Is Watchmaking a Kind of Ballet?

VIDEO: Take a look at Vacheron Constantin's new video on the topic.

Dance lovers may regret that they cannot hold New York City Ballet in their hand–or take it home. But anybody who will own one of the timepieces presented by Vacheron Constantin at tonight’s spring gala will be reminded constantly of the magical fusion of precision, grace, beauty, and artistry that characterizes the Company’s productions.

Sponsoring New York City Ballet’s spring gala for the second consecutive year, Vacheron Constantin will honor three Edgar Degas ballet masterpieces dating from 1877 to 1888 in three unique masterpieces ofits own, each marrying traditional and modernist horological expertise. The Métiers d’Art Hommage à l’Art de la Danse watches are inspired by a ballerina’s daily life: learning, training, and performing.

The dials of these exquisite watches have been individually handcrafted by masters of Grand Feu grisaille enameling. Each component of a Vacheron Constantin timepiece is integral to the finished work, as is each dancer in a ballet.

When New York City Ballet master in chief Peter Martins learned that a Vacheron Constantin watch he was looking at contains 450 parts (as the video shows), it was clearly something he identified with from his experience as a dancer and choreographer, and as New York City Ballet’s artistic visionary.

“I’ve always found that when you have more than one pair of eyes, often you end up with a better product,” says Martins, likening the collaborative aspect of creating an unforgettable ballet to that of fine watchmaking. “Everyone who works at New York City Ballet is in service to something larger than themselves,” he adds.

Martins was chosen as George Balanchine’s successor by the great man himself, who once said: “You must go through tradition, absorb it, and become in a way a reincarnation of all the artistic periods that have come before you.”

Balanchine’s words echoed those of the poet Paul Valéry, a friend of Degas, who praised the painter’s eagerness for “all the newly introduced” ways of seeing things. In the same breath, Valéry spoke of Degas’s possession by “a rigorous spirit of classicism, to whose principles of elegance, simplicity and style” he was always devoted.

It is a legacy shared by the watchmakers of Vacheron Constantin, who have created the most sublime setting in which to make Degas’s delightful ballerinas dance again.

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