The period between 1910 and the 1930s was, historically, one of turmoil and upheaval, up and downs. From the ashes of a world war came the Roaring Twenties, bringing with it a new sense of optimism and unbridled creative energy. And even the notoriously conservative Swiss weren’t immune to these daring new styles and out-there designs, as exemplified by a special exhibition from Vacheron Constantin at its Old Bond Street boutique this month, highlighting some of its most idiosyncratic creations from the era.
It was a time where the wristwatch was starting to hit its stride in mainstream popularity, bringing with it ample opportunity to innovate. And, in Vacheron Constantin’s case, this came in the form of bold and sophisticated new silhouettes and configurations, from eye-catching, curved shapes to atypical off-centre indications.
Among the most striking and coveted is a cushion-shaped design with unusual diagonal dial display, originally created to be easy to read with the hand on a steering wheel. The maison recently revived the style in a new collection, marking the 100th anniversary of its Historiques American, a watch designed for the US market in 1921. Now there’s the chance to see one of the early examples of this case shape in person at the exhibition – running until 24 May.
The sheer diversity on display showcases the pioneering nature of the watchmaker during this time. A lozenge design (Ref 11445) from 1925 plays with angles and lines, evoking the spirit of the Art Deco movement. Meanwhile, an earlier Ref 10347 from 1913 has a curvaceous, barrel-shaped outline, complete with intriguing finishing touches including a subtle Grecian frieze motif around the bezel. And during a visit to the exhibition the ‘La Vogue’ Ref 10754 from 1926 can’t help but catch the eye, an avant-garde piece defined by its cushion-shaped case enhanced with domed flanks, perfectly capturing the eccentric, yet sophisticated, aesthetic of the period.
Until 24 May 2021, 37 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4AB; vacheron-constantin.com