Vacheron Les MasquesThe Les Masques watches from Vacheron Constantine are not traditional by any means, and perhaps even a far cry from what many have come to associate with the Vacheron brand. But this observation is not an insult to these new additions to the Métiers d’Art collection, in fact far from it. I find these watches to be visually refreshing and I marvel at the attention to detail taken while reproducing the masks. They are a unique accomplishment, melding the best of design and function. And while some people will balk at the non-traditional use of masks on watches such as these, I find myself drawn to them. The only problem I foresee would be choosing which one to wear first, were I lucky enough to own them.

Vacheron Mask WatchThe Masque watches, released in 2007, are only the first four of the twelve to be created. When complete, the collection will consist of 3 sets, with one set released each of the three years. There will be four watches in each set, 25 pieces of each. Each of these twelve watches will have a different ancient mask on the dial. The four masks chosen for the first set are a Chinese death mask, a Congolese face mask, an Indonesian theatre mask and an Alaskan frontal mask. They are exact miniature reproductions of actual primitive art masks from the Barbier-Mueller Museum in Geneva. The miniatures were created by scanning the real masks to get a three-dimensional image. Then producing a prototype in gold that was given to an engraver who meticulously carved the masks to replicate the exact look of these ancient artifacts.

Vacheron Constantin MaskAfter the masks themselves are produced they are then incorporated into the watches. The way the masks are placed and the specially-treated glass makes them seem to be floating in space. Each mask is set on a sapphire dial that has been tinted in a complementary color. Each dial is engraved with an individual poem written by a famous a French writer named Michel Butor. The poems themselves are only visible at certain angles accomplished by engraving the underside of each crystal with the words of the poem before filling the engraving with gold. The placement of the hours, minutes, days and date in four separate dials is somewhat non-traditional in itself. The 40 mm cases are produced in white gold for the Alaskan mask, pink gold for the Indonesian mask, yellow gold for the Chinese mask, and platinum for the Congolese mask.

Vacheron Constantin Mask WatchWhile the design of the Les Métiers d’Art “Les Masques” watches are unique, the movement used is the same cal. 2460 found in the Les Métiers d’Art “4 Saisons” unveiled for Vacheron Constantin's 250th anniversary which took place in 2005. They have a transparent caseback and are water resistant to 30 meters.

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