Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Qilin Limited Edition
The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Qilin Limited Edition is inspired by Chinese mythology, however, rest assured, the peerless hand craftsmanship is very real. A black hand-guilloché dial is adorned with two hand-engraved Qilin, while the bezel, case and lugs are engraved with a cloud motif executed by deft time-served hands. The model is equipped with the hand-wound Calibre 2260, endowed with a tourbillon escapement and finished to a flawless standard. Once again, the Genevan marque fuses Haute Horlogerie with various artistic crafts, creating a breathtaking creation.
Over the last few months, Vacheron Constantin has been prolific, releasing various new models, including a few watches that fuse Haute Horlogerie with an array of different artistic crafts. In the last few days, the Genevan firm has announced the arrival of another new creation, the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Qilin Limited Edition.
In Chinese mythology, the Qilin is a unicorn whose rare appearance coincides with the imminent birth or death of a wise person or respected ruler. The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Qilin Limited Edition features a black hand-guilloché dial, executed on a traditional rose-engine lathe. Two Qilin, hand-engraved using the ramolayé technique, sit either side of the dial at 3 and 9 o’clock. In addition, the bezel, case and lugs are embellished with a hand-engraved cloud motif.
The high quotient of hand-craftsmanship extends to the Calibre 2260, a hand-wound movement. Endowed with a tourbillon escapement, the movement is beautifully appointed with Côtes de Genève motif, polished jewel and screw sinks, perlage and sublime anglage. The pièce de résistance is the bar, located dial-side, positioned atop the tourbillon carriage.
The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Qilin Limited Edition is limited to 18 pieces; I suspect the abundance of hand finishing precludes making more pieces. Once again, the Swiss marque demonstrates why it is considered one of the finest exponents of Haute Horlogerie.
The brand’s press release
The Traditionnelle collection is distinguished by an avant-garde technical repertoire served by eminently classical codes inherited from 18th century Geneva Haute Horlogerie. At the confluence of aesthetic creativity and high mechanical complication, the Traditionnelle Tourbillon reveals a new facet of its personality through the prism of artistic crafts. Stemming from a blend of patience and meticulous workmanship, the expertise of Vacheron Constantin’s engraving craftsmen is powerfully expressed here. The result is a masterful staging of the path of time, under the benevolent gaze of two Qilin, noble fantasy creatures from Asian mythology.
This Traditionnelle Tourbillon timepiece is issued in an 18-piece numbered limited edition, exclusively available in Vacheron Constantin boutiques.
Fine line and pounced ornament engraving carve the face of time
Emerging from the hand-guilloché gold dial and finished with a black galvanic treatment, two gold appliques represent the fabled Qilin figure with extraordinary finesse. These genuine miniature sculptures are created by dint of extremely precise work using the ramolayé pounced ornament technique. The latter consists of pushing back the material by cutting into, scraping or softening it in order to give volume to a two-dimensional drawing. To achieve this, artisans use their own individual methods and self-made tools – small stones, brushes, paper or files – serving as an exact extension of their hand.
This irreversible work is a delicate, skilful blend of softness and strength, revealing an infinite world of details on a gold surface no more than 0.4 mm thick. Rhythmically punctuated by raised and hollowed areas, flat and curved surfaces, matt and polished finishes, the coat and scaly skin of the Qilins is revealed in a strikingly realistic manner, accentuated by a subtle play on light and shade.
The fine line engraving technique adorning the stepped sides of the case (emphasised by a fluted caseback), the slim bezel and the curved lugs, sets the scene for a lucky-charm cloud motif. This pattern contributes to enriching the aesthetic appeal of this elegant watch, embracing the wrist with a black alligator leather strap.
The Qilin, a highly symbolic creature
The Qilin belongs to the pantheon of figures populating Asian mythology, and it only appears during periods of peace and prosperity. In the Chinese tradition, this fantastic creature reigns over furry animals, just as the Phoenix reigns over feathered animals, the Dragon over animals with scales and the Turtle over those with a shell. Often depicted as a duo – Qi meaning the male and Lin, the female – its appearance betokens a happy omen. The mythical creature is a combination of different animals, and every part of it is a symbol of auspices and beauty in the ancient society. For example, a body of the deer stands for power, the skin of fish stands for affluence, a tail of the ox stands for devotion, etc. Qilin’s benevolence and gentleness are among its greatest virtues. So much so that it does not move across any living creature, including plants, for fear of damaging it, generally preferring to travel on water or clouds.
For this reason, the two Qilin engraved on the dial of the Traditionnelle Tourbillon appear on a bed of lucky clouds, a traditional motif adorning ancient Asian artefacts. As a final detail, the two Qilin respectively stand one of their hooves on one traditional Chinese item. The Qi (male) on the globe, a symbol of authority and prosperity; and Lin (female) on an ingot, a harbinger of good fortune.
Calibre 2260, an exceptional tourbillon
To bring this timepiece to life, Vacheron Constantin has chosen its in-house mechanical manual-winding Calibre 2260. Designed to compensate for the adverse effects of the Earth’s gravity on the movement, the tourbillon is considered to be one of the most sophisticated mechanisms in the realm of Haute Horlogerie.
On the dial of this model, it is majestically revealed at 6 o’clock in its openworked mobile carriage shaped like a Maltese cross, topped by an entirely hand-chamfered bar. This ingenious construction conceals two sets of series-coupled barrels measuring a total 2.20 metres in length and endowing the movement with an exceptional two-week power reserve. For the sake of balance and harmony, the latter is indicated along the same axis as the tourbillon, on a 280° sector. The show continues through the case-back enabling one to admire the meticulous finishing of the movement adorned with a “Côtes de Genève” motif.
Vacheron Constantin unveils a masterpiece of technical and aesthetic refinement embodying the perfect blend of Haute Horlogerie and artistic crafts. The hand-engraved guilloché dial and 18K 5N pink gold case of the Traditionnelle Tourbillon timepiece are further enhanced by the talent of the Maison’s engraving artisans. Their sure, deft touch is illustrated by the use of pounced ornament and fine line engraving techniques to depict the Qilin, a fabled animal symbolising wisdom, peace and prosperity. Beating steadily behind the scenes is the in-house mechanical manual-winding tourbillon Calibre 2260 with its exceptional two-week power reserve. A world of details and sophistication converging this highly symbolic watch exclusively available from Vacheron Constantin boutiques in an 18-piece numbered limited edition.