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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Vacheron Constantin's Métiers d’Art La symbolique des laques Maki-e

The Year 2010,  Vacheron Constantin and Zôhiko worked togather to combined two ancient arts: watch making and maki-e, to craft the new Métiers d’Art collection.

This collection is also known as “The Three Friends of Winter”, which in Japanese culture symbolizes endurance and longevity in the face of bitter and severe conditions. They are also associated with the loyalty of a friendship that survives the hard times, symbolized by winter.

This is a extremely limited edition, with just twenty sets being made each year.

Not One But Three

This symbolique des laques theme will change over a period of three years.

Annually, the collection will introduce three distinctive masterpieces dedicated to natural creations possessing great spiritual or symbolic importance in Japanese culture. And each collection set is limited to twenty.

In total, there will be 9 designs, 60 sets.

The first set shown here explores the theme of long life with “The Three Friends of Winter”: the pine tree, bamboo, and the plum tree.

You migth have noticed that each of the “Three Friends of Winter” is paired with a bird.
The long-lived pine is pair with the crane, whose whiteness recalls the accumulation of years.

The Bamboo is accompanied by the sparrow, whose ceaseless activity symbolizes the vitality of the continually renewed bamboo.

And the plum tree is associated with the nightingale, because both celebrate the arrival of spring. One with its early flowers and the other with its song.
Each watch has a double maki-e dial. It is crafted in this fashion to reflect Japanese traditional lacquer ware style, which decorated even on their hidden surfaces, for example, on the insides of lids or the bottoms of boxes.
The tree design on the front dial of the watch is matched by the bird design on the back dial.

The Three Friends will be made using 1003, 14K white gold hollow mechanical movement, competing with the world’s thinnest mechanical works.
The beauty of the horological gear pattern is made visible through the cutaway central section in the dial with the pictorial beauty encircling it, revealing the artistry of a superbly skeletonized manually-wound movement.

Each dial in this collection is hand crafted by maki-e master Mr. Yamamoto using layers or black lacquer or urushiare applied on the solid 18-carat gold dial base and carefully polished.

About Zôhiko

In 1661, Yasui Shichibei-san ( 安井七兵衛, 1632–1692) opened a shop he named Zôgeya ( 象牙屋) which mean Ivory Home'. He sold sold lacquer-ware and Chinese products.

His successor was Kusunoki Jihei-san (楠治兵衛, 1659–1714) continued with the same focused on lacquerware.

After five generations, the family business was pass to Nishimura Hikobei-san (西村彦兵衛, 1719–1773), who was the head of production, because there was no heirs in the Kusunoki branch.

Kusunoki Jirôbei-san  (楠治郎兵衛, 1723–1784) left not only the shop but also the task of caring for his family’s tombs to his senior assistant, thus creating an indissoluble tie of successorship.

Till today, Zôhiko has been run by members of the Nishimura family, each of whom has taken the founder’s first name. Zôhiko’s current director is the ninth Nishimura Hikobei-san.

The third Hikobei (1806-1875) was granted the title “Master of maki-e” by the Emperor for the excellence of his work.

One of his most remarkable pieces is a maki-e panel representing the Fugen Bodhisattva on a white elephant. History says that the people of Kyoto were so charmed by the beauty of this image that they named it the “Zôhiko panel,” with “Zô” meaning the elephant and “Hiko” being the first part of Hikobei’s first name.

Zôhiko has had a longstanding relationship with the Japanese Imperial Court.

The fourth Hikobei was one of the Court’s official suppliers, and the current director made the reigning emperor’s official seat.

Zohiko, under the care of eight Hikobei (1887 - 1965), started exporting business dated back in end nineteenth century when Japan’s opened it door for foregin trading after the Meiji restoration. Hikobei was considered to be a pioneering figure in the lacquer industry. He also founded a maki-e school that became a standard of reference for many specialized lacquer artists.

Zôhiko’s long history reflects a tradition of excellence that is unparalleled in its respect for both artistic continuity and continually renewed creativity.

The collaboration project for Métiers d’Art – La symbolique des laques collection allows both companies to do it part of continuing to cultivate a tradition of watch marking and maki-e art. It demostrated Art is borderless, and result is three beauttiful crafted master pieces.

Watches Details
33222/000R-9506 – Pine Tree and Crane
33222/000R-9517 – Plum Tree and Nightingale
33222/000G-9521 – Bamboo and Sparrow

Movement 1003 SQ, skeletonised, 14-carat gold, ruthenium treated
Developed and crafted in-house by Vacheron Constantin
Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva
Energy: Mechanical hand winding
Movement thickness: 1.64 mm
Movement diameter: 20.80 mm
Jewels: 18 jewels
Frequency: 18,000 vibrations/hour
Indications: Hours, minutes
Power reserve: More 30 hours

Case And Dial
Case: 18-carat 4N rose gold
18-carat white gold
Diameter: 40 mm
Water resistance: 3 bar, equivalent to 30 metres
Dials: 18-carat gold coated with Japanese maki-e lacquer

Strap: Black alligator leather, large square scales
Hand-sewn, saddle-stitched
Clasp: Buckle in 18-carat 4N rose gold or 18-carat white gold
Polished half Maltese Cross


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