Vacheron Constantin in partnership with the Louvre has developed a series of four timepieces based on the museum’s ancient collections. True symbols of each era, these artistic masterpieces are at the centre of an exceptional watchmaking show staged by skilled craft makers.
Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art collection is a unique opportunity to travel through time and space thanks to the talents of its master artisans. It is an opportunity to discover – or revisit – certain historical chapters or artistic and cultural symbols of our civilisations. From this perspective, the partnership initiated with the Louvre in 2019 offers an exceptional field of inspiration. In close collaboration with the museum’s teams, Vacheron Constantin’s designers and developers, therefore, undertook to create a new series of Métiers d’Art watches directly inspired by emblematic masterpieces of the Louvre.
Expressed across four eras, the main theme originated in the museum’s incredible collection of antiquities: the Persian Empire under Darius the Great; the Egypt of the pharaohs from the time of the Middle Kingdom; the Hellenistic period in Greece; and the birth of the Roman Empire with the advent of Augustus. Each of these great civilisations is thus represented by a major artistic work drawn from some of the Louvre’s masterpieces. The craft project involved a real challenge for craft makers that required reproducing their expressive strength on a less than 40 mm-diameter dial featuring ornamentation inspired by the decorative arts of the corresponding period, embellished with written elements. The choice of techniques, the rare talents required to implement them, as well as the original composition of these timepieces converge to offer a fascinating watchmaking spectacle, commensurate with these great moments in history.
Four Civilisations in the Spotlight
The selection was based on four main themes covering as many great periods and ancient civilisations and four major works representing them. Thanks to the richness and originality of the themes and the exceptional quality of execution, these watches resulting from the collaboration between Vacheron Constantin and the Louvre all feature narrative content magnificently conveying the splendour of fine craftsmanship.
Grand sphinx de Tanis – the Ancient Egyptian Empire (2035-1680 BC)
The Great Sphinx of Tanis, the capital of the kings of the 21st and 22nd dynasties, is 1.83 metres high and 4.80 metres long. It is one of the largest sphinxes preserved outside Egypt. It arrived in the Louvre in 1826, as part of the collection of the British consul Henry Salt. A royal symbol, the sphinx is a hybrid comprising the body of a recumbent lion and a human head wearing the Nemes – the royal headdress par excellence – as well as the beard worn only by sovereigns. All the power of the pharaoh is expressed through this fabulous animal. Long attributed to the Old Kingdom (2700-2195 BC approx.), it is now more generally linked to the Middle Kingdom (approx. 2035-1680 BC), considered by the Egyptians themselves as the golden age of Egypt. It was probably carved for King Amenemhet II, whose cartouche it bears. Other kings appropriated it by affixing their cartouches: Apophis, Merenptah and Chechonq I.
Lion de Darius – the Persian Empire of the Achaemenids (559 – 330 BC)
The Frieze of Lions, a glazed brick decoration, was located in the first courtyard of the palace of Darius the Great in Susa, the capital of the Persian Achaemenid Empire in southwestern Iran. After freeing themselves from the control of the Medes and conquering Lydia, Babylon and Egypt, the Achaemenids formed one of the greatest empires to have ever existed in antiquity. With a territory stretching from present-day Pakistan to the shores of the Black Sea, and from the steppes of central Asia to Egypt and Libya, it united the oldest civilisations in the Middle East. Darius the Great is remembered for his confrontation with the Greek cities who succeeded in stopping his armies on the Plain of Marathon.
Victoire de Samothrace – Hellenistic Greece of the Antigonid dynasty (277 – 168 BC)
This statue of Victory, a winged goddess resting on the prow of a warship, was discovered in 1863 on the island of Samothrace in the northern Aegean Sea. Excavated from a sanctuary dedicated to the Great Gods, who were widely worshipped throughout the Greek world, it depicts an offering linked to a naval victory. Following the death of Alexander in 323 BC, his generals shared his legacy, giving rise to three great empires, including that of the Antigonid dynasty in Macedonia. During this Hellenistic period, which ended with the Roman conquest of Egypt in 31 BC, naval battles followed one another for the domination of the eastern part of the Mediterranean. One of them was majestically commemorated in the sanctuary of this small Greek island.
Buste d’ Auguste – The Roman Empire of the Julio-Claudians (27 BC – 68 AD)
This bust of Octavian Augustus, the adopted son of Caesar, represents him crowned with an oak wreath, a distinction awarded him by a Senate decision in 27 BC, when he became the principate or first citizen of Rome. In actual fact, following his conquest of Egypt, where he defeated Mark Antony, an ally of Cleopatra, he ended a long period of civil wars marking the end of the Republic and becomes master of Rome. He is now considered the first Roman emperor and lays the foundations of a political organization that would last another four centuries. The Julio-Claudian dynasty, of which he was the first “prince”, ended with the suicide of Nero in 68 AD.
A Calibre Dedicated to Artistry
To power, these Métiers d’Art Tribute to great civilisations watches, Vacheron Constantin has chosen its self-winding Manufacture Calibre 2460 G4/2, which features four discs indicating the hours, minutes, days and dates. The apertures for reading the time and calendar indications are symmetrically positioned around the dial periphery, thus leaving a vast field of expression for the artisans. No hands disturb the view of these miniature masterpieces. On the back of the movement, beating at a rate of 4 Hz (28,800 vibrations per hour) and comprising 237 components, the oscillating weight has also received special attention. It features a depiction – based on an 18th-century lithograph – of the east facade of the Louvre and its magnificent colonnade inspired by the work of Louis Le Vau and Claude Perrault, based on an 18th-century etching. The matrix of the design was hand-sculpted and then used to stamp the twenty oscillating weights composing the series.
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Brand: Vacheron Constantin
Model: Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilisations
Reference: 7620A/000R-B927 (Grand sphinx de Tanis), 7620A/000R-B926 (Lion de Darius), 7620A/000G-B929 (Buste d’Auguste), 7620A/000G-B928 (Victoire de Samothrace)
Dial: Champlevé enamel frieze (7620A/000R-B927), engraved metal & champlevé enamel frieze (7620A/000R-B926), hand-engraved gold frieze (7620A/000G-B929, 7620A/000G-B928)
Case Material: 18K 5N pink gold (7620A/000R-B927, 7620A/000R-B926), 18K white gold (7620A/000G-B929, 7620A/000G-B928)
Case Dimensions: 42 mm Diameter, 12.9 mm thick
Crystal: Sapphire Glass
Case Back: Sapphire Glass
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Alligator leather strap with a buckle matching the case material
Calibre: 2460 G4/2
Functions: Hours, minutes, day, date
Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 Vph)
Power Reserve: 40 Hours
Price: Under request
Limited Edition: Yes, 5 pieces each