Now restored, “La Création du Monde” belonging to the collection of the French National Châteaux de Versailles and Trianon Museum and officially deposited at the Louvre Museum, is exhibited in the former library of the Villemaré-Dangé mansion, at the first floor of the Sully sector.
As patron of this aesthetic and functional restoration process, Vacheron Constantin is proud that all the beauty and ingenuity of this exceptional clock, reviving after three years of work. One of the secrets of the success and longevity of the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin lies in its constant obsession with transmitting, advancing and perpetuating its expertise and its knowledge of horology. An obsession that now enables it to restore all the watches produced since its founding in 1755, while maintaining complete respect for the watchmaking techniques and professional ethics relating to all the watches produced since its founding in 1755. Moreover, in keeping with its motto “Do better if possible, and that is always possible”, the Maison is innovating through a progress-driven approach by drawing inspiration form its own creations and from those of the grand masters of watchmaking history. This philosophy has given rise to a desire to contribute to restoring masterpieces of the worldwide watchmaking heritage that have inspired and will continue to inspire generations of watchmakers. It was in the Louvre museum that Vacheron Constantin discovered the “La Création du Monde” clock. The Manufacture expressed its desire to become the patron of the aesthetic and functional restoration of this masterpiece in partnership with the Louvre museum, who has mandated the Atelier Chronos, specialising in the restoration and conservation of watches and clocks for the French museums grouped under the “Musées de France” label.
An artwork with a rich history
Created in the mid-18th century, at the expense and at the request of Joseph-François Dupleix de Bacquencourt, then General Governor of the seaports in India, “La Création du Monde” was a clock intended as a diplomatic to Salabetzingue, Nabab of the province of Deccan.
First presented in February 1754 at the court of King Louis XV of France in Versailles, the clock was sent by ship to Pondichery on August 25th that same year, accompanied by the horologist Dutertre. Meanwhile Dupleix had been dismissed from his post by King Louis XV and returned to France in October 1754. The clock was no longer to serve as a diplomatic gift. The clockmaker and the clock were shipped back from Pondichery on September 4th 1755.
Restoration and renaissance of the tangible heritage
After lengthy restoration work, the exceptional “La Création du Monde” clock is once again ticking smoothly. Crafted by engineer and mechanic Claude-Siméon Passemant, “La Création du Monde”, which was only partially operational, is a work of remarkable technical complexity and rare aesthetic virtuosity combining watchmaking techniques and artistic crafts. A watchmaker, bronze-smelter, engraver, chiseller and other artisans all applied their talent to this work whose allegorical form depicting the four fundamental elements (Air, Earth, Water and Fire) imposed exceptional constraints on watchmakers. The restoration of this piece by a specialised workshop not only made it possible to bring up to standard the various mechanisms and complications required to ensure its smooth operation, but also made it possible to conduct historical research on the history of this clock and the watchmaking of the era. The three years of restoration were punctuated by various phases in the process. The restoration of the mechanisms and their liaison elements gave rise to the most challenges and discoveries. From the striking mechanism to the repair of the running equation of time, as well as the workings of the globe, the moon phases of the planetarium, each aspect of the endeavour called for hours of work, calculation and modelling in order to bring this high-precision clock back to life.
The restoration workshop – in line with professional ethics, in accordance with the conservation and restoration policy of the Louvre Museum, and with the support of Vacheron Constantin and its determination to oversee “the best possible restoration work” – conducted an entirely reversible conservation-restoration process. This means that each newly made component can be removed and replaced by the one that had been previously damaged and/or degraded; or simply removed and left missing as it was prior to the intervention. None of the materials used are liable to damage the work over the medium or long term, and all are deliberately identifiable and recognisable by their markings, shapes or materials.