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Vacheron Constantin takes us on a journey across the world with its Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages

The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages Memorable Places special edition.

From the Far East to the Americas, the watchmaker explores how its past geographical expansion reflects its appreciation of the arts globally.

Each year, Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers line aims to surprise the watch-loving community at least twice. The first is at Watches & Wonders Geneva. The second is often a release toward the end of the year. This year, it is introducing a third surprise, the Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages, after its earlier partnership with Rolls-Royce.

These bespoke timepieces are now available for all under the Les Cabinotiers programme.
These bespoke timepieces are now available for all under the Les Cabinotiers programme.

In the past, Vacheron Constantin often created bespoke timepieces for its most privileged clients. Today, the brand initiates these one-off creations instead. Récits de Voyages, which translates to Travel Stories in English, explores the brand’s global reach from the early 19th century. With unique models dedicated to each region of influence, the watchmaker has drawn from a particular style in each part of the world and realised that through its own precious handcrafts. We explore some of the most important pieces in this release. 

The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages Tribute to Arabesque.
The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Tribute to Arabesque.

The Middle East 

It may come as a surprise, but Vacheron Constantin was present in the Middle East since 1817, through Turkey and Egypt. This would further culminate in famed timepieces produced by the watchmaker for King Fouad I of Egypt as well as his son, King Farouk. To commemorate this important cultural and client community, the Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Tribute to Arabesque celebrates the architectural styles of the Muslim world, in particular, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. Arabesque and floral patterns on the various case parts are produced using an intaglio line engraving technique achieved with a burin, while the flange has a more geometrical pattern. 

The design of the arabesque-motif engraved white gold plate on the dial.
The design of the arabesque motif engraved on a white gold plate on the dial.

The dial features lattice-work mashrabiya-inspired engravings on a black dial that’s finely worked for a matte and grained texture. On the case, the engraving work takes months, with accuracies to tenth-of-a-millimetre incisions, while the dial takes a month of work. The clean lines of the Malte cross tourbillon cage are striking against the curved lines and floral designs of the dial and case. The arabesque design extends to the buckle of the watch. Powering it is the Calibre 2755 TMR with a gentle 2.5Hz escapement, 58-hour power reserve, and a minute repeater function, which can be activated via the slider on the left of the case. 

The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages Tribute to Art Deco.
The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Tribute to Art Deco Style.

The Americas  

A second Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon model pays tribute to the Art Deco movement that shaped New York’s most iconic skyscrapers in the early 20th century. Many of the families that developed New York were Vacheron Constantin collectors. This watch celebrates the geometric forms and motifs that have come to define the Art Deco movement by combining two handcrafts for the first time on a Vacheron Constantin watch of champlevé and wood marquetry. 

The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages Tribute to Art Deco.
The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Tribute to Art Deco Style.

The multi-layered dial is designed in such a way as to create depth and emphasise the radiating motifs that can be seen in Art Deco interiors of the era. Using pearwood and tulipwood to create the dial’s blue and black shades, an artisan first stain and sand the material down, slicing them into tiny slivers totalling 110 pieces that are pieced together into the dial’s design. It sits within a minute track ring with 12 diamond indexes that get smaller at the top of the dial. Each of these elements appears to radiate from the centre of the tourbillon. The case is also further engraved with a herringbone pattern. Like the Arabesque model, this is sized at 44mm and is 13.5mm thick. 

The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages Memorable Places series.
The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages Memorable Places series.

The Far East 

Among the releases are a series of four watches with hand-engraved dials that depict famous architectural spots in the Far East and Geneva, signifying the connection between Vacheron Constantin’s Genevan roots and its clients’ in the East. From the mid-19th century onwards, it became the brand for jewellery watchmaking in the region. The Memorable Places series features period engravings of key locations for the brand – Angkor Thom in Cambodia, the Old Summer Palace and the Confucius Temple in Beijing, and the Tour de I’Ile in Geneva. 

A closeup of the damascene-style technique used to superimpose one element of the gold engraved plates to the next.
A closeup of the damascene-style technique used to superimpose one element of the gold engraved plates to the next.

Using plates cut from white, yellow, and pink gold, which are then juxtaposed to create the different parts of each dial, the display of the watch features micro-engraving and micro-sculpturing techniques by master artisans. Each plate is between 0.4mm and 0.8mm thick, and it takes hundreds of hours to create each dial. They also use damascening, a method by which two precious metal plates are superimposed via a metal wire, to create the effect of overlapping foliage. 

The watches are powered by Vacheron Constantin’s Calibre 1120, an ultra-thin movement that’s just 2.45mm thick. The self-winding movement has a reserve of 40 hours, and a full-sized Maltese cross-designed oscillating weight winds the watch

The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages Tribute to Hausmannian Style.
The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon Tribute to Haussmannian Style.

Paris, France 

In the late 19th century, Paris underwent a massive urban development led by Georges Eugéne Haussmann. Haussmann’s style of architecture is a key element of this watch’s design ethos, which is replicated on Vacheron Constantin’s voluminous Malte tonneau case. Engraved by a single master engraver, it features motifs used by Haussmann in Paris, such as the lion that appears on the case middle as a bas-relief-style frieze. There’s also the champlevé engraved design, made using a burin across the entire bezel inspired by the Eiffel Tower and Haussmann-style façades.

The Calibre 2790SQ has been completed decorated, finished, and skeletonised to expose as much of the movement as possible.
The Calibre 2790SQ has been completely decorated, finished, and skeletonised to expose as much of the inner workings as possible.

More notably, the Calibre 2790SQ has been completely skeletonised, decorated, and finished. The ultra-thin movement is just 6.1mm thick, with a tourbillon regulator and construction that’s highly architectural in style. The 246-component movement is shaped to the tonneau case, creating a seamless flow from the finely decorated movement to the case and caseback.

These are just a few of the Récits de Voyages single-edition watches from Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers atelier. For more information, visit its boutiques today.

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.


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