Fragranced watches are the future, predicts Vacheron Constantin at Watches and Wonders 2024

Vacheron Constantin unites with fashion designer Yiqing Yin on fragranced concept watch ‘Égérie – The Pleats of Time’

watch with purple dial
(Image credit: Vacheron Constantin)

Concept watches are a fascinating thing, allowing brands to flex their technically accomplished muscles, and have a little fun free from the normal restraints of wearability and mass appeal. They also invite a spirit of collaboration, something seen most clearly here in Vacheron Constantin’s partnership with fashion designer Yiqing Yin.

In concept watch ‘Égérie – The Pleats of Time’, haute couture, horology and perfumery unite for one-of-a-kind creation, unveiled at Watches and Wonders 2024. A fragrance created with master perfumer Dominique Ropion, featuring notes of lavender and orange blossom, tuberose and ylang-ylang, infuses the strap, released randomly as the strap rubs against the skin, in line with the movement of the wrist.

Here, they tell us how they united the worlds of haute horlogerie and haute couture.

Vacheron Constantin's fragranced concept watch, 'Égérie – The Pleats of Time’ 

watch with purple dial

(Image credit: Vacheron Constantin)

Wallpaper*: Can you tell us why Yiqing Yin felt like a natural partner for this collaboration?

Vacheron Constantin: The collaboration with Yiqing Yin was a very enriching experience that came about quite naturally – not only because the collection has been inspired by the world of Haute Couture since its creation in 2020, but also because Yiqing Yin has brilliantly personified it right from the outset. Yiqing Yin has strong links with artisanship, and she also has a contemporary and innovative approach to her metier, which is aligned with Vacheron Constantin’s values and identity. 

W*: Pairing the notion of time with the nostalgic sense of smell makes for an interesting juxtaposition. How does celebrating this sense with the watch build on Vacheron Constantin’s philosophy?

VC: Pairing the intricate world of Haute Horlogerie with the nuanced artistry of Haute Couture and the evocative realm of Haute Parfumerie is a testament to the profound connection between time, emotion, and craftsmanship. This collaboration speaks to the shared pursuit of innovation, preservation, and storytelling across these disciplines.

By joining forces with perfumer Dominique Ropion and myself, Vacheron Constantin embarks on a multidimensional exploration of time's essence. Through a blend of olfactory and sculptural dimensions, we craft a sensory experience that transcends the boundaries of traditional craftsmanship, inviting reflection on the interplay between memory, imagination, and the eternal passage of time.

W*: Can you tell us a bit about the design - the dial has been purposefully kept quite clean?

VC: The design ethos behind the dial was to capture the boundless essence of time by opting for a clean and uncluttered aesthetic. Rather than filling it with traditional measuring markers, elements like pleating, embroidery, and natural undulations were incorporated. These create a visual narrative that reflects the fluidity of the creative process, where the ephemeral converges with the eternal.

The simplicity of the dial allows for a focus on essentials, with the 'pleats' pattern serving as a recurring motif both on the watch and the accompanying dress. This motif not only adds visual interest but also symbolises freedom and expressiveness. It transforms the initially flat surface into a dynamic space that breathes and evolves, mirroring the emotional and sensory nuances of time itself.

W*: What were the main challenges with this project?

VC: The main challenge of this project lay in harmonising the worlds of haute couture and haute horlogerie, two domains with vastly different technical demands and processes. As a couturier, my expertise lies in intuitive expressivity, a fluid artistic process rooted in visual storytelling and flexible forms. However, entering the realm of watchmaking introduced me to unprecedented technical constraints, requiring a convergence of imperious rigor with my intuitive approach. My collaboration with Vacheron Constantin was a voyage through contrasting worlds. Together, we explored new frontiers, defied conventions, and crafted an emblem of our joint pursuit of excellence and innovation, a testament to the power of collaboration.

See our guide to the highlights of Watches and Wonders 2024

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.