[dropcap size=small]F[/dropcap]rom simple models with large, easy-to-read numerals to complex chronographs, aviation-inspired watches rank high among collectors’ favourites. However, those not inclined towards purpose-built, practical timepieces might prefer Vacheron Constantin’s latest artistic watches, which take whimsical inspiration from a different kind of aircraft altogether.
The Metiers d’Art Les Aerostiers collection comprises five designs paying tribute to historical hot-air balloon flights that took place in France between 1783 and 1785. Engraving, micro-sculpting and enamelling techniques are used to create three- dimensional tableaus against a stained glass-like background.
In the Versailles 1783 model, a hot-air balloon takes flight for the first time, carrying a sheep, rooster and duck. These animals – and even the balloon’s ropes, slightly damaged by the landing – are faithfully reproduced by artisans, who take up to three weeks to recreate each balloon design from drawings. Only five pieces of each design will be produced, so we reckon it won’t be long before the collection disappears into the horizon.