Good and Faithful Servants

Vacheron Constantin and a fine furry enameled friend.

Vacheron Constantin continues to further their line of watches that commemorate the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, with their Year of the Dog watch. This timepiece is rendered in two color schemes and done in exquisite enamel, to ensure that you’ll never be without man’s best friend.

Now, there are two color choices, in platinum or in pink gold. And each of these fine selections comes in a limited edition release of twelve watches each. So the choice is yours, but it would be best to choose swiftly, as it were. However, do take some time to appreciate the techniques in use here, because the craft being displayed in these watches is unusually intricate.

Paper-cutting is an art known to both East and West. In China, the craft is known as Jianzhi. The Swiss paper-cutting art is called Scherenschnitt. These crafts bring three-dimensionality out of a flattened material, and in the case of the Year of the Dog watches, they give the object not just form but almost life. The paper cutters sift and shape paper into a most astonishing artistic achievement, fitting for a representation of our beloved animal companions.

But the process does not stop there. Jianzhi, or Scherenschnitt, are the beginning of the decoration, but more is still to come. The foliage seen around the canine on the dial is etched directly into the metal. The patterns used for this were based on classic Chinese iconography, and in a very real sense, this iconography forms the basis for the entire timepiece. The ground on which it stands, you might say. By etching into the metal and then using various accentuating reliefs, the illusion of a much greater depth is made manifest. In effect, the lines carved into the metal now appear in the form of low-lying vegetation floating over the dial.


The Swiss paper-cutting art is called Scherenschnitt. These crafts bring three-dimensionality out of a flattened material, and in the case of the Year of the Dog watches, they give the object not just form but almost life.

These layers are achieved by the use of Grand Few enameling, a technique that is both very old and nowadays very rare. It is almost a shame to see how few people are following the masters into this trade ,but then it is a very exacting and demanding way of life. Enamel applied in a layer and then fired in a kiln, over and over in successive layers, forms shifts of color and texture, giving a result that can only be predicted by experience. If time alone will tell success, than the art of enameling makes human years seem like dog years, altogether too short but spent in the pursuit of an ultimately worthwhile goal.