, titled “Récits de Voyages”, Vacheron Constantin draws inspiration from its historical international expansion for Les Cabinotiers “Memorable Places” – a quartet of unique timepieces, each featuring a micro-sculpted gold dials inspired by significant architectural landmarks in cities across Asia as well as Vacheron Constantin’s home of Geneva.
As a collection, Les Cabinotiers embodies the quintessence of haute horlogerie, placing a distinct focus on crafting highly decorated timepieces for those who exclusively pursue the highest standards in watchmaking and artisanal craftsmanship. Though these unique creations are not entirely novel – Blancpain debuted a series of similar watches several years ago – it is truly delightful to witness the brand consistently surpass conventional expectations and create wearable works of art for the wrist.
Among the four timepieces, a standout is the model featuring the entrance gate to Angkor Thom in Cambodia. The brand’s engravers have meticulously replicated every detail, capturing the foliage and serene visages of the past rulers of the Khmer Empire atop the temple. This intricate work is accomplished through hand engraving in various shades of gold.
The choices of landmarks – namely two in China, one in Cambodia – no doubt reflect the brand’s client base. While it could be seen as a little incongruous to feature Geneva among these Asian wonders, it stands as a nice reminder of where everything started for this brand.
Inspired by landmarks
The Memorable Places series draws significant inspiration from various architectural landmarks in Geneva and Asia, as depicted in 19th-century illustrations made by French lithographers. This era witnessed a rising interest in Asia among Westerners, a consequence of the growth of commerce following Western powers’ expansion in the region. Prospective collectors are being presented with four distinctive variations, each being a single-piece creation for their selection.
The first variation is the La Tour de l’Île, inspired by an illustration by the French lithographer Auguste Deroy (1823-1906). It is noteworthy that this location was the former site of Vacheron Constantin and its watchmaking workshops before their relocation to the nearby Quai des Moulins in 1875.
Following that is The Entrance Gate to Angkor Thom, portraying a 12th century temple of the Khmer Empire that covered present-day Cambodia. The dial draws heavily from a print by the French engraver Louis Delaporte (1842-1925), depicting the southern gateway to the temple.
The third creation is Old Summer Palace, the former Qing Dynasty palace that once housed an imperial collection of artworks and antiquities, along with European-style palaces and gardens built in the 18th century. Unfortunately, it was subsequently destroyed in 1860 by British and French forces during the Second Opium War.
Lastly, the fourth and final creation is Entrance Gate to Confucius Temple and Imperial College Museum, depicting the 14th-century Temple of Confucius within Beijing’s Forbidden City complex. The dial is largely inspired by a drawing from Emile Thérond (1821-1883), reproduced in a travelogue published in 1863.
With meticulous expertise, the craftsmen from the Les Cabinotiers workshop intricately crafted the various illustrations in painstaking detail. Employing precise dial-making techniques such as micro-sculpting and line-engraving, the brand’s craftsmen skilfully work on delicate gold plates ranging from 0.4 to 0.8 mm in thickness. The artists adhere to the constraint of not surpassing 0.1-0.2 mm in the engraving process.
This stringent limitation means that each dial requires no less than 200 hours of painstaking work with no room for error. Notably, in the case of the dials created for Angkor Thom and Old Summer Palace, the foliage of the trees has been intricately damascened, adding an extra layer of artistry to this meticulous craftsmanship.
Except for the La Tour de l’Île model, which is housed in 18k white gold, the other timepieces in the Memorable Places series are in 18k pink gold. All models share identical case dimensions, with a diameter of 40 mm and 9.10 mm high.
All four models from the series are equipped with the cal. 1120. Updated back in 2010, this self-winding movement with its ultra-thin characteristics, measures 28.40 mm in diameter and 2.45 mm thick, features an 18k oscillating weight fashioned in the shape of the brand’s emblem, the Maltese Cross.
Key facts and price
Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers “Memorable Places”
Ref. 2000C/000R-103C (Entrance Gate to Angkor Thom)
Ref. 2000C/000R-105C (Entrance Gate to Confucius Temple and Imperial College Museum)
Ref. 2000C/000R-104C (Old Summer Palace)
Ref. 2000C/000G-106C (Tour de l’Ile)
Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 9.1 mm
Material: 18k pink gold or white gold
Water resistance: Not available
Movement: Cal. 1120
Functions: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 19,800 beats per hour (2.75 Hz)
Power reserve: 40 hours
Strap: Alligator leather strap with pin buckle
Limited edition: Each is a unique piece
Availability: At Vacheron Constantin boutiques only
Price: Price on Request
For more information, visit Vacheron-constantin.com.
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