Seventeen years after launch, the Égérie is reimagined, ditching cushion-shaped cases for circular designs and diamond-set bezels
Despite constituting one of what watch collectors like to call the ‘Big Three’ – the oldest and most revered maisons in Swiss watchmaking – Vacheron Constantin – more so than Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, the other two members of that horologic holy trinity, of whom even the greenest of horologic neophytes will be aware – has always been a brand valued by those who know their in-house movements from their ébauches.
The brand doesn’t do celebrity ambassadors – unless you consider British artist and poet Benjamin Clementine to be a household name. Nor will you see its name emblazoned on F1 paddocks or the sides of polo pitches. In a game of Guess the Logo, only the nerdiest of watch geeks will identify the brand’s Maltese Cross.
Yet while Vacheron Constantin might constitute the smallest of the Big Three – it produces around 25,000 timepieces a year compared to Audemars Piguet’s 40,000 and Patek Philippe’s rumoured 58,000 – it is by far the oldest. Vacheron Constantin is, in fact, the oldest continually operating of any watchmaker, able to trace an unbroken line of production back to 1755.
In 1885 the company created the first nonmagnetic timepiece, using only palladium, bronze and gold in its construction; in 1919, it manufactured the world’s most complicated pocket watch for automobile magnate James Ward Packard (the watch was sold at Christie’s auction house in 2011 for more than $2m).
Other notable creations include the ‘Kallista’, which, with 118 emerald-cut diamonds, a case fashioned from a 1kg gold ingot and an asking price of $7m, became the world’s most expensive timepiece in 1979. Then there’s the 57260 pocket watch. Emerging from Vacheron Constantin’s Geneva headquarters in 2015, following eight years of R&D, the 57260 succeeded Patek Philippe’s Calibre 89 as the most complicated mechanical time-telling device ever created. It has 57 complications, 31 hands, 2,826 moving parts and a kerb weight of almost one kilogram.
The brand launched Égérie, a standalone, tonneau-shaped ladies collection with oversized diamond numerals and mother of pearl dials in 2003. Seventeen years later, the family resurfaces, ditching the cushion-shaped case for circular designs and bezels set with diamonds.
Comprising three models – the Égérie Self-Winding, Égérie Moon Phase and Égérie Moon Phase Diamond-Pavé – the high jewellery collection draws inspiration from the intricate craftsmanship employed in couture fashion. The watch dial features a pleated effect, redolent of delicate fabric finishing; halos of diamonds, reminiscent of braiding; and Arabic numerals daintily scalloped to look like lace.
The entry-level 35mm Égérie Self-Winding features a bezel overstitched with 58 diamonds and a delicate dial of intertwined textures made of opaline silver. The Moon Phase variant sports the same textured dial but has been upped to 37mm in order to incorporate at two o’clock the complication from which it takes its name. Both models are available in steel or 18K rose gold. The gold option arrives with three interchangeable leather straps that can be switched-up without the use of tools. Choose between pink, brown and blue leather.
Topping the collection is white gold Égérie Moon Phase Diamond-Pavé, a full-on haute couture creation with 802 diamonds – 292 on the bezel and case; 510 on the dial – intended to mimic the intricacy of precious embroidery. All three models are equipped with an in-house self-winding movement, providing 40 hours of autonomy once fully wound. Each arrives with a sapphire crystal case-back, revealing a hand-crafted Côtes de Genève motif, as well as a delicately openwork 22K gold oscillating weight shaped in the fashion of the brand’s Maltese cross. The collection will be available in all Vacheron Constantin boutiques – and authorised points of sale – from 1 March 2020.
Égérie Self-Winding, from £18,500; Égérie Moon Phase, from £22,800; Égérie Moon Phase Diamond-Pavé, £56,800, 37 Old Bond Street, vacheron-constantin.com