The watch maketh the man, not his clothes. At least, that’s our line of thinking at HODINKEE. But sartorial choices have come under scrutiny this week. After entertaining the idea that watches could in fact be worn with a tuxedo (shocker, right?), we take a look at a new collection of tailor-inspired and tailor-made watches from Vacheron Constantin.
Capitalizing on the resurgence of style, as defined by men who shop exclusively on Saville Row and have Pitti Uomo saved in their calendar for the next ten years, Vacheron Constantin have teamed up with the world’s oldest fabric manufacturer, Vitale Barberis Canonico, for a sartorial debut of sorts.
Unveiled this morning in Paris, on the opening day of the Journées Européenes des Métiers d’Arts (JEMA), the “Elegance Sartorial” collection faithfully re-creates famous woven patterns such as the Prince of Wales check, using the maison’s own guilloché and enameling expertise.
The connection between the two crafts, beyond their physical meeting on the wrist, is not obvious at first glance. The “Elegance Sartorial” collection is at once classically elegant, and microscopically complex. The watches are built according to typical dress standards, with round cases measuring 40 mm, and thin (2.65 mm) manually wound movements.
But present in their dials are five patterns borrowed from the sartorial word. The Prince of Wales check pattern, the Herringbone pattern, the Windowpane pattern, the Pinstripes pattern and the Tartan pattern have all been precisely recreated – following six hours of labor – by VC’s expert guillocheurs and enamelists.
Each pattern is enhanced by a coat of translucent grand feu enamel, and complemented by floral or geometrical motifs – inspired by pocket squares – that are etched into the hour and minute subdials. The Roman numerals are then hand painted onto circular rims of mother of pearl, meant to recall the buttons on a plain white shirt.
The biggest challenge, according to the brand’s creative director was finding the perfect shade for each watch. Despite the maison’s vast experience in the art of guillochage and enameling, Christian Selmoni says the novelty of the patterns created unexpected enamel hues. After thirty abandoned tests, Vacheron Constantin selected five finalists.
The most surprising model in the collection may be the Prince of Wales check. Its raspberry red enamel is striking but it also perfectly reflects the atypical chic of men’s style today. The other watches are more temperate in their appearance.
Powering the new collection is the manufacture made Caliber 1400, a manual-winding movement that beats at 28,000 VpH (4Hz) for a minimum of 40 hours. It is partially visible on the flip side, through a circular aperture shaped after the hour and minutes subdial.
The new collection comes on an alligator strap with a pin buckle in the shape of a Maltese cross, and a pair of cufflinks echoing the tapestry motif on the subdial. The five models will be reserved for Vacheron Constantin’s boutique network, and will be priced at $53,600.
1400U/000G-B215 – prince of wales check pattern
1400U/000R-B159 –herringbone pattern
1400U/000R-B216 – windowpane pattern
1400U/000R-B217 – pin stripes pattern
1400U/000G-B218 – tartan pattern
For more on Vacheron Constantin, please visit their official website here.
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