18k pink gold pocket watch with jumping hour aperture at 12 o'clock and three sub-dials for minutes, seconds and date. Silver guilloché dial.
Also 1827, this 18k yellow gold pocket watch featured jumping hours and quarter-repeater.
The Art Deco movement of the 1920s and 30s saw a tremendous increase in jumping hour watches and other "digital" indications. Vacheron & Constantin produced both pocket and wrist watch variations with jumping hours and wandering minutes. Pocket watches were also produced with date indications.
Vacheron & Constantin 18k yellow and white gold case. Silvered dial with small hours and minutes, calendar apertures at 3 and 9 o'clock, seconds and phases of the moon at 6 o'clock.
18k yellow and white gold case. Silvered dial with small hours and minutes, full calendar aperture, seconds at 6 o'clock. The inline day/date/month was also known as "Americaine" .
In addition to traditional round shapes, Vacheron & Constantin moved further into the spirit of the times with square and "rounded" square cases for pocket and wrist watches. The pocket watches in this shape were referred to as Smoking or Tuxedo watches.
This unique piece made use of a movement from the Swiss manufacture Niton S.A.
Bras en l'Air
Classified as a double-retrograde with one hand showing the hours and the other showing the minutes. This style provided many opportunities for creative displays.
By the 1940s, the Art Deco craze had passed and alternative time displays lost popularity until the 1990s.
Launched in 1994 on the 400th anniversary of the death of Gerardus Mercator, this new model from Vacheron Constantin once again made use of the double-retrograde, but this time with a different twist. In a tribute to the Dutch cartographer and geographer, the hands resembled the arms of a divider.
1994 - 1997
"Two versions were then available: in polychrome cloisonné enamel or gold. The enamel models, housed in 36mm yellow gold cases, were made in 50 pieces: 38 with the Africa/Europe/Asia dial and 12 with the Americas dial. These exceptionally refined dials owe their satin and glossy finishes to the superb quality of their enamelling done by Belgian artists Jean and Lucie Genbrugge.
The dials of the Mercators are enamelled using the champlevé method, meaning the 18k gold dial is first hollowed out in the shape of the continents and other geographical features as well as the two sectors for hours and minutes. The resulting recesses are then filled with multiple layers of opaque enamel to form a suitable background. Each layer needs to be carefully fired at a temperature of 700˚ to 800˚C. The operation needs to be repeated for each and every application of enamel, returning to the kiln a good thirty times or more, at various temperatures and for varying lengths of time depending on the colour and the quantity of enamel applied. Finally, the workpiece is coated with transparent flux and fired one last time at about 900˚C before smoothing and final polishing.
The appropriate details are then penned on each globe with the aid of a binocular microscope. Following this, a layer of protective fondant is applied to enhance and protect the finished work. Finally, the dials are extensively buffed until each is as flat and glossy as possible.
Each individual dial takes over twelve days to produce, meaning an average of just two dials can be made each month without taking into account the possible breaking as enamel is extremely brittle and unpredictable, requiring prudent and gradual cooling down to room temperature to avoid potentially destructive internal tensions that can cause the dial to shatter."
Other models with solid yellow or white gold dials and cased in yellow gold or platinum were offered, also featuring the same map representations.
Special editions for certain markets were also supplied.
Thailand, 20 pieces, with rose gold and platinum case
Over the 10 years of production, 638 pieces of all versions were made. A few of those even strayed from the original map theme. I find the Ferrari watch absolutely stunning! Alas, a unique piece.
The movement powering the Mercator was the Calibre 1120 extra-flat automatic, modified for its double-retrograte function. The compass arms progressively diverged along their separate arcs, one graduated for 12 hours and the other for 60 minutes, until they returned instantly to zero upon completion of a cycle, to begin again.
Also launched in 1994, the Heures Sautantes paid homage to those similar watches of the 1930s.