The new Vacheron Constantin collection Égérie is born from the encounter and the shared values of the worlds of Haute Horlogerie and Haute Couture. An exclusive pop-up store exhibiting a selection of timepieces from the Maison’s private collection at Ginza boutique wrapped in Egerie atmosphere in Tokyo, highlights this powerful connection and the creativity cultivated by the Manufacture for more than two centuries.
- The creative universe of Vacheron Constantin has been graced with feminine interpretations since the turn of the 18th century.
- To illustrate this legacy faithfully mirroring various artistic currents, Vacheron Constantin presents in Tokyo a selection of 10 feminine models from its private collection.
- This exclusive exhibition in the Vacheron Constantin Ginza boutique in Tokyo pays tribute to the encounter of the worlds of Haute Horlogerie and Haute Couture and celebrates the feminine collection Egérie launched in February 2020.
Haute Couture and Haute Horlogerie demonstrate a powerful connection. Since the mid-20th century, Haute Couture Maisons have been governed by a set of rules that codify their activities, from the making of garments in the atelier to fashion shows. This uncompromisingly rigorous discipline naturally stimulates the imagination of these Maisons forming a whole world of style, luxury and quality. In the same way, Vacheron Constantin and Haute Horlogerie adhere to a number of precepts that ensure their timepieces stem from a blend of artistry and knowledge. Vacheron Constantin shares with Haute Couture a concern for irreproachable quality dedicated to creativity and an approach to artisanal work characteristic of the artistic crafts. Finally, one cannot evoke this closeness without mentioning the feminine universe, the privileged field of expression of Haute Couture and the embodiment of Vacheron Constantin‘s artistic sensitivity for over two centuries.
Feminine Haute Horlogerie
Women became interested in watchmaking at a very early stage of history, often in order to enhance their adornments with objects that were sometimes unusual but generally conceived as authentic jewellery. The practical aspects of these items were nonetheless not neglected, as evidenced by the many striking or calendar watches made for women. Moreover, women were the first to wear timepieces on their wrist, long before wristwatches became widespread in the first half of the 20th century. Vacheron Constantin has left its horological mark on all these periods, from the first ladies’ pocket watches made at the turn of the 18th century to elegant contemporary creations. Like the Haute Couture finery with which they are a perfect fit, they all evoke dreams and passion.
The Vacheron Constantin Heritage: a living and inspiring treasure
The Vacheron Constantin Heritage collections, comprising more than 1,300 pieces, bear witness to this formidable creative impetus in the field of ladies’ watches. With a first historical reference dating back to 1815, a yellow gold pocket watch featuring a caseband finely engraved with a floral motif enhanced with garnets, the Maison provided early demonstrations of the special attention it devoted to women. Whether functional or ceremonial timepieces, jewellery or sports watches, Vacheron Constantin’s feminine creations have always been able to capture artistic trends and adapt them to the clothing trends of the moment, to women’s changing social status, to their desires as well as their wildest whims. Since the 1800s, they have continuously influenced the Maison’s most accomplished creations.
Two centuries of creativity in one exhibition
To illustrate these two centuries of watchmaking in the feminine mode, Vacheron Constantin has selected a few pieces from its Heritage collections. In the manner of a great couturier who designs clothes for special events, the Maison has chosen these timepieces to be associated with an outfit worn at a gala, tea time, lunch or cocktail party, while not forgetting the accessory watch, an indispensable object for people of good taste.
Gala – Entirely gemset ladies’ gold and platinum watch, silver tapisserie-style dial – 1918
At the beginning of the 20th century, when opulent Art Nouveau shapes remained as appealing as ever, the wristwatches that were beginning to assert themselves on women’s wrists provided a special means of expression as jewellery telling the time. Especially so when it came to evening watches such as this Vacheron Constantin gold and platinum model that is entirely arrayed in precious stones – from the bezel adorned with brilliant-cut bead-set diamonds to the bracelet richly decorated with antique-cut bezel-set diamonds. This gala watch with its understated design delicately asserts its softly scrolling patterns thanks to the expert hands of the gemsetter.
Gala – Ladies’ diamond-set and engraved tonneau-shaped ladies’ wristwatch – 1929
In the 1920s, Vacheron Constantin embraced the aesthetic codes of the Art Deco movement. Watch silhouettes took liberties with cases that were oval or rectangular, square or barrel-shaped, as on this 1929 timepiece with pivoting lugs for greater comfort on the wrist. Creativity was also expressed through an incursion into the intricacies of jewellery arcana, while platinum made a remarkable appearance due to its properties proving ideal for watch decoration. The Haute Joaillerie special-shaped ‘form’ watch in platinum was to assert itself as a Vacheron Constantin aesthetic signature.
Tea Time – Ladies’ yellow gold and champlevé enamel pendant watch – 1834
Before attaching their watches to their wrist, women were happy to wear them as a pendant, as in this model with its delicate polychrome champlevé enamel work featuring an inspired floral motif on the cover. The caseband is adorned with engraved flowers and leaves, while the silver dial bears a guilloché pattern with a tapestry pattern. This timepiece bears witness to the feminine tastes of the period for extremely ornate jewellery watches, requiring the kind of consummate mastery of artistic crafts consistently cultivated by Vacheron Constantin.
Tea Time – Yellow gold and enamel ladies’ brooch watch, set with diamonds and featuring pounced ornament engraving and raised appliques – 1901
At the turn of the century, ladies’ watches were still widely regarded as ceremonial pieces, precious jewels whose ornamentation called on the expertise of skilled artisans that Vacheron Constantin had always encouraged and cultivated. This 1901 timepiece offers a magnificent illustration of this artistry with its gemset brooch adorned with enamelled flowers. The yellow gold case features the pounced ornament engraving technique, a delicate and irreversible operation consisting in removing material to sculpt the metal by creating a relief effect. The finishing is entrusted to the enamelling specialist for the floral decoration, itself enhanced by bead-set diamonds.
Luncheon – Platinum ladies’ brooch watch, set with diamonds and rubies, suspended from a diamond-set chain– 1925
With its typical Art Deco geometrical shapes, enhanced by exceptional gemsetting work, this ladies’ platinum brooch watch is a model of its kind. Undeniably precious with its diamonds and rubies arranged in perfect symmetry, yet delightfully uncomplicated, it also represents a horological masterpiece due to the extremely small dimensions of its calibre. Perfectly suited to the watchmaking elegance and delicacy of finely gemset models, the 7”’ calibre (2.15 x 6.5 mm) represents a genuine technical feat.
Luncheon – Ladies’ engraved yellow gold ‘secret’ watch, curved-link bracelet – 1946
From the 1940s onwards, the geometric lines of the Art Deco period gave way to more voluptuous, more exuberant shapes, reflecting the spirit of freedom pervading this period. Conceived as jewels that tell the time, ‘secret’ watches were particularly popular at this juncture, and Vacheron Constantin excelled in giving them substance. Such is the case of this yellow gold timepiece engraved with a textured motif on the bracelet featuring wide curved links. The watch thus took on additional volume and the case was seamlessly integrated into the bracelet thanks to scrupulous work on the lug design.
Cocktail – Ladies’ yellow gold “belt” watch set with diamonds and rubies – 1953
The 1950s saw the dawn of the post-war boom years, an era of openness and prosperity that witnessed the emergence of artistic ventures into daring shapes, unexpected touches and playfully non-conformist approaches. The ladies’ watch became a territory of creative expression providing scope for a variety of shapes and skilfully mixed genres. A yellow gold mesh bracelet, a ‘wrist belt’ featuring a buckle adorned with brilliant-cut bead-set rubies and diamonds, ‘secret’ watches hidden beneath decorative covers… This watch radiating an extremely elegant style carries an unmistakable hint of extravagance.
Cocktail – Ladies’ octagonal white gold wristwatch, lapis lazuli dial and woven mesh bracelet – 1972
The wild 1970s proved a formidable breeding ground for the creativity of Vacheron Constantin, more than ever inspired by special-shaped watches. It was also a decade of boldness, including through dials made of hard stones such as the lapis lazuli adorning this 1972 octagonal watch featuring a facetted glass secured by prongs, like a huge diamond. The deep blue dial colour contrasts with the white gold of the case, flowing into a polish mesh bracelet with perfectly integrated lugs.
Accessory – Engraved yellow gold ‘surprise’ pocket watch – 1928
The Roaring Twenties kindled the desire to explore new horizons. Transatlantic liners were a dream come true, as were exotic destinations. Travel watches thus became continuously worn objects enabling people to be able to check the time at any moment in an entirely private manner. Women were won over by these ‘surprise’ watches that Vacheron Constantin made with them in mind, based on Art Deco inspiration giving free rein to artistic crafts: gemsetting, guilloché, enamelling as well as engraved geometrical motifs, as seen on this 1928 yellow gold model.
Accessory – “Surprise” watch in white gold set with 18 cabochon-cut rubies, 1929
In the 1920s, Vacheron Constantin embraced the codes of Art Deco. Watch shapes became increasingly varied, ranging from the pure and rigorous lines of cases that were now oval or rectangular, square or sculpted in asymmetrical shapes, generally set with stones of two different colours. Creativity was effervescent. The jewellery watches were complemented by more discreet models meetings the needs of women who wanted to be able to read the time in all circumstances, on a daily basis or for glamorous evenings. Vacheron Constantin thus continued to produce a few pocket watches, as illustrated by its 1929 “surprise” watch in white gold set with 18 cabochon-cut rubies.
Vacheron Constantin Ginza Boutique
Tue 15 Dec – Tue 29 Dec, 2020
Weekdays 13:00-20:00, Sat/Sun/Holidays 12:00-20:00
Ginza boutique 2nd Floor
7-8-8 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo Tel: 03-3569-1755