In celebration of the launch of its new ladies’ collection, Égérie, Vacheron Constantin pays tribute to the haute couture world in an intimate exhibition of feminine timepieces at its boutique at ION Orchard.
On display now until August 31, the pieces testify to the feminine creativity that the maison has been cultivating for more than two centuries. Women became interested in watchmaking much earlier than men and were actually the first to wear timepieces on their wrists long before wristwatches became popular in the first half of the 20th century. Vacheron Constantin has left its horological mark on all these periods, with its first historical reference dating back to 1815 – a yellow gold pocket watch featuring a caseband finely engraved with a floral motif enhanced with garnets.
The storied maison illustrates 200 years of feminine watchmaking, with a specially curated selection of a few exquisite pieces from its Heritage collections of over 1,300 archival timekeepers. In the manner of a great couturier who designs clothes for special occasions, Vacheron Constantin has selected these timepieces to be associated with an outfit worn at a gala, tea time, lunch or cocktail party, while not forgetting the accessory watch, an indispensable object for people of good taste.
Tea Time: 1834 yellow gold and champlevé enamel pendant watch
Before wearing watches on their wrists, women wore them as a pendant, like this model with its delicate polychrome champlevé enamel work featuring an inspired floral motif on the cover. The caseband is adorned with engraved flowers and leaves, while the silver dial bears a guilloché pattern with a tapestry pattern. This delicate timepiece bears witness to the feminine tastes of the period for extremely ornate jewellery watches.
Accessory: 1928 engraved yellow gold ‘surprise’ pocket watch
The Roaring Twenties invoked a desire to explore new horizons. Transatlantic liners were a dream come true, as were exotic destinations. Travel watches enabling people to check the time at any moment in an entirely private manner gained popularity. Women were won over by ‘surprise’ watches that Vacheron Constantin created with them in mind, based on Art Deco inspiration giving free rein to artistic crafts such as gem-setting, guilloché, enamelling as well as engraved geometrical motifs.
Gala: 1929 diamond-set and engraved tonneau-shaped ladies’ wristwatch
Vacheron Constantin fully embraced the aesthetic codes of the Art Deco movement in the 1920s. Watch silhouettes took liberties with cases that were oval or rectangular, square or barrel-shaped, such as this haute joaillerie timepiece with a special-shaped ‘form’.
Luncheon: 1946 engraved yellow gold secret watch, curved-link bracelet
The geometric lines of the Art Deco period gave way to more voluptuous and exuberant shapes to reflect the spirit of freedom of the 1940s. Conceived as jewels that told the time, ‘secret’ watches were particularly popular in this period, and Vacheron Constantin excelled in giving them substance.
Cocktail: 1972 octagonal white gold wristwatch with lapis lazuli dial and woven mesh bracelet
The wild ’70s proved to be a formidable breeding ground for Vacheron Constantin’s creativity, especially with special-shaped watches. It was also a decade of decadence, which explains the dials made of hard stones such as the lapis lazuli adorning this octagonal watch featuring a faceted glass secured by prongs, like a huge diamond.
Vacheron Constantin’s Heritage Ladies Exhibition is on now until Aug 31 at its ION Orchard boutique, #02-07, from 11am to 9pm.
(Main and featured image: A Vacheron Constantin ad from the 1900s, courtesy of Vacheron Constantin)