Watches: Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on January 30, 2014

The art of openworking is the central theme for Vacheron Constantin’s SIHH 2014 presentations. And, although the brand unveiled magnificent skeletonized versions of several calibres, no watches exemplify the considerable expertise and aesthetical sense of the brand’s artisans better than the four models forming the Métiers d’Art Mécaniques Ajourées collection.

I have an unconditional admiration for what Vacheron Constantin has created over the years in the fabulous Métiers d’Art series. In my view, the brand’s immense know-how of rare and complex artistic crafts is only equalled by its overflowing creativity. Like every year, I looked forward to discovering which crafts would be honoured and how beautiful the timepieces would be.

To be honest, skeletonized watches are usually not my favourites as I kind of find them a little old-fashioned in style. This year, Vacheron Constantin managed to reconcile me with the age-old craft and proved that when it is executed with a lot of aesthetic sense, there is nothing more contemporary.

The openwork of the Mécaniques Ajourées is designed to evoke the large European railway stations of the Victorian times, the golden age of the industrial revolution. The skeleton base plate and bridges received curved lines to mimic the ribbed vaults found in the ceilings of nineteenth century buildings. The artisan also used the vault motif to engrave what is left of the movement’s surfaces.

Then, to frame this beautiful openwork and bring a subtle contrast each model features a Grand Feu enamel chapter ring. In black, blue or grey, this enamel ring is surmounted by skeletonized Roman numerals to enhance the 3-dimensional architecture of the watch.

As a final treat, for this collection, the brand decided to offer the very first operwork version of an in-house movement, the time-only 4400 calibre. It is housed in a classic 40 mm white gold case secured by a black alligator strap for the Mécaniques Ajourées - Grey Enamel and Mécaniques Ajourées - Black Enamel models. The Mécaniques Ajourées - Blue Enamel watch received a dark blue alligator strap. Lastly, Vacheron Constantin created a high-jewellery version, the Mécaniques Ajourées - Black Enamel Diamonds set with 54 baguette-cut diamonds for approximately 2.80 carats and paired with a black alligator strap.

Vacheron Constantin is great at doing stunning watches but they are equally good at offering us beautiful pictures of the final products as well as of the artisans at work. I therefore encourage you to click on the watches below to access the database and enjoy these outstanding pictures. You can also scroll down to discover our live pictures of these watches taken during the SIHH. Although not of the same quality as those taken by the brand, they still give you another perspective of this exceptional set.