Haute Watch of the Week: Vacheron Constantin Les Univers Infinis

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This trilogy of enameled watches is the second installment of the Les Univers Infinis series, part of the Metiers d’Art collection. Les Univers Infinis is a tribute to Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, an early 20th century artist who was fascinated with the technique known as tessellation: repeated graphic patterns. Escher was a gifted graphic artist, known for his mathematically inspired woodcuts and lithographs. His fascination with tessellation is represented on the dials of the Univers Infinis trio of watches, which are filled with perfectly interlocking repetitive motifs, thereby creating a world of optical illusion and perspective. They are created using a blend of artistic crafts, including engraving, enameling, gemsetting, guilloché and marquetry.

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There are three different dial patterns. The Angel watch contrasts angels and demons through light and darkness, using the champlevé enamel technique. The dial is enameled and then later guilloched. It is extremely rare for guilloché work to be done on an enameled model because of the extreme complexity involved. Any slip of the tool could jeopardize the work of an entire team of artisans.

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The second dial pattern depicts Ottoman horsemen, rendered in gold and mother-of-pearl marquetry. The Ottoman Empire was famous for its cavalry force of armored soldiers and horses. Each horseman is first cut out from think plates of gold and mother-of-pearl before being meticulously assembled on the gold base of the dial. There can be no visible gaps between the figures.

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The third dial is inspired by Escher’s Reptile lithographs, and depicts an army of red and brown lizards, created using engraving, grand feu enameling and guilloché techniques. The coats of some of the lizards are set with diamonds; others are guilloched to highlight their tiny scales, measuring just a few tenths of a millimeter.

Each of the three models will be produced in a limited edition of 20 pieces. All are Hallmark of Geneva certified, and contain the caliber 2460, a mechanical self-winding movement, developed and crafted entirely by Vacheron Constantin. The components bear the decorative finishes of a haute horology movement: Côtes de Genève bridges, a crossweave guilloché pattern on the rotor, and a circular grained mainplate.

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