Art on the Wrist: The Medieval Illuminations of Vacheron Constantin


Popular during the 12th and 13 centuries, bestiaries were illustrated books of beats, some real and some mythological. The Aberdeen Bestiary, dates is one of the best preserved 12th-century manuscripts of the kind, with animals depicted in rich and bold colors, predominantly saturated blues and reds, set off against a burnished gold leaf background. The medieval encyclopedia of 103 folios has now inspired the new Savoirs Enluminés series by Vacheron Contantin.


The collection faithfully reproduces the miniaturized illuminations of the original manuscript, combining Grand Feu enameling with miniature painting to recreate three creatures featured in the medieval book: the “Altion,” a fictitious seabird with webbed feet, a saw bill, and blue green plumage; the “Caper” or mountain goat, rendered in a fantastical midnight blue scratching its head with its hind leg; and two fierce birds of prey opposing each other in a circle.


The complexity of each timepiece can be observed thanks to a twin-level 22-carat gold dial. The upper element with the fantastic creature in its center marries the champlevé enameling technique and miniature painting, with the enameled gold background textured by hand to emulate the original uneven gold leaf of the illustrated book. The dial’s lower level features Latin text taken from the Aberdeen Bestiary painted in gold. Between these two levels, the hour numbers for minutes and hours slide from top to bottom on a transparent disk.

Only 20 timepieces will be produced for each creature.


AS first published on BLOUINARTINFO.COM