Les Cabinotiers is perhaps the most intriguing and specialized department by Vacheron Costantin, to which are due some of the maison’s most important creations. In early December, Les Cabinotiers unveiled a new selection of unique pieces, truly magnificent and worthy of being thorough.
Before seeing the collection, we wanted you to understand the origin of the name.
Going back in time to the 18th century, Geneva was already a key hub for Swiss watchmaking.
However, in the course of their work, the master watchmakers suffered from a practical problem and, at the time, difficult to solve: light.
Today it may seem obvious, but until the end of the 1800s there was no electric light bulbs.
In fact, the only light source, enough strong to allow to handle screws and microscopic gears was sunlight.
To solve this dilemma, artisans chose as atelier the attics of the Genevan palaces, called cabinets.
They were equipped with large windows, which allowed a maximum supply of light, throughout the day.
Over time, these craftsmen who worked in the attic became known as cabinotiers.
Under the name of cabinotiers were grouped many of the most skilled masters of the time, to whom the powerful and rich men throughout Europe commissioned unique pieces of high watchmaking.
Thanks to their tireless work, some of the most extreme complications have arisen, as well as the timepieces that have made Switzerland, and Geneva, the world’s watchmaking capital.
Today Les Cabinotiers is the name of the most exclusive production sector of Vacheron Costantin.
Les Cabinotiers was created to allow the brand’s top customers to create watches conceived and made according to their dictates.
In this regard, a team of expert master watchmakers, with unlimited artistic and technical skills, work side by side to create aesthetically and functionally unparalleled timepieces.
After accepting the customer’s request, a company internal ethics committee evaluates the project idea and determines whether it fits the Maison’s strict standards.
Subsequently, if the outcome is successful, Vacheron’s team of experts will take care to masterfully create the timepiece requested by the client.
The time for an only-piece manufacturing varies from eight months to a few years, depending on the difficulty of the project.
In addition to the creation of custom watches, Les Cabinotiers is also dedicated to the creation of special watch lines, designed for an extremely limited audience of collectors.
On December 1, 2019, Vacheron Constantin unveiled to the public the new Les Cabinotiers Collection, which we will now discover together.
The thing that strikes at first glance is the massive Caravelle, one of the ships which brought Christopher Columbus to America, depicted on the dial. This watch takes inspiration from the reference 4308 created by Vacheron in the 1950s. (In the picture on the left)
The Caravelle depicted on the dial was meticulously crafted by Anita Porchet, one of the leading experts in the field, using the technique of cloisonnè enamel.
At 10 o’clock we find another interesting detail: a gold leaf application depicts the Polar Star, a fundamental element for navigation when there were no other references outside the stars.
The watch is animated by the cal.4400, a manual winding movement, only 2,8mm thick, housed in a 18kt rose gold case of 39mm diameter.
This timepiece is a true work of art.
The technical finesse of the skeletonizing, united to the tourbillon complication is completed by all the fine gemstones.
The manual-wound caliber featured is in fact the cal.2260, technical gem by Vacheron Costantin.
It has a 14-day power reserve thanks to four paired springs that can be monitored via an indicator at 12 o’clock.
At 6 o’clock, the classic tourbillon with the Maltese Cross almost seems to float.
Topping it all out are 330 baguette-cut diamonds and 12 sapphires that act as indexes.
In this watch the automatic caliber cal.2460RQP “keeps alive” two of the oldest complications: the regulator and the perpetual calendar.
Since eyes want to be pleased too, the hand-decorated plum-colored dial with guillochè pattern has a diameter of 42mm to be perfectly readable.
The bezel is adorned with 62 brilliant cut diamonds for a total of 1.4 carats that bring light and make it a timepiece that definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.
This specific model is the result of great study and technique, refined during the creation of the legendary Vacheron Costantin ref.57260, the most complicated watch in the world.
In this version we find the manual caliber cal.1990 that implements two complications patented by Vacheron: the armillary tourbillon and the double instant indication of retrograde time.
The generous 45mm grade 5 titanium case makes it easy for the wearer to enjoy the show.
The dial, which also features the important recognition of the Geneva Seal, is literally split in half.
On the left side we find the armillary tourbillon, a particular type of tourbillon that moves on two different axes every 60 seconds.
On the right side, on the other hand, we find the retrograde semi-circular indication of hours and minutes: when the hour hand will reach 12 and that of the minutes 60, they quickly return to zero to “reset”.
With this series of four watches, Vacheron Costantin wants to pay homage to its first ultra-flat watch with minute repeater, made in 1941.
Each version presents a different season on the dial, realized through a technique of bas-relief and enameling called champlevé.
The manual caliber that moves these four pieces of art is the cal.2755TMR with one-minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock and repeater for hours, quarters and minutes.
Another noteworthy feature, featured in the entire line “La Musique du Temps”, is that the sound of the minute repeater of each watch has been recorded and certified by the “Abbey Road Studios”, the famous British recording studios with which Vacheron Constantin had a close bond for a long time.
All models have a 44mm diameter case with hours and minutes indication and small seconds at 6.
Each model is realized in a different material: yellow gold, rose gold, white gold and platinum.
This model is an unbeatable mix of classic elegance and tecnical ability.
The manual caliber cal.1731 is 3,90mm thick, really few for a movement with minute repeater, and it is visible thanks to a transparent caseback.
The 18kt case has a 41mm diameter and makes more visible the beautiful Grand Feu enamel dial, with a egg-shell color and Arabic numerals.
The front of this watch features a blue dial with guilloché soleil decoration, an hour and minute indicator and small seconds at 6 o’clock, around the tourbillon window with the classic Maltese Cross.
If just the tourbillon sky chart could set this watch in the Horological Holympus, with this unique piece Les Cabinotiers, Vacheron Constantin wend much forward.
In the back in fact we can find a second dial, showing sideral time, months and constellations’ chart. The rose gold case, with 44mm diameter, houses an astonishing manual cal.2755TMRCC which, to really leave a mark in our enthusiasts’ heart, has also a minute repeater.
Vacheron Costantin presents two models that differ only in the material of the case, 18 kt white and pink gold and, in addition to the perpetual calendar module, features the minute repeater complication.
It’s equipped with the caliber 1731QP (fun fact: 1731 is Jean-Marc Costantin’s birth year), manual-wound and 65 hours of power reserve, all in an incredible thickness of 5,60 mm.
The dial, very elegant, features three sub-dials for day, month and date, slightly moved to the upper part of the dial to leave some space to the important moon phase window that stands out thanks to the blue sky and gold moon.
Did you like these novelties?
What do you think about the choice to keep Les Cabinotiers separate from all the other Vacheron Constantin’s departments?
Let us know in the comments or on Instagram!