Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers collection is a lesson in artistry

Vacheron Constantin chose a somewhat unorthodox motif for their latest Métiers d’Art watches. When we think of flight or air travel, planes or jets come to mind. Some additional consideration may make you consider helicopters. But Vacheron has gone back to the very first flying machines: hot air balloons.

Between 1783 and 1785 in France, the Montgolfier conducted some radical air travel experiments, sending hot air balloons into the sky. They began with unmanned crafts, but later sent up some animals and finally became the first to experience flight themselves.

Their hot air balloons were made from taffeta and were intricately decorated. Now those flights are recreated in painstaking detail on the dials of the Métiers d’Art Les Aérostiers collection.

The collection includes five watches which each feature a different hot air balloon and flaunt a different color.

The dials all begin with a translucent plique-à-jour enamel background. Against this is the hot air balloon sculpted over three weeks to effectively capture the range of details.

A combination of techniques and plenty of expertise is required to create these faithful reproductions of a significant historical moment.

In order to display the time without marring the design with hands and numerals, the house used a Manufacture Caliber 2460 G4/1. This watch uses colored discs to reveal the date and time through gaps in the plique-à-jour enamel dial.

Each timepiece features a 40mm white gold case and is priced at $135,000.

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