Watches: Vacheron Constantin L'Eloge de la Nature (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on October 9, 2014

Despite the huge pro-democracy protests in at least three major thoroughfares on Hong Kong's main island and across the harbour, the second edition of Watches & Wonders, the Haute Horlogerie exhibition in Asia opened its doors on September 30th and was the focus of attention for all watch lovers around the world.

This is indeed exciting news as some of the thirteen luxury brands that made the trip from Switzerland clearly see this salon as a second SIHH and use this excellent opportunity to split the release of their novelties across the year. Vacheron Constantin has undoubtedly understood the countless possibilities that this window to Asia can bring in terms of brand’s image and awareness.

The venerable manufacture dazzles us once again with an explosion of stunning novelties: 19 new timepieces to be precise if we count the Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time Excellence Platine presented hereFlash News: Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time Excellence Platine and the Patrimony Traditionnelle Day-Date and Power Reserve Excellence Platine already discussed hereWatches: Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Day-Date and Power Reserve Excellence Platine as pre-Watches & Wonders releases. As I said, this the second SIHH of the year!

It goes without saying that each and every one of these marvels will be discussed on Watch Agora with our live pictures from the event. The hardest part is to determine which ones will be introduced first to our readers! For no other reason than my unconditional admiration of the brand’s “Métiers d’Art” series, I have decided to kick off these thorough photo-reportages with the new poetic opus in a collection that highlights Vacheron Constantin’s passion for artistic crafts in addition to its devotion to Fine Watchmaking.

Eloge de la Nature (Praise of Nature): the name of this collection blending oriental and western references is already an invitation to travel the world of almost instinct and delightfully refined decorative techniques. For these three-of-a-kind exceptional creations, the brand relied on the cleverly arranged 2460 G4 calibre they already used for many other “Les Métier d’Art” timepieces like The Four Seasons, Les Masques, or The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac.

Despite providing important trailing hours and minutes information as well as jumping date and day of the week indications, this self-winding calibre stamped with the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva provides a large central free area on the dial for the artisans to showcase their decorative skills. For this collection, it is housed in a classic round 40 mm case crafted in pink gold and mounted on a brown large-scale hand-stitched Mississippiendis alligator strap secured by a triple blade folding clasp featuring a polished half-Maltese cross. The sapphire crystal on the back reveals the 22-karat gold oscillating weight adorned by a dynamic geometrical pattern also inspired by this insignia and the overall beauty of this impeccably finished movement.

Of course, the unicity and irresistible appeal of each timepiece lies in the breathtaking beauty of the animal scene that adorns the dial. As usual, several ornamental techniques were necessary on each model to produce such a vibrant tribute to naturalism. Although some of them are among those we knew the brand mastered, the demonstration of expertise involves venturing into new grounds: wood marquetry! But the best way to acknowledge Vacheron Constantin’s unrivalled know-how is to take them one at a time and dissect the crafts responsible for so much beauty…

L'Eloge de la Nature - Horses

The first creation strongly evokes the wide-open spaces of the Wild West with three thoroughbreds wandering in the meadow. The realism with which the engraver managed to carve them into pink gold is absolutely incredible: the velvety feel of the coat, the volume of the mane and the tail are beautifully captured, just like the diversity of the grass. Snow-capped mountains executed in wood marquetry form the background decoration and bring additional sense of depth to the dial. Some ninety tiny pieces of wood from different essences and textures are used to give life to this little scene.

Find out more about the Vacheron Constantin L'Eloge de la Nature - Horses Pink Gold

L'Eloge de la Nature – Chamois

The second scene could very well take place in one of these mountains: two chamois skip merrily between rocks and residual slabs of snow. Once again the engraver perfectly recreated the dense fur coat of these animals and gave them an extremely life-like posture: no small feasts if you consider the size of these sculptures! The wood marquetry takes centre stage now and through a clever selection of wood texture and veins, the subtle white and beige background suddenly appears realistic.

The "background" of the dial is made of assembled tiny pieces of wood

Here you can see the meticulous assembling process

Find out more about the Vacheron Constantin L'Eloge de la Nature - Chamois Pink Gold

L'Eloge de la Nature – Cranes

The talent of the engraver have also been used to create the two flying cranes of the last piece. Through volume, light effects and texture, he managed one more time to capture this important bird of the Asian iconography that symbolises longevity and wisdom as they fly over a vast expanse of water. Here, the artisans show how gifted they are with the complex champlevé guillochage technique as they used linear and circular patterns to create the undulation of water. The surface was then covered with translucent blue Grand Feu enamel to mimic the colour of the waves.

Find out more about the Vacheron Constantin L'Eloge de la Nature - Cranes Pink Gold

For more information please visit the Vacheron Constantin web site.