Two things convinced Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller of the project's, its beauty and significance as he and the Vacheron Constantin team headed by Juan-Carlos Torres were able to share their common passion for beautiful objects and also the manufacture's philosophy.
Twelve masks were selected from the Barbier-Mueller collection for small-scale reproduction in gold. They repose at the centre of each timepiece in a collection that extends over two thousand years and also four continents.
As Vacheron Constantin understands perfectly well the value of time, the company respected patiently the time needed to create such exceptional pieces. They took plenty of time for questioning, reflection and invention so as to assure themselves that the spirit of this special tribute to ancient societies.
A complete set of the twelve timepieces reproducing the twelve masks - from the limited edition of 300 exceptional timepieces - is currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, an exhibition sponsored by Vacheron Constantin and called "A Legacy of Collecting: African and Oceanic Art from the Barbier-Mueller Museum, Geneva" in tribute to Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller.
According to these unique timepieces, each wristwatch is equipped with an automatic Calibre 2460G4 movement, manufactured by Poinçon de Genève, through which time can be read without any hands (by means of a set of wheels and gears, four discs indicate the hours, minutes, day and date in windows) leaving in the centre of the dial the masks as the central attraction remaining as sculptures, as silent guardians of ancestral secrets.
Michel Butor's was the one who gave voice to the masks through magnificent short poems in prose dedicated to each mask. The writer's lines rise as mysterious messages that can only be read when the light strikes it from a certain angle. This effect was achieved by vacuum metallization, a sophisticated technological process in which the gold letters are sprayed onto a sapphire crystal.
Island of Lombok, Sasak people
Hard wood, traces of white pigments
Height: 21.5 cm
Former collection of Mathias Komor
I dance the duration the wait
patience the resistance
to suffering and to evil
the slowness of the days and nights
resignation but vigilance
the hasty passage of the months
and the devouring of the months