Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon – Tribute to Haussmannian style
Les Cabinotiers – Récits de Voyages A watchmaking odyssey honouring arts and cultures of the world
Embargo lifted on 27 November 2023 - 9:00 AM CET
- Les Cabinotiers – Récits de Voyages sets off to discover the world and its wonders in the spirit of openness that has characterised Vacheron Constantin since its origins: among the various destinations, the European leg takes us to Paris, where the Maison has been active since the 1820s.
- The single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon – Tribute to Haussmannian style, a masterpiece of engraving, echoes the major urban planning projects carried out in the City of Light by Baron Haussmann in the mid-19th century.
- Emblematic of the technical mastery of the Maison, the ultra-thin openworked and entirely engraved in-house Calibre 2790 SQ with tourbillon, date and power reserve is distinguished by its extreme thinness.
The single-piece editions in the new Les Cabinotiers – Récits de Voyages collection reflect Vacheron Constantin's geographical expansion. Crossing Europe, the journey passes through Paris, a capital where Vacheron Constantin has had its own agent since the early 19th century and whose current urban planning stems from the major works conducted by Georges Eugène Haussmann under the Second Empire. Witness Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon – Tribute to Haussmannian style watch, distinguished by its in-house manual-winding Calibre 2790 SQ, an ultra-thin skeleton movement featuring a tourbillon regulator with date and power reserve.
Vacheron Constantin and Europe
Europe proved bountiful territory for Vacheron Constantin. Jean-Marc Vacheron, whose workshop founded the Manufacture in 1755, was himself the son of a weaver who had emigrated to Geneva. France and Italy soon came to represent major commercial outlets for the founder's descendants, with ports such as Genoa and Livorno offering close contacts with merchant navies. From the beginning of the 19th century following the partnership concluded between Jacques-Barthélémi Vacheron and François Constantin in 1819, the Maison gradually extended its reach to the main countries of Europe, to the point where, by 1850, its watches were already being sold throughout the continent.
François Constantin was the architect of this expansion. His travels inevitably took him to Paris, where he began sourcing jewellery in the early 1820s, convinced that watches and jewellery would have to complement each other in order to appeal to European customers. At the same time, his supplier, the jeweller Watin, became Vacheron Constantin's agent in the French capital. A few decades later, in 1880, an encounter with Ferdinand Verger in Paris sealed an exceptionally enduring partnership that was to be one of the Maison’s most fruitful. The City of Light had just undergone colossal urban development spearheaded by Georges Eugène Haussmann. Vacheron Constantin's Récits de Voyages echoes this masterful architectural undertaking with the single-piece Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon – Tribute to Haussmannian style edition.
A Haussmann-style case, top-notch engraving work
To ensure the watchmaking tribute is worthy of the model, a highly architectural, even three-dimensional piece was the obvious choice. The entire movement and case passed through the expert hands of the master engraver, whose task was to sculpt the latter using Haussmann-type façades as inspiration, as well as to adorn each movement component with a motif recalling the metal structures of the Eiffel Tower. This meticulous task required 150 hours of work on a watch whose tonneau shape already evokes Parisian chic through the harmonious curves of its case middle. First introduced in 1912, this ‘barrel’ shape is part of Vacheron Constantin's heritage and typical of the Malte collection that was redesigned a century later. At the time, Vacheron Constantin had already distinguished itself through this creative freedom in a watchmaking world that rarely ventured away from the classic conventions of the round watch. Today, it reaffirms this aesthetic moment through a new timepiece brimming with character.
The master artisan has left no surface blank on the 18K 5N pink gold case. The bezel and caseback are circular-grained and engraved with gadroons that are round on the front and hollowed on the back. While the lugs feature concave gadroons, the case middle provides an exceptional showcase for artistry, while recalling that this watch with its ultra-thin calibre is only 12.7 mm thick. It features a motif recalling the work of Baron Haussmann: while standardising the face of Paris, the latter encouraged the use of ornamentation, resulting in lions ‘taking over’ the capital, its monuments, its building facades and door-knockers as well as its parks. The case middle of the watch adopts the feline in the form of a bas-relief sculpture surrounded by a frieze. After tracing the decor with a dedicated scriber, the engraver sets about creating a champlevé (raised field) by removing the material around the motifs, of which the volumes are created using a burin. The result is a meticulously accurate depth effect – corresponding to 4/10ths of a millimetre for the lion and 2/10ths for its frieze – that still requires polishing. This extremely delicate operation is designed to strike the right balance between the gleam of the metal and the relief of the volumes, whose shadows are accentuated by small incisions or line engraving. The work is completed by fine chasing on the base, hand-crafted point by point to accentuate the contrasts and bring out the shimmering decoration.
A fully openworked and engraved ultra-thin movement, Calibre 2790 SQ
The mechanism has also been meticulously finished and embellished, a task rendered all the more complex by the fact that it is an ultra-thin movement. At just 6.1 mm thick, given its tonneau shape and, above all, its tourbillon regulator, manual-winding Calibre 2790 SQ represents a veritable technical feat. Unveiled by Vacheron Constantin in 2014, this 246-component movement powering displays of the hours and minutes, small seconds on the tourbillon, date and power reserve, is entirely skeletonised to create a highly architectural three-dimensional decoration. The movement has also been designed to offer a striking view of the regulating organ, oscillating at 2.5 Hz (18,000 vibrations per hour), a relatively slow tempo perfectly suited to this mechanical ballet. Similarly, the axis of the hours hands has been moved slightly upwards to leave more space for the tourbillon carriage shaped like a Maltese cross, the emblem of the Maison since 1880.
Once the calibre has been skeletonised, the work of the engraver consists of reworking the components, essentially the fixed parts, mainplate and bridges, in order to give depth to each surface and thus ensure optimal light reflection. The result is an impression of lightness due to the airy design of the movement, whose technical sophistication is highlighted by the meticulous work of the master artisans wherever their scorpers can cut into the material, including interior angles of less than 45°. This tonneau-shaped Calibre 2790 SQ with its complete absence of right angles offers a striking horological vision, enhanced by the opulence of the case. In the grand tradition of ultra-thin movements presented by the Manufacture throughout its history, it perpetuates the Maison’s expertise as much in terms of the technical mastery required to develop them as the aesthetic research required to transform them into works of art.
The Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon – Tribute to Haussmannian style bears the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva – a guarantee of fine craftsmanship, precision as well as High Watchmaking decoration – and comes fitted with a dark brown alligator leather strap secured by a folding clasp, also engraved in the style that was intended to "aerate, unify and embellish" Paris, exactly as Prefect Haussmann wished.
Les Cabinotiers Récits de Voyages series
Vacheron Constantin's vocation has always been to perfect the art of watchmaking in Geneva while remaining open to the world. The founder’s grandson Jacques-Barthélémi Vacheron (1787-1864) was the first to criss-cross the roads of France and Italy, followed by his partner François Constantin (1788-1854), a tireless traveller who oversaw the commercial development of the Maison. He established commercial relations with Central Europe, South America, Scandinavia and Asia, during a period in time when Vacheron Constantin was also gaining a foothold in the United States and China, as well as in Brazil, Hong Kong and Cuba.
François Constantin's correspondence stretching over a quarter of a century paints the portrait of a Manufacture that was open to a Europe undergoing major restructuring in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna. This scope and reach continued to expand as the Vacheron Constantin name crossed borders and conquered new markets. Since that time, the very notion of travel has been inherent to the values of the Maison, an integral part of the human adventure characterising its nearly 270-year history. Following in its founders’ footsteps, the Maison offers these Récits de Voyages series as a watchmaking odyssey through the world and its wonders, applying craftsmanship and mechanical art as its means of expression
As part of its new Les Cabinotiers – Récits de Voyages collection, which reflects its spirit of openness to the world, the Maison presents the single-piece Les Cabinotiers Malte Tourbillon – Tribute to Haussmannian style edition. Inspired by the major late 19th century construction projects that gave the French capital its current appearance, this tonneau-shaped 18K 5N pink gold watch bearing the Hallmark of Geneva, features ultra-thin in-house Calibre 2790 SQ with a tourbillon, date and power reserve. The entire case and movement have been expertly engraved. The bezel, case back and lugs feature gadrooned decoration, while the case middle is finely sculpted with a lion's head and frieze. The mainplate and bridges of the entirely skeletonised movement are also adorned with motifs recalling the structure of the Eiffel Tower. The technical sophistication of this watch is highlighted by means of dedicated hand-crafted ornamentation.
Interview with Sandrine Donguy, Product & Innovation Director
Could you share the relevance of this Parisian leg of the new Les Cabinotiers - Les Récits de Voyages collection?
Looking back at the origin of a project that consists in expressing Vacheron Constantin's spirit of openness to the world through timepieces – and the consequent efforts expended to establish commercial relations in new markets from a very early stage – it seemed to us that the Récits de Voyages formula was perfectly appropriate. All the more so given that the very extensive correspondence between Jacques-Barthélémi Vacheron and François Constantin from the time of their collaboration in 1819 – which is preserved in our archives and spans more than 20 years – frequently resembles a set of travel diaries, over and above the commercial aspects mentioned. This led us to imagine a journey that would represent the Maison’s international expansion. It naturally all began in Europe, in local markets, before destinations further afield took shape in the Americas, Asia and the Middle East. Paris was one of the first cities to interest Vacheron Constantin, not only because of its clientele but also because of the professional relationships that could be forged there. One may recall that as early as the 1750s, a decade corresponding to the origins of Vacheron Constantin, many of the great watchmaking minds travelled to Paris. For Vacheron Constantin, it was a natural outlet, as was Italy.
Why opt for the Malte watch?
The choice of the Malte watch can be explained first and foremost by the tonneau-shaped case that first appeared at Vacheron Constantin in 1912 and which at the time marked a break with the rounded form of pocket watches and even the first wristwatches. This transgression is reminiscent of Baron Haussmann, who did not hesitate to overturn established architectural codes in order to assert his vision of modern urban planning. These major works shaped the Paris we know today. For this European stage, we wanted to pay tribute to him with a watch that is historically just as subversive as his grand project, offered in a skeletonised version out of respect for this great architectural work. The engraver’s skills then come into play to highlight this incredible Calibre 2790 SQ, whose curved and rounded construction is a textbook example of such craftsmanship.
Why the choice of a sculpted lion on the body?
If you're visiting Paris, lions are everywhere. Sculptures in squares, parks and gardens, starting with the famous Belfort Lion on Place Denfert-Rochereau. They can also be found on doors and facades, lampposts, balconies, the pediments of public buildings and cemeteries... A symbol of power and majesty, the lion with its bushy mane is highly expressive when sculpted in bronze or stone. As Baron Haussmann's plans for Paris involved harmonising the facades of the major boulevards, he himself expressly encouraged their ornamentation. The lion, which was already well established in Paris, as in many other cities, became extraordinarily popular. Our Haussmann tribute could not fail to include the king of the jungle. This is an animal that we have already represented, notably in the form of a roaring lion ronde-bosse engraving sculpted on the bow of the Les Cabinotiers Westminster Sonnerie – Tribute to Johannes Vermeer watch. Here, it appears in an equally expressive version thanks to the talent of the master engraver lavished on the entire timepiece.
Malte tourbillon – Tribute to Haussmannian style
Hallmark of Geneva certified timepiece
Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin
29.3 mm diameter, 6.1 mm thick
Movement power reserve: approximately 45 hours
2.5 Hz (18’000 vibrations/hour)
Hours and minutes
Small seconds on tourbillon
18K 5N hand-engraved pink gold
41.5x38 mm diameter, 12.7 mm thick
Transparent sapphire crystal caseback
18K 5N grained pink gold
Brown Mississippiensis alligator leather with alligator leather inner shell, hand-stitched, saddle-finish, large square scales
18K 5N hand-engraved pink gold folding clasp
Presentation box & accessory Les Cabinotiers model
« Pièce unique », « Les Cabinotiers » and « AC » hallmark engraved on the back of the timepiece