Vacheron Constantin and Haute Joaillerie
In the world of time and precision, the craftsman’s hand plays an essential role. Through gestures inherited from past centuries, it sets out to conquer matter, lingering over the smallest details, while finding the path to perfection armed with patience and concentration. Within the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin, the experienced exponents of the Métiers d’Art (artistic crafts) orchestrate their skills to sublimate watch mechanisms and transform them into works of art.
Among these numerous manual talents, jewellery and gemsetting accompany watchmakers in fulfilling their wildest decorative dreams. Like the alchemists of old, gemsetter-jewellers give life to the raw material by turning it into an eternally sparkling treasure. Precious stone by stone, these artisans of light shape a vision of time that is not counted off, but instead lived to the full. An authentic work of art in its own right, the new Haute Joaillerie Haute Couture à Pampilles brilliantly illustrates the magical, indissoluble ties that the Manufacture continues to weave with both Art and Craftsmanship.
Vacheron Constantin and ladies’ watches: a story of passion
Fully grasping Vacheron Constantin’s legitimacy in the field of feminine jewellery watches implies retracing its history to 1820, when the first pocket-watches specially designed for women first appeared in Switzerland. Smaller than their equivalents for men, as well as more fanciful, they required a gift for miniaturisation and a wealth of decorative talents mastered only by a select circle of watchmakers that included Vacheron Constantin.
In the late 19th century, the wristwatch began to assert its aesthetic and functional legitimacy. History unequivocally shows that it was first and foremost designed for women before being adopted by men… Vacheron Constantin immediately sensed the potential represented by the ladies’ watch market. In 1887, the brand created a series of 30 watches for women – a considerable amount for the time, and an event in itself, since it was one of the world’s very first series-made wristwatches. Loyal to the company’s reputation for fine workmanship, it was equipped with a revolutionary system serving to both wind the watch and set the time simply by rotating the bezel and thus obviating the need for a winding-crown. This historical watch won an award at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1889.
In the 20th century, an impressive feat of miniaturisation laid a new milestone in this field: the baguette-shaped wristwatch – the thinnest in the world – housing a calibre made in 1914 by Vacheron Constantin and featuring a winding-crown placed on the back of the case opened up whole new aesthetic horizons for jewellery watches, while nonetheless meeting the brand’s high precision standards. Today, the Kalla watch line uses the Vacheron Constantin 1005 movement, a direct heir to the original calibre launched in 1914.
1979: Kallista, etymologically “the most beautiful”
In 1979, the know-how of the venerable Maison once again put its name in the history books with the sculptural Kallista watch, carved from a solid gold ingot and stemming from 6,000 hours of manual workmanship. The Greek origins of this word, which means “the most beautiful”, are reminiscent of Greek mythology which held that diamonds were the tears of the gods… 118 emerald-cut stones weighing a record total of 130 carats flow liberally over the slender profile of the watch with its hand-wound movement that is the world’s thinnest in its category.
The owner of this creation certainly made the right choice by demanding absolute exclusivity: in harmony with the spirit of the 18th century cabinotiers, Kallista is truly one of a kind. This Haute Joaillerie masterpiece inspired the noble lineage of Kalla watches, including the famous Lady Kalla, which in 2001 won the Best Jewellery Watch award in the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix.
In 2009, the Maison celebrated the 30th anniversary of this legendary model by unveiling a new jewellery record, the Kallania watch set with 186 diamonds totalling around 157 carats. This major feat was accompanied by a new Malte Tourbillon Regulator, arrayed in the much sought-after invisible setting and embodying a splendid alliance between high-end horological complications and high-end jewellery. In parallel, two new exceptional ladies’ watches were created: the Lady Kalla Flamme and the Kalla Haute Couture à Secrets, both adorned with flame-cut diamonds. Used for the first time in watchmaking, the flame cut thus became a new signature feature of Vacheron Constantin creations.
Kalla Haute Couture à Pampilles
The embodiment of passion
Contemporary and yet timeless, the epitome of jewellery craftsmanship and horological skills, the new Kalla Haute Couture à Pampilles pays dazzling homage to the Métiers d’Art of the Manufacture. Its name proclaims its heritage of the finesse, sophistication and originality characterising the finest Haute Couture creations. Its supple, airy aesthetic provides a fresh illustration of the constantly renewed creativity of the in-house designers.
Like a delicately luminous embroidery on which time has no hold, the Kalla Haute Couture à Pampilles, adorned with approximately 28.9 carats of gems, revives the tradition of “secret” watches that enabled 19th century watches to check the time in an exquisitely discreet manner. The precious stones concealing the hours and minutes beneath a paved cover are enhanced by the graceful motion of four mobile strands. Far more than just a watch, this splendid bracelet unfolds its ethereally dainty white gold silhouette entirely set with diamonds.
Combining brilliant, flame and princess cuts, this piece literally comes to life on the wrist. Introduced into the watchmaking world by Vacheron Constantin in 2009, the flame cut shines in dazzling radiance as its 57 facets infinitely reflect and refract the light. The unique radiance is further enhanced by a tapering asymmetrical profile that opens up unexplored creative paths in which feelings supersede rigorous rules. The originality of the flame cut, the only one to feature both a right and left cut, required the development of a dedicated gemsetting technique.
In order to accentuate this sensation of vibrant life, the Vacheron Constantin designers and jewellers have created an escort for the flame-cut diamonds composed of princess- and brilliant-cut stones, thereby playing with varying shapes and carats to impart a magnificent overall visual rhythm. The entirely hand-crafted mesh construction keeps material to an absolute minimum in order to let the diamonds do the talking. Like delicate lacework, they settle gently on the wrist to clasp it in a splendid embrace. Once revealed, the dial entirely paved with a glittering bed of brilliant-cut diamonds serves as a vivid reminder that time is infinitely and eternally precious.
The two ribbons of the bracelet play on a contrast in styles by confronting princess and flame cuts: one in a rigorously geometrical Art Deco spirit, and the other in a more fluid, organic Art Nouveau style. This jewellery inspired means of securing the watch to the wrist sets the perfect aesthetic finishing touch to a model beating to the rhythm of a prestigious mechanical heart: the famous hand-wound Calibre 1005 with the crown on the back of the movement, designed after the historical Vacheron Constantin baguette movement.