Inspired by The Temple of Flora, a 1799 British book of lush botanical illustrations, the China Limodoron timepiece from Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin couples pinprick-precise watch mechanics with ancient jewelry craft. One of three limited-edition floral-themed watches in the Métiers d’Art Florilège collection, the piece “was built on the concept of revisiting a classic, almost predictable subject when speaking about feminine watches: flowers,” says Christian Selmoni, creative director of Vacheron Constantin. So they took a different angle: combining sublime guillochage, enameling, and diamond-setting in a single piece. “It is possible to create contemporary designs using very traditional crafts present in the company since 1755,” he says.
Etch a Sketch
The ancient craft of guillochage creates geometric patterns on surfaces with a hand-driven machine. Guillochage often is combined with enameling, but the China Limodoron marks “probably the first time that the two crafts have created an almost 3-D effect by combining guillochage and the use of three different enamels—translucent, semi-opaque, and opalescent,” Selmoni says.
Embedded beneath the orchid facade is the manual-winding Calibre 4400 movement, which was developed in-house at Vacheron Constantin and bears the famous Geneva Quality Hallmark. One hundred and twenty-seven components, including 21 rubies, compose this mini masterpiece.
This floral fantasy features 85 round-cut diamonds, an 18k white gold case with a diamond-set bezel, and a transparent caseback made from sapphire crystal. Its 18k white gold dial features hand-executed guilloche accents and cloisonné enameling and 18k white gold leaf-shape hands. The equally glitzy clasp is a diamond-set 18k white gold ardillon buckle. Holding it all together: a glossy cherry-red alligator-skin strap.
The company crafted only 20 of each of the Métiers d’Art Florilège timepieces, a collection that took roughly two years to create. Most of the work took place at Vacheron’s headquarters in Geneva. But the delicate enameling was done by independent artist Anita Porchet at her house in Corcelles-le-Jorat, a quaint little Swiss town with a population of around 400.