Vermeer’s most well-known portray is now a part of a bespoke single-piece version. The Les Cabinotiers Westminster Sonnerie from Vacheron Constantin is powered by a brand new 806-part handbook winding motion, regulated by a tourbillon and comprising grande and petite sonnerie Westminster chimes, coupled with a minute repeater.
The results of a mission first undertaken in 2013, the Les Cabinotiers Westminster Sonnerie – Tribute to Johannes Vermeer is a bespoke, single-piece version incorporating the total palette of expertise cultivated by Vacheron Constantin, from haute horlogerie to the ornamental arts.
Johannes Vermeer (October 1632 – December 1675) painted the pearl earring with solely two strokes of white paint. It took much more to create the brand new Les Cabinotiers Westminster Sonnerie – Tribute to Johannes Vermeer. Vacheron Constantin’s Ref. 9910C/000J-B413 was created on the request of a collector for whom “ardour lies in all the time searching for that which is theoretically unattainable to acquire.” The mission began in 2013 and took the group eight years to finish.
It’s not stunning that the 98-mm pocket watch can also be outfitted with a brand new in-house motion, Calibre 3761, which was specifically developed by the identical group of watchmakers that was already accountable for the Ref. 57260 launched in 2015, that includes 57 issues. This new 806-part handbook winding caliber with tourbillon regulator options grande and petite sonnerie Westminster chime mechanisms coupled with a minute repeater. “I had lengthy dreamed of getting an actual Westminster chime pocketwatch in my assortment putting 5 gongs with 5 hammers, that includes a grande and petite sonnerie and adorned with miniature enamel.” Such was the considering of the consumer who has commissioned this mannequin, resulting in the creation of Calibre 3761 measuring 71 mm in diameter and 17 mm thick. It’s regulated by a tourbillon positioned on the decrease a part of the motion, seen by means of the caseback and performing one full revolution per minute. The tourbillon is pushed by a 2.5-Hz stability (18,000 vibrations per hour).
The officer-type caseback cowl encompasses a miniature enamel portray, finely crafted utilizing the Geneva method and reproducing the Woman with a Pearl Earring from Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer.
The Westminster chime is taken into account one of the vital sophisticated putting mechanisms to construct, because it requires a sequence of 5 gongs struck in good concord by their respective hammers managed by 4 racks. In wristwatches, grande sonnerie (grand strike) mechanisms are often operated by a single rack, primarily for causes of miniaturization. The 4 rack and snail resolution, with 4 racks for the hour and quarter chimes and one rack for the minute repeater, enhances the sequencing of the melodies and, as an added subtlety, allows totally different melodies to be performed when passing the quarters.
First examined earlier than being cased-up, the gongs are formed in such a approach as to acquire the best be aware for every of them. This requires touching up with a file to realize an ideal sound. There can, nevertheless, be surprises as soon as the chiming mechanism is cased up. In line with Vacheron Constantin, two of the 5 unique gongs had to get replaced for the sake of concord. By modifying the metal alloys, the sound of the 2 new gongs acquired a extra crystal-clear tone, solely in tune with the opposite three.
Vacheron Constantin’s Calibre 3761 is supplied with a centripetal strike governor guaranteeing good regularity of the musical sequences, of which “the notes have to be each distinctly audible and pleasing to the ear.” The system is characterised by a pair of weights whose very particular form has been optimized in order to generate a form of “engine-braking impact” — by centripetal power — on the regulator’s pivot axis, thereby night out the vitality launched by the barrel. This distinctive and unique gadget can also be completely silent, in response to Vacheron Constantin. In one other particular characteristic relating to the circulate of time, the caliber homes a double-wheel system with clearance adjustment. Given the dimensions of the arms, as a way to keep away from any potential jerking of the seconds hand positioned at 6 o’clock, such a mechanism ensures its easy circulate due to a system primarily based on two co-axial toothed wheels linked by a spring serving to get rid of gear play.
In “Sonnerie” (strike) mode, the watch is routinely activated every time the quarters change, like a clock. In “Night time Silence” mode, a particular characteristic particularly developed and tailored to this 3761 caliber, in response to the time zone chosen by the proprietor, the alarm is deactivated between 11 pm and 9 am. The third and final “Silence” mode fully suspends the putting mechanism. A second selector, positioned between 10 and 11 o’clock, serves to change from grande sonnerie to petite sonnerie as most well-liked. The 2 barrels guarantee autonomy of roughly 16 hours for the musical mechanism in “Grande Sonnerie” mode and 80 hours for the time indications, with secure torque assured till the tip of the facility reserve.
An extra issue with this single-piece version was that it was unattainable to case up your entire completed motion, and a part of the ultimate meeting needed to be accomplished straight contained in the case. Given the extent of ending and ornament of every part, together with the case, in addition to the truth that any dealing with manipulation may probably impair the standard, the ten operations concerned in becoming the caliber — which needed to be eliminated the identical variety of instances for retouching — adopted by the ultimate meeting required an uncommonly deft contact. In the long run, a really small group of specialised watchmakers performed the making of this Calibre 3761, from the event, manufacturing and ending of the varied parts to the ultimate meeting and casing-up of the motion.
The case sides are embellished with hand-engraved friezes composed of acanthus leaves and tulips, accompanied by a “pearl” rim, whereas the bow is adorned with two roaring lion heads carved from a block of gold.
All of the motion parts are hand-finished – from the fully engraved stability bridge to the bridges buffed with diamond paste to realize a mirror-polished end, in addition to the galvanic therapy of the plates adorned with côtes de Genève and that includes a gentle champagne coloration. The work on the ratchet wheel and the 2 barrel wheels alone took a full week to brighten.
The officer-type caseback cowl encompasses a miniature enamel portray, finely crafted utilizing the Geneva method. The case sides are embellished with hand-engraved friezes composed of acanthus leaves and tulips, accompanied by a “pearl” rim, whereas the bow is adorned with two roaring lion heads carved from a block of gold. A complete of 5 months of extraordinarily meticulous craftsmanship was required to engrave and sculpt the varied components of the pocketwatch.
Calibre 3761 consists of 806 elements and measures 71 mm in diameter and 17 mm thick. The motion signifies hours, minutes and small seconds. The handbook winding calibre with tourbillon regulator additionally options grande and petite sonnerie Westminster chime mechanisms coupled with a minute repeater.
The consumer had requested that the quilt of the officer-type caseback ought to characteristic a miniature enamel portray by enameler Anita Porchet. The impartial enamelist has already labored for quite a few watch manufacturers during the last twenty years, and has gained quite a few prizes for her work in enameling and miniature portray. The work finally chosen was Woman with a Pearl Earring, one of many world’s most recognizable work.
Subsequent to the problem of reproducing the work of a fantastic grasp, the dimensions of the 98-mm-diameter floor implied further difficulties. This measurement of watch, corresponding extra to that of historic carriage watches than to a pocket mannequin, requires a level of dexterity all of the extra correct in that the slightest irregularity is obviously apparent. The result’s harking back to the grand miniature enamel portray custom during which Geneva got here to specialize. At the moment, just a few uncommon enamelers nonetheless grasp these methods. Porchet spent seven months of intermittent work to carry this portrait to life. The analysis and improvement work — notably referring to the pigments and enamels for use — started in 2018 and the ultimate consequence was accomplished in 2020 (the primary watch dial is grand feu enameled in an eggshell coloration with blue enameled Roman numerals).
The corporate’s motto “Faire mieux si doable, ce qui est toujours doable” (Do higher if doable and that’s all the time doable), first appeared in Constantin’s letter to Jacques-Barthélémy, dated July 5, 1819. It can be discovered on the brand new Calibre 3761 with 5 gongs.
An observant and deliberate painter, Vermeer produced solely few recognized works in his lifetime. His most well-known portray, Woman with a Pearl Earring, impressed not solely a best-selling novel and Oscar-nominated movie however now additionally a horological masterpiece.