This year, Vacheron Constantin will be launching a dozen unique and special clocks that are meant to celebrate the brand’s great jubilee of 260 years on the market. These one-of-the-kind timekeepers in the set are actually parts of the larger Metiers d’Art series. The novel clock is named Arca and it is includes Art Deco inspired decorations. It features a transparent housing made of seven chunks of rock crystal which allow the view on its impressive proprietary skeletonized mechanical caliber with seven hand-beveled bridges, a constant force mechanism, as well as with an extensive power reserve that keeps it running for an entire month.
The fist impressive clock in what will be a 12-piece series of unique pieces is, as it has been mentioned, actually a part of a larger Metiers d’Art collection. This lineage which is named after the French term for artistic crafts, displays the brand’s exceptional know-how and ability to embellish its products with the use of traditional decorative techniques. The specific novelty, Arca clock, unifies the work of a master watchmaker, master engraver, master glazier, master enamellist, master gilder and stone-cutter. It is undoubtedly an exquisite horological achievement, but at the same time a true work of art as well.
Vacheron Constantin Metiers d’Art Arca piece has its housing made of clear quartz. The entire process of its production starts with a single solid chunk of rock crystal which weighs more than 120 pounds. The material is then placed inside a thermally insulated chamber and exposed to temperatures up to 1500 degrees centigrade after which is it is shaped into the desired form. The next step is cooling which is followed by cutting in five pieces that are then meticulously polished. When the material is finally shaped and finished in the appropriate manner, it is mounted on a base made from silver. After this stage, the clock’s housing is finally completed. The mentioned silver parts on which the clear quartz housing sits are also exceptionally embellished by an elaborate guilloched engraving that is inspired by the Art Deco movement. This lower part of the construction is further enriched with translucent Grand Feu enameling technique.
The lovely transparent case construction made from treated minerals and silver is used as a base for the clock’s caliber 9260 which is a true artifact on its own. It is almost entirely skeletonized and it is consisted of seven hand-beveled bridges. The caliber is naturally mechanical and it is manually wound by the means of a special key. It is made with a constant force mechanism that allows chronometric results through its extensive 30- day’s long power reserve which relies on a set of two barrels. The use of a constant force device is especially important, because of the potential isochronism flaws that can occur in different states of the power reserve. This potential problem is even more pronounced when the timepiece has a power reserve that lasts so long.
Caliber 9260 is 106 mm long, 131.1 mm wide and 58.7 mm thick. It features a balance wheel on the very top of the construction which oscillates at a relatively slow rate of 2.5 Hz (18,000 vph). Its entire construction integrates 41 jewels and includes 106 components in total.
The proprietary caliber supports indications for hours, minutes and its month-long power storage. The current time is shown on a dial with guilloched chapter ring which includes lacquered silver hands that revolve and point to appropriate Roman numerals that are also made from silver and (just like the elements on the base of the clock) embellished with Grand Feu enamel decorative technique. This was especially tricky to create, since the used black enamel powder and silver have fairly similar melting points (with the difference being just 40 degrees centigrade). The display that shows the remaining state of the power reserve lies at the bottom of the dial.
Vacheron Constantin Metiers d’Art Arca unique clock bears the reference number 99900/001-B034. The dimensions of the entire structure are: the width of 202 mm, the length of 219 mm and the thickness of 105 mm. As the proof of the product’s unique status, one can notice an inscription “piece unique” which is placed on the base of the clock.
As the Genevese watch manufacturer stated, there will be 11 more watches in the same series which will all be supplied with the same type of caliber. However, each of them will be unique when it comes to the construction of the case. Apart from the first one that saw the light of day, three more will be packaged in a housing made of rock crystal. The remaining eight pieces will have its bodies made of different kinds of minerals. Moreover, in addition to the premier piece which is decorated with Art Deco motifs, other pieces will feature characteristic embellishments that evoke Orientalism, Post-Modernism, Art Nouveau, Utopiansm, Green Architecture and Op Art movements.
The entire set of dozen unique pieces is devoted to the brand’s celebration of 260th anniversary which made Vacheron Constantin the watchmaker with the longest lasting continuous production. As for the specific type of the clock, the manufacturer drew the inspiration from its historic piece which was originally unveiled in 1933.