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Vacheron Constantin has introduced the next in the series of "Les Masques" timepieces, part of Vacheron's Metiers d'Art watch collection. The first set, introduced in 2007, bore miniature reproductions inspired by primitive arts masks from China, Alaska, the Congo and Indonesia. The miniature masks were created by scanning the originals to get a three-dimensional image, then a prototype was given to an engraver who meticulously carved the masks to replicate the exact look of these ancient artifacts. This year Vacheron set out to outdo the beauty and attention to detail of last years models with four more exquiste reproductions, this time inspire by masks from Mexico, Japan, Gabon, and Papua New Guinea.
Beginning in 2007 Vacheron Constantin planned to release the Les Masques collection as sets of four watches, one set released each year in a limited edition of 25 for 3 years. This years release is the second in the series that has been meet with much excitement. The timepieces were inspired from artwork found in the Barbier-Mueller collection - a collection of over 7,000 pieces which includes artwork from tribal, classical and other primitive civilizations from around the globe. When all the watches have been released, the collection will consist of twelve watches each with a different mask with representatives from the continents of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania.
Each of the four watches to a set is produced from a different metal - yellow gold, white gold, pink gold and platinum. The miniature masks appear upon a transparent sapphire crystal, and each watch is engraved with a poem by French writer Michel Butor. For the 2008 models the engravers were pushed to outdo themselves and spent countless hours to ensure that the smallest detail on each mask was represented on the miniature reproductions. Particular attention was paid to the original material of the masks. When copying the clay based Mexico mask, extra time was spent to ensure that the rough aspect of the pottery's surface was reproduced.
The 2008 Japan Mask was inspired from a ritual Buddha mask from the second half of 19th century. The original mask was made of lacquered wood with gilded and blue pigments. This mask is set on a yellow gold watch case with a blue dial. The Mexico Mask was inspired from a fragment of a mask-shaped censer from the Mayan civilisation of 550-950 AD. The fragment is ceramic and the piece is actually believed to be part of a decorated chimney. The case for the watch is made from pink gold. The Gabon Mask is a Pibibuze mask made by the Kwélé people. It is made from polychrome semi-hard wood and has an aged patina. The actual time of this masks creation is unknown though it was aquired before 1930. The case for this watch is made from white gold. The final mask is the Papua New Guinea Mask created from wood, pigments, and Conus sp. shells. This beautiful red mask is set on a grey dial, the case of the watch is platinum.