Beautifully encapsulating the Art Deco design spirit, the present lot showcases the talents of some of the finest maisons of the era. In the rarefied world of 1920s desk timepieces, small objects d’art take on even greater charm as time-telling instruments. In this example, the case, dial and movement represent the work of some of the most important makers, culminating to create one of the most alluring examples of its type.
The movement is signed by Vacheron Constantin, whose work is found in some of the most celebrated pieces of this type. In creating these masterpieces, they worked in close collaboration with Verger Frères, a renowned French firm who was known to be the Paris representative of Vacheron Constantin between 1880 and 1930. In this partnership, Vacheron Constantin would create movements, and upon arrival in Paris, Verger Frères would case them in watch and clock cases. Additional items from this collaboration were also retailed in many of the other fine jewellery salons of the era, such as Tiffany & Co., Lacloche Frères, Ostertag, Charlton & Co, and in the present example, Black Starr & Frost.
These pieces made brilliant use of carved hardstones, favouring Eastern-themed motifs, resembling Buddhist figures or exotic creatures such as elephants, gazelles, parrots and monkeys.
The intricately detailed mother-of-pearl dial is the work of Vladimir Makovsky, an artist whose works made frequent reference to the exotic lands and faraway adventures after a lifetime of travels. His creations can be found on pieces made for Vacheron Constantin, Van Cleef & Arpels and Cartier, among others.
In the present example, the representation of an heavenly garden is exquisitely rendered. It is breathtaking to see such a juxtaposition of colours and textures in such small format. The attention to details is also extremely high with for example the shadow of the fawn in the water.
For additional desk clocks made by Verger Frères for Vacheron Constantin, see Cologni, F., Secrets of Vacheron Constantin, p. 330-1. For pendant watches made by the two firms with chinoiserie motifs, see pages 286 and 302. See also pieces on view in the summer 2011 exhibition 'Treasures of Vacheron Constantin: A Legacy of Watchmaking since 1755', held at the National Museum of Singapore. These pieces are illustrated on pp. 179-181 of the exhibition catalogue.