Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Tribute to great civilisations – Lion de Darius
- Self Winding/Automatic
- Poinçon de Genève (Hallmark of Geneva)
- Swiss Made
- Pink Gold
- 3.00atm / 30.00m / 100.00ft
- Pin Buckle
- Pink Gold
- Mississippiensis Alligator
The frieze of lions is one of the few decorative elements of the Palace of Darius in Susa that was found on-site, in the first courtyard that welcomed visitors. This animal decoration was an important part of the iconography of Persian palaces, but also, before them, of Assyrian and Babylonian palaces. The lion symbol – representing both a royal animal and a divine attribute – were frequently found in these pleasure gardens and hunting reserves intended for the Persian monarchs and for the Assyrian sovereigns before them.
The prominent frieze of lions was thus a declaration of royal power, embodied by the king of animals. Made of siliceous glazed bricks that are bound with lime mortar, this decoration mingling realism and powerful stylisation is exemplary of masterpieces of Achaemenid Persian art. For the engraver of the applique depicting one of the lions, the challenge was to achieve an accurate rendering that matched the advanced stylisation of the muscles and fur of the noble creature’s mane that can be seen on the original.
As the lions are part of a frieze, the watch face in the background had to represent this decoration of glazed bricks affixed to a wall. To achieve this, the artisans opted for stone marquetry; and to accentuate the realistic look, they chose stone fragments with veins, which are by definition more fragile than those without. Given the large amount of waste in the cutting of the stones, three successive orders had to be made to finally obtain the 69 components of this marquetry, different in appearance and size. Compared to the model, the much brighter colour of the stones reproduces the appearance of the frieze as it was originally intended to be, before the shades faded. Given these colour constraints, combined with the technical difficulties of the mosaic, the relatively limited choice of stones was turquoise and yellow mochaite jasper. The frieze surrounding the dial was inspired by the decoration of another well- known work from the Palace of Darius: the Frieze of Archers. This ornamentation, consisting of a juxtaposition of triangles, is made of engraved metal and champlevé enamel with «ageing» inclusions. The writing elements engraved by metallisation on the sapphire crystal are taken from a tablet inscribed in Old Persian. This text in cuneiform script is one of the first written by Darius upon his arrival in power. It is a foundation charter for his palace. This Métiers d’Art Tribute to great civilisations – Lion de Darius watch revives its full splendour.