Vacheron Constantin has launched its third and final Metiers d’Art collection of exceptional timepieces, called La Symbolique des Laques.
The new collection of three timepieces takes inspiration from the ancient Japanese lacquer house Zohiko, located in Kyoto, which has produced timepieces continually since 1755.
Vacheron now says it has created a “cultural bridge between East and West”, by acknowledging the artistic technique of maki-e, literally “sprinkled picture”, where gold or silver dust is delicately sprinkled on moist, typically black lacquer, to create a motif.
The maki-e technique appeared very early on in Japanese history, reaching its artistic heights between the 8th and 12th centuries, becoming the main decoration form from the 17th century onwards.
The La Symbolique des Laques collection pays tribute to nature and the changing seasons, known as setsugekka in Japanese.
It took seven months to create the two dials produced for each model. The emblems – snowflakes, cherry flowers and a full moon – cover the openwork ultra-flat 1003 calibre in an 18ct gold case.
The timepieces all bear the Hallmark of Geneva, while the calibre measure just 1.64mm thick, making it the world’s thinnest hand-wound movement, entirely designed, developed and manufactured in the Vacheron Constantin workshops.
The Hanami watch is based on the cherry blossoms of springtime in Japan and the face of the dial is decorated with “burgeoning flowers”, while its back is decorated with willow leaves.
As a reference to the autumn moon, the Tsukimi watch honours the first full moon of Autumn, a custom with Chinese origins was introduced in Japan during the Heian era, when nobles of the Imperial Court got together in the moonlight to compose poems and listen to music.
On the dial of the Tsukimi watch clouds are suspended against the black lacquer create a trompe-l’œil effect in subtle while red Japanese maples cover the back of the watch.
Finally the Yukimi watch plays on winter snowfall and the protective structures – called Yukizuri – that the Japanese used to stop trees from bending and breaking under the weight of snow.
The conical structures, made of rope and bamboo, decorate the back of the timepiece while snowflakes decorate the edge of the dial on the front.
The Metiers d’Art La Symbolique des Laques series has been extended over three years, each year producing a new set of three watches issued in 20-piece limited editions.