Watches: Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Calibre 2253 Empreinte du Dragon (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on October 20, 2014

With an extraordinary regularity and an astonishing virtuosity, Vacheron Constantin revisits the ancestral techniques of engraving, gem-setting, enamelling, and guilloché that form the core of the artistic crafts applied to Fine Watchmaking. Far from only relying on proven decorative skills, the dedication of this venerable Manufacture to the Métiers d'Art is so genuine that they also dare to venture into other artistic crafts never before applied to Haute Horlogerie.

To give just a few examples, the stunning subtlety of maki-e was used for La Symbolique des Lacques, the artisans experimented with grisaille enamel for the Hommage à l'Art de la Danse, the unforgettable Les Masques collection dove into miniaturisation and art reproduction while the brand resorted to a breathtaking work of wood marquetry this year to create a splendid Eloge de la Nature.

What I really find interesting, though, is how this incredible expertise is not lost for most of the "traditional" watch collections: here and there, a specific craft will be used to pay tribute to an iconic model and offer a one-of-a-kind interpretation of this legendary piece of watchmaking enhanced by exceptional decorations. This is exactly the path that led this year to the presentation of L'Empreinte du Dragon.

In its "classic" pink gold version, the Patrimony Traditionnelle Calibre 2253 is an outstanding piece of horological craftsmanship. This beautiful piece of 44 mm with a silver opaline dial hides the complex manually-wound calibre 2253 stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva and offering a nice selection of complications relating to the Earth path.

Indeed, the 457 components of this 32 * 9.6 mm movement beating at a leisurely 18,000 vibrations per hour offers central hours and minutes as well as small seconds on the tourbillon carriage. Equipped with a perpetual calendar, it also indicates the date, day of the week, month, and leap year by hands and features an equation of time (difference between the true solar time and standard legal time) together with the sunrise and sunset times at the location chosen by the owner.

The energy left in this watch with an impressive 14-day power reserve is also indicated on the case back, visible through a sapphire crystal that allows you to admire the overall superlative finish of this movement entirely developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin and water resistant to a depth of 30 meters.

Earlier this year, the Manufacture unveiled a magnificent one-of-a-kind model in platinum with a black opaline dial for the opening of its Moscow Boutique but the Hong Kong exhibition Watches & Wonders was the perfect opportunity to introduce a truly special take on this classic adorned with the engraving work of an in-house master artisan that was awarded the prestigious title "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" in 2011 for his expertise with hand-engraving.

The masterpiece retains the same 44 mm pink gold case as the original and is still mounted on dark brown large-scale alligator strap secured by a triple-blade folding buckle adorned with a polished half Maltese cross. It even showcases the refined silver opaline face that works so well with these hues of gold and alligator leather.

The exclusivity here comes from the presence of an entirely hand-engraved case featuring a dragon-scale motif symbolising imperial power and authority in Asia. Without any transferred pattern or laser tracing to serve as a reference, the master artisan produces an harmonious pattern at the considerable depth of 4/10ths of a millimetre on the variously sized surfaces of the case, even those almost inaccessible and hardly visible.

The dexterity of the artisan and the careful choice of the motif make for an extremely refined result. Nothing looks over-the-top on this Patrimony Traditionnelle Calibre 2253 L'Empreinte du Dragon: it is the flawless marriage of Vacheron Constantin's 260 years of Haute Horlogerie know-how with their effortless sense of Beauty when it comes to using artistic crafts.

A timepiece as unique as this prestigious Manufacture…

For more information please visit the Vacheron Constantin web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures:

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