There were many highlights at SIHH 2018, but one that stood out from the crowd was Vacherin Constantin’s new Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers collection of hand-crafted timepieces, inspired by hot air ballooning. Baroque Access finds out all the details
In the late 18th Century, adventurers took to the skies in hot air balloons to explore. These balloonists’ spirit of adventure has been the inspiration behind the stunning limited edition timepieces revealed by French watchmakers Vacherin Constantin last month. Each of the five magnificent timepieces created have different dials featuring hot air balloons, and each retails for $135,000.
The creators of these beautiful watches at Vacherin Constantin have created just five numbered editions of each of the five designs. In each design, the space on the entire dial of each watch has been used for the hot air balloon. There is no room for hands on the dials to tell the time; instead, in an innovative move, the mechanical movement of the watch indicates the time on apertures on the outer rim of the dial. There are four discs that display the hours, minutes, day and date. The design features transparent sections so that the wearer can see the gear trains and discs of the movement.
Each of the five dials is completely different, representing a different historic hot air balloon that was made between 1783 and 1785 in France. Master engravers have used incredible attention to detail to recreate exact mini replicas of these balloons in sculpted gold. Each balloon is a magical three-dimensional masterpiece. It takes three weeks to create each hot air balloon, which features an ornate basket that includes human figurines and animals, so every one is an original.
Another unique aspect of these exquisite timepieces is a rare form of enamel used by Vacherin Constantin to create the background of each watch. This translucent type of enamel, called plique-à-jour has been used by the brand for the first time. Backgrounds range in color from sky blue to midnight blue, turquoise, a russet color and a deep burgundy.
In addition, each timepiece features an inner bezel ring that is engraved with a design that recalls the ropes of a hot air balloon. All the watches are created out of different types of rose gold. The watchcases are all 40mm in diameter and 12.74mm thick. The mechanical movement comprises 237 parts and 27 jewels; it is visible through a sapphire case back.