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INTRODUCING: Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art The Legend Of The Chinese Zodiac – Year Of The Rabbit

Because the Lunar New Year is a hop, skip, and a jump away.

We may be just approaching the final leg of 2022, but Vacheron Constantin is already raring to show us what it has in store to usher in the Year of the Rabbit. Lest you think that the Swiss Manufacture is a tad too eager to jump the gun, Chinese New Year comes relatively early in 2023 – 22 January, to be exact – and it never hurts to prepare ahead. Continuing its own Spring Festival tradition, the brand is presenting its latest Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac watch, of course, this time in tribute to the Rabbit. 

The Calibre 2460 by Vacheron Constantin.
The Calibre 2460 has four discs for the calendrical display.

To fully appreciate the Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac series of celebratory timepieces, it is perhaps pertinent to first talk about the Calibre 2460 G4 powering them. Instead of using hands to tell the time, the movement displays the hours, minutes, day, and date via apertures at the 2, 4, 8, and 10 o’clock positions. By employing this calibre, the watch is able to literally put the artistry of its dial front and centre, leaving plenty of unobstructed space on its mien free for the Manufacture’s artisans to express their expertise in, well, métiers d’art.

The Vacheron Constantin Metiers d'Art Year of the Rabbit features an engraved rabbt on an enamelled background with a floral motif.
The Vacheron Constantin Metiers d'Art Year of the Rabbit features an engraved rabbt on an enamelled background with a floral motif.

The floral motif of the dial is executed in the style of jianzhi or traditional Chinese paper-cutting, which is serendipitously echoed by the famous Swiss technique of Scherenschnitt . However, instead of using paper and scissors, the master engravers had a gold base as their canvas, etching the classic Chinese iconography in the precious metal, creating variously accentuating reliefs and making the vegetation appear to be floating above the dial.

Next, the dial underwent Grand Feu enamelling, a centuries-old technique mastered by very few particularly skilled artisans. The enamel was applied in successive layers, carefully coating the intricate engravings, with firing at temperatures between 800 and 900 degrees Celsius for each layer. To achieve the intense blue or warm bronze tones of the final product we see is no mean feat, as it takes enamel specialists years of experience to acquire the mastery of colour in their craft.

A master enameller applies enamel to the dial. Multiple layers and firings are needed to achieve the intense colours seen on the watch.
A master enameller applies enamel to the dial. Multiple layers and firings are needed to achieve the intense colours seen on the watch.

Finally, the Rabbit, made of platinum or pink gold, is delicately applied to the dial, taking its rightful place at centre stage. Encumbered by traditional central watch hands, Vacheron Constantin made full use of the space between the dial and crystal to showcase a life-like miniature sculpture of the agile animal. A symbol of graciousness, kindness, and benevolence, the Rabbit here was painstakingly handcrafted by skilled engravers in great detail, from its steadfast stance to the soft texture of its silky fur. 

Available in platinum or 18K pink gold, each limited to nine pieces, Métiers d’Art The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac – Year of the Rabbit has a sapphire crystal caseback that shows off the aforementioned Calibre 2460 G4. Endowed with 40 hours of power reserve, the self-winding movement has a 22-carat oscillating weight featuring a Maltese cross decor and bears the Poinçon de Genève – a quality seal that assures all of the movement’s components are finely finished to exacting standards.

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