Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Westminster Sonnerie – Tribute to Johannes Vermeer is a pocket watch made by the Les Cabinotiers department according to the client’s preferences. It is fitted with a new in-house movement, Calibre 3761 with Grande Sonnerie and tourbillon. The timepiece’s case is hand-engraved on its bezel, back, and sides using various artisanal techniques, as well as topped by a bow garnished with two hand-sculpted lion heads. The officer-type caseback features a miniature enamel reproduction of Vermeer’s famous painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, created by enameller Anita Porchet.
The Les Cabinotiers Westminster Sonnerie – Tribute to Johannes Vermeer pocket watch is powered by a new 806-part manual winding calibre, regulated by a tourbillon and comprising Grande and Petite Sonnerie Westminster chimes, coupled with a minute repeater. Measuring 71 mm in diameter and 17 mm thick, Calibre 3761 is regulated by a tourbillon positioned on the lower part of the movement, visible through the caseback and performing one full revolution per minute. The tourbillon is driven by a 2.5Hz balance (18,000 vibrations per hour). The Westminster chime is fitted with one of the most complicated striking mechanism to build, as it requires a sequence of five gongs struck in perfect harmony by their hammers controlled by four racks.
All the components of the pocket watch are hand-finished: from the completely engraved balance bridge to the bridges buffed with diamond paste to achieve a mirror-polished finish, as well as the galvanic treatment of the plates adorned with Côtes de Genève and featuring a soft champagne color.
To reproduce Girl with a Pearl Earring, painted circa 1665 by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, the “Geneva” enamel miniature technique was selected. Enameller Anita Porchet applies colors to a canvas, enabling a meticulous depiction – under a binocular microscope – of even the smallest details. After each phase, the colors are stabilized by firings in the kiln, with no chance of touch ups. The main watch dial is Grand Feu enameled in an eggshell color with blue enameled Roman numerals.
The bow of the watch features two roaring lions. At the client’s request, these three-dimensional ronde bosse sculptures are inspired by classical statues. Sculpted in a block of gold, they embody a rare degree of mastery. Before working the material in its raw state, the Vacheron Constantin engraver made several 3D prints to determine the right volumes that would enable her to express her art. To craft the lions’ heads, she drew with a tracing point the outlines of the two profiles, from the front and from above. The engraver first used a milling cutter to rough out the material and then several burins for increasingly fine and accurate work. The details of the satin-brushed, matt and polished textures were received using specific tools, some created for the occasion.
The case sides are graced with hand-engraved friezes composed of acanthus leaves and tulips, accompanied by a “pearl” rim.