Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers La Musique Du Temps Minute Repeater Tourbillon Four Seasons: Chime, Chime, Chime For Every Season
Oh delicate spring, signal of life
The earth awakens from a long slumber.
Fair and sustaining summer,
Days stretch as youth imbibes the sun.
Graceful autumn, the light wanes,
Reap the bounty from lands bosom.
Quiet winter, stillness spreads like a blanket,
A world prepares for rebirth, to meet itself anew.
The four seasons have captivated the arts for centuries (and probably longer), providing ample inspiration for a variety of works from music, dance, painting, sculpture, cinema – and even my own poetry (see above).
The shifting seasons call to people to embrace change and understand that nothing lasts forever, providing a stark reminder of the circle of life.
But even if you don’t go that deep, the seasons remind us of special moments in our lives, milestones with a backdrop of sun or snow or a crackling fire. There is something visceral about the changing of the seasons, and many have tried to capture it if only to hold on to the feeling a bit longer.
Vivaldi famously used violin concertos to translate the phenomenon, and hall-of-famer pop band The Four Seasons (who borrowed its name from a bowling alley) crooned under a seasonal aura during the 1960s and ’70s (though “Turn, Turn, Turn,” whose lyrics I played with for the title of this story, was most famously recorded by The Byrds).
Painters have made allegories under the patronage of kings, emperors, cardinals, and wealthy philanthropists, and a ballet based on the four seasons was performed by the New York City Ballet multiple times over the past 40 years.
Even businesses see the appeal, the most famous being the hotel chain that defines luxury and comfort named (you guessed it) the Four Seasons.
It seems that people inherently associate the four seasons with life, expression, and the world around them. It makes sense: nearly everyone not living on the equator is very aware of how seasons change the way the world works and how it makes them feel in any given moment. We are still part of nature, and the seasons are integral to nature’s rhythms.
It comes as no surprise then that the watch brand often associated with highly artistic métiers d’art creations has crafted a set of four unique timepieces to highlight the four seasons using colorful carp and delicate melodies.
Part of the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers La Musique du Temps Collection, the Minute Repeater Tourbillon Four Seasons are four beautiful examples of what happens when you combine centuries of know how regarding chiming watches and the best skilled artisans in the business.
Engraving the four seasons
The newly released watches dazzle with sights and sounds for the wrist: Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Four Seasons are part of a trove of chiming watches (11 to be exact) launched all at once by Vacheron Constantin.
I think it’s safe to say that the dazzling was accomplished, as many, if not all, of the watches are deserving of in-depth discussion in their own rights. But the Four Seasons pieces are, in my eyes, the most indicative of the essence of Vacheron Constantin and its ability to make astonishingly beautiful pieces matched by awesomely incredible mechanics.
The Four Seasons are a set of four unique watches based on bas-relief engravings of carp swimming through scenes relative to the seasons.
On top of those engravings are a complex series of enamel finishes – 12 colors requiring 15 firings – that envelop the deep engravings and create a scene that truly gives the impression of a view into a pond with a three-dimensional fish swimming underneath flowers, lily pads, leaves, or, in the case of the winter version, a layer of ice covering the water.
The engravings are up to 1.35 millimeters in depth, allowing a lot of room to create separation for the visual and real shadows to occur. The detail is pretty incredible, and the engravings take upwards of 60 hours of work before the gold dial is ready for the enameler.
Each of the pieces is stunning in a different way, with spring and summer feeling like siblings with the bright greens of the lily pads and the colorful flowers. The fall version is the most somber with red leaves floating on the water and what looks like a dark, pebbly river bottom beneath the white and orange fish.
But, strangely, my favorite of the quartet is the winter variation: it feels like deep meditation and a crisp adventure all in the same dial. The lack of the variety of different colors found in the other versions and instead the interplay between whites, grays, muted blues, and then the colorful carp feels the most cohesive, at least for my personal design sensibilities.
Regardless of a favorite version, though, each dial is a masterpiece of artistic craft and would rival paintings in the best art collections around the world. For many the painting on the wrist would be enough, but that is just the beginning for Vacheron Constantin.
A window in the dial provides a hint at just what lies beneath thanks to the Maltese cross-shaped tourbillon whirling at 6 o’clock. But the most indicative component is that little slider on the left side of the case that gives away what truly lies beneath: a minute repeater.
Caliber 2755 TMR first debuted in 2017 as a spin-off to Caliber 2755 QP (launched 2005 as the 2755), which is a perpetual calendar and minute repeater with tourbillon. The new variation of the movement here loses the perpetual calendar, saving nearly two millimeters in thickness.
Since the perpetual calendar mechanism was beneath the dial, the rear of the movement doesn’t really change in appearance, and now the minute repeater mechanism is hidden just beneath the dial.
And thanks to the loss of the perpetual calendar mechanism, the artists could increase the depth of the dial (which is usually less than half a millimeter thick) making the overall thickness of the watch similar to other masterpieces powered by the 2755 caliber.
I know that with the engraved enamel dials we can’t see the minute repeater mechanism, but I still enjoy this caliber more simply because it streamlines (as much as a minute repeater can) the movement and opens up possibilities, one of which has been explored with a different caliber in one of the other new releases, the Les Cabinotiers Openworked Tourbillon.
Even if I can only admire the minute repeater mechanism in photos of the caliber, I will still geek out over the awesome assembly.
Vacheron Constantin has a way of making its complicated calibers feel restrained in the chaos, something that might be attributed to the consistency and simplicity of the finishing. Instead of dramatic variations going from blasted to brushed to black polished to circular grained to striped, the manufacture keeps it clean with mostly straight-grained surfaces and polished bevels, allowing the shapes to define the visual impact.
One might point out that this is possibly because the movement is not intended to be seen as it is hidden underneath a dial, but it still meets the Geneva Seal standards, which is largely concerned with top-notch finishing.
Effects may differ
Personally, the only thing I would change about the movement would be to make it inverted so the chiming mechanism would be hidden underneath the dial and the repeater mechanism visible through the back as that would be more fun to watch in operation.
But, really, that isn’t the point: the sound and the visuals of the dial are. The incredible craftsmanship of the watchmakers, engravers, and enamelers are all on display when you wear the watch, and the expertise of Vacheron Constantin can be heard every time the minute repeater is activated.
That says something about the intended buyers as well. Owners of a watch like this won’t necessarily want to get an eyeful of complex mechanics that make the head spin every time they look down at their watches; they want to feel the emotion of the season as it mingles with the delicate chime marking the passing of time.
The Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Four Seasons is entirely about emotion first and foremost.
Calling people to identify or relate to a specific season, to get lost in the scene, and be brought back with the delicate ring of the steel gongs is about inciting an experience or a memory. Too often we forget to take a moment to appreciate the here and now, the steady march of time, and what we experience on the journey.
The Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Four Seasons is an ode to the journey we all must take, the journey that even our great big planet takes every year as it grows, dies, and is reborn. We can celebrate the mechanics and ingenuity behind the movement, but Vacheron Constantin wants you to celebrate life itself. And its fleeting nature.
Sure, perhaps I am projecting a bit onto these beautiful pieces of art and sculpture, but given how important the seasons have been to artists for centuries, I think it’s clear that the Four Seasons models are a callback to artists throughout history, and by extension all the themes they tried to convey through each piece of art.
After all, that is what the Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Four Seasons are: four unique pieces of wearable art.
An artist may die, but the art lasts forever. Though not if I need to break it down, like right now!
- Wowza Factor * 9.4 Artistic crafts always wow, and the examples put out by Vacheron Constantin are usually at the top of the list!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 101.1» 991.452m/s2 If the sound doesn’t keep you awake, then the mesmerizing dials sure will!
- M.G.R. * 65.5 Minute repeaters and tourbillons are a pretty good way to get a high geek rating in the movement department!
- Added-Functionitis * Moderate Two added functions bring these pieces into the middle of the pack, even though one of those features is a drastically complex function. Still, you should be able to get by with extra-strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream!
- Ouch Outline * 11.1 Small cuts on every finger being exposed to an alcohol wipe! Yikes, it always surprises me. I get cut a lot in my day job, and sometimes it conspires to shock me when I discover that every single finger on one hand has a cut on it, brought to my attention by the paper towel soaked with denatured alcohol currently in said hand. Still, I’d take that any day if it meant I got the winter version of the Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Four Seasons on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * The depth lets me fall right in! The amount of depth found in the dial engravings is simply marvelous and enough to make me head to Tiffany’s to pick out a ring!
- Awesome Total * 753.6 Begin with the number of seasons represented (4) and multiply by the number of components in the movement (471), then divide by the balance frequency in Hz (2.5) for stunningly awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.presslounge.vacheron-constantin.com/la-musique-du-temps-les-cabinotiers-minute-repeater-tourbillon-four-seasons.
Quick Facts Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Four Seasons La Musique du Temps
Case: 44 x 13.5 mm, 3N yellow, 5N red gold, white gold, 950 platinum
Movement: manual winding Caliber 2755 TMR with one-minute tourbillon, approximately 58-hour power reserve, 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, Geneva Seal
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; minute repeater, power reserve
Price: on request