Artists from one of the oldest Japanese lacquer workshops, Zôhiko and the manufacturer with the longest watchmaking tradition united their exceptional skills to create the third and the last set of unique timepieces from the “Métiers d’Art La Symbolique des Laques” series. Just like it has been doing for the last two years, Vacheron Constantin launched the new set of three watches in the 20-piece limited edition.
The third set in the “Métiers d’Art La Symbolique des Laques” series is inspired with the natural beauty of seasons, called “Setsugekka”. By celebrating the power of graceful nature, “Hanami Tsukimi Yukimi” set shows symbols from the core of Japanese rituals and tradition (snowflakes, cherry flowers and the full moon) which represent the changes of seasons – spring, fall and winter. The best artists from the Zôhiko lacquer house spent seven months to create two dials for each model, which clearly shows the important place of heritage in modern Japan.
While remarkable experts in the art of “maki-e” demonstrated its artistry by creating these beautiful dials, Vacheron Constantin proved its expertise through the inner-work. Each of three timepieces is powered by an ultra-slim Caliber 1003 whose open-worked silhouette also contributes to the wonderful look of the interface. Besides, it is also revealed through the central aperture at the case-back that is as well framed with the “maki-e” dial. In order to match the dial, this revolutionary 18 karat gold mechanism is treated with ruthenium. Furthermore, its amazing finishes, including chamfering, straight- graining and engraving are all done by hand.
The World’s Slimmest Hand-Winding Movement
Being just 1.64 mm thick, the Caliber 1003 is the world’s slimmest hand-winding mechanism. It is completely designed, developed and produced in the Vacheron Constantin’s workshops and it is stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva, as the ultimate prove of excellence. The mechanism works on the frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour and provides 30 hours of power-reserve.
Either made of 18 karat white gold or 18 karat 4N pink gold, beautifully polished cases are 40 mm in diameter and just 7.50 mm thick. Their elegant appearances are emphasized with black Mississippiensis alligator leather straps, with large square scales and pin buckles in 18 karat gold.
As I have mentioned before, each Métiers d’Art La Symbolique des Laques watch comes with two dials which are true masterpieces that show the beauty of the “maki-e” art. This special technique, known as the most sophisticated in the art of lacquer, uses gold dust, delicately sprinkled on still moist lacquer (usually black), in order to create the motif. Another thing that makes this technique so exclusive is the origin of lacquer that comes from the bark of the Rhus Verniciflua tree that today grows only in Japan, southern China and Vietnam.
Hanami, Tsukimi and Yukimi
“Hanami” watch (Ref. 33222/000R-9701) presents the flowering of the cherry trees in the spring, which is the strong symbol of renewal, purity, integrity and longevity. The remarkable sight of cherry blossoms that from March to the beginning of May literally paint the country in pink, had the strong impact on the neat relationship that Japanese people developed with the nature. That is why the practice of “Hanami” (the admiration of flowers) is deeply woven into the Japanese culture.
The dial of the “Hanami” timepiece has the grace of the cherry blossoms, while the back side is mottled with the delicate motif of willow leaves, a river and the traditional Japanese bridge.
The “Tsukimi” watch (Ref. 33222/000R-9704) which represents the evening of contemplation of the full moon (“Tsukimi”) celebrates the first full moon of fall. The practice that Japanese adapted from Chinese during the Heian era (794–1185), became a widespread costume during the Edo era (1603–1868) when peasants practiced it in their rituals to mark the end of the harvest. Besides, the full moon, partially overshadowed by several clouds, represents the greatest refinement and elegance in the Japanese culture.
This is the main motif on the dial of “Tsukimi” timepiece. Golden dust forms a beautiful picture of clouds and the full moon on the black lacquer surface. The back-side of the watch displays Japanese maples in a bright red shades, so characteristic for fall, as well as a “torii” portal, commonly built at the entrance to Shintoist sanctuaries.
“Yukimi” watch (Ref. 33222/000G-9706) symbolizes the traditional winter ritual that involves groups enjoying in snowflakes, frozen air and the serenity of magical winter moments. This is why “Maki-e” artists adorned the dial of “Yukimi” watch with the wonderful silhouettes of snow crystals.
The picture at the case-back tells another story. In order to protect trees under heavy snow from bending, the Japanese protect them with conical structures made of rope and bamboo, called “Yukizuri”. The elegant lines of the Yukizuri are nicely shown by the golden powder on the second dial.