Before I begin my introduction to the brand new Vacheron Constantin Égérie, I need to first establish that I am not a big fan of ladies’ watches, even though I am part of the demographic that they target. The reasons are grouped into two broad categories. Firstly, more often than not, ladies’ watches are the resized versions of their male counterparts, sometimes embellished with lavish diamonds and gemstones. That is not appealing to me, for I prefer a watch that is more subtle and plain. Secondly, the few that are conceived from the ground up to be a ladies watch – for example, the TEFNUT Sleeping Beauty of Moritz Grossmann x Caratell, Breguet Reine de Naples, Cartier Baignoire, Jaeger-LeCoultre Rendezvous Moon – mostly lean towards the side of being dainty, poised and decidedly feminine – all qualities which I wish I have but do not, unfortunately.
This launch by Vacheron Constantin, however, falls into neither category. Here, we have the Égérie, a collection designed for the modern lady, by a female designer in the manufacture. Of course, this is not its first specially-designed ladies’ collection, for the manufacture has been capturing the spirit and style of women through the different eras and instilling their essence in the various remarkable pieces that have appeared for over a century.
The NameThe Égérie collection is named after the nymph Egeria from Roman mythology – a beauty who inspired and bestowed sacred wisdom to Numa Pompilius, Rome’s second king. She was in fact, believed to be the main reason for Rome’s prosperity and peace during King Numa’s 42-year reign. Like its namesake, the Égérie collection draws from both the beauty of Haute Couture and the deep watchmaking knowledge of Vacheron Constantin, building the world of a “Haute Manufacture”.
The DesignFrom a design perspective, the collection is well-conceived, working beautifully as the modern reinterpretation of the Manufacture’s long history of off-centred displays featuring two intertwined circles. The asymmetrical concentric circles on the dial and the subtle diagonal line formed by the positioning of the crown between 1 and 2 o’clock, and the Vacheron Constantin logo, in sum, form the letter E of the logo of the collection – a very nice touch.The dial features various haute couture elements: a pleated pattern on the opaline silver dial made with the tapestry technique; a diamond halo on the bezel which resembles slender braiding; leaf-shaped hands that look like embroidery needles; as well as gracefully scripted numerals that are like scalloped lace.
Three Models and Two ComplicationsThere are three pieces in total: the self-winding and the moon phase (each with the option of a 18k 5N gold case with 3 self-interchangeable leather straps, or stainless steel with a matching bracelet); and lastly, a moon phase in diamond pavé.
On first impression, I was surprised at how the diamonds worked seamlessly into the overall look of the pieces, without overwhelming the other interesting elements. The stainless steel versions, in particular, seem sturdy enough for everyday wear.Something else that I really appreciate is the new system of interchangeable leather straps that is extremely easy to use. With a simple push and click, the wearer can switch up the look of the 18k gold models with either a night blue, chestnut, or raspberry pink strap. All the straps are equipped with their own 18k 5N gold buckles – a big hurray for long finger nails and zero tools!With regards to the date complications – there are two groups of watch wearers – those who need the date function, for practical reasons, and those who hate it, for aesthetic reasons. I belong to the former, since for me, form must always follow function. This makes the Égérie self-winding very appealing to me. Secondly, the manner in which the date complication is so beautifully blended in the dial, in an uncommon location within the circle at 2 o’clock is at once idiosyncratic as it is pure. My only quip is that it is sized at 35mm – a tiny bit too small for my wrist. I am sure that it will fit nicely on most ladies’ slender wrists though, so this is purely a matter of preference.The other complication featured here is one that I am sure will appeal to some ladies – the moon phase. Appearing at the top circle, the 18k gold moon set against a starry sky appears and disappears behind dreamy clouds made of mother-of-pearl. Also, it is sized nicely at 37mm, which I feel is the perfect size for a complication like this.The last of the collection is the arresting moonphase in diamond-pavé, which takes things a step further, being embellished with 510 diamonds on the dial and 292 diamonds on the case (totalling up to 4.85ct), topped by a 0.17 ct rose-cut diamond.
Beating within the series are the calibres 1088 and 1088L respectively. The sapphire crystal case-back displays proudly its haute horlogerie finishing, a hand-crafted Côtes de Genève motif, as well as the signature of the Manufacture, the openwork 22k gold oscillating weight inspired by the shape of the Maltese cross.What will come next, since there is a nice space in the dial tailor-made for other complications? Just a guess – may a second timezone or a power reserve indicator? I’m curious to see what the Manufacture will be doing with this new series, which could very well evolve into an iconic one in its own right.
The Égérie collection is available in Vacheron Constantin boutiques from the 1st of March 2020.