Vacheron Constantin has introduced a whole new Egerie collection that is as unlike the original line as it could possibly be. It is a new shape and size, new design, new movement, new functions, new finishes and new materials. It seems odd, in fact, to have named it the Egerie at all. The contrast between original and modern is reminiscent of the new Patek Philippe Twenty~Four two years ago, relaunched with a design that bore scant resemblance to the original from 20 years ago. The Egerie was first launched in 2003 with a tonneau case and large diamond-set numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock, but was discontinued a few years later. It was one of very few lines that represented a stand-alone ladies’ collection for the brand, including the 1972 and the limited-series high jewelry Heures Creatives models. Otherwise, Vacheron makes outstanding ladies’ versions of models in the regular men’s collections, including Patrimony, Overseas and Harmony, in smaller sizes and with diamond applications and, in some cases, scaled-down movements.
The name Egerie is a metaphor for the female muse and was originally taken from the title of a book, Egeries, dans l’ombre des creatuers (Muses in the Shadow of Creators). Vacheron also references the nymph Egerie from Roman mythology, who was a counselor to kings. It is also a French word that translates as “inspiration” and in this case, the muse is haute couture fashion, comparing watchmaking’s metiers d’art to the hand-craftsmanship that goes into finishing a couture gown, with beading, embroidery or lace. The alternating flat and raised surfaces of the guilloché pattern on the inner dial are meant to resemble pleats on a skirt. The lines are created using the “tapestry” technique, using a hand-operated pantograph-like engraving machine. The lines are repeated on the outer dial in lieu of an index track. The hands are designed to resemble sewing needles, and colored strap options add a high-fashion kick.
The price tag is also couture. The new Egerie timepieces are priced from $17,800 for a 30 mm quartz pink gold model to $62,000 for a 37 mm diamond-face moon phase version. With this new collection, Vacheron capitalizes on a growing market—watches in the $10,000-$25,000 segment are outselling those in any other price category, with a market share of 23%.
There are five references, including an automatic with a date window or a moon phase, both with case options in 18-karat white or rose gold or steel, along with the diamond-set moon phase model. Each has an off-centered subdial between 1 and 2 o’clock, surrounded by a diamond halo that showcases the complication. On the automatic, it displays an arced retrograde date within a round subdial, an unusual way to show that function, which is usually presented one way (linear) or the other (on a round index). The moon phase is fairly traditional, with a gold moon over a blue sky, but with mother-of-pearl clouds, which add femininity. The off-centered subdial is a design code used in 19th-century Vacheron pieces and often seen now in its Historique collection. The crown is also positioned off-center, between 1 and 2 o’clock, balanced by the Vacheron logo at the opposite edge of the dial, between 7 and 9 o’clock. Either a moonstone or a diamond is set into the crown.
The case of the automatic is 35 mm, large enough to be interesting and small enough to comfortably fit a woman’s wrist. The moon phase is a little larger, at 37 mm. Both are available in 18-karat pink or white gold with interchangeable straps in raspberry pink leather, night blue leather and candied chestnut in satin. The straps can be changed without the use of a tool, so no fingernails will be injured in the process of changing them. The stainless steel version of the automatic comes with a steel bracelet. All bezels are set with 58 diamonds that total .88 carat on the 35 mm case and a full carat on the 37 mm case. There is a full pavé diamond version of the moon phase, priced at $81,500, set with 823 diamonds on the case, dial and buckle (844 diamonds if you count the diamonds on both buckles since it comes with two straps).