The Louvre Museum Paris, Vacheron Constantin, and auction house Christie’s are coming together to offer a unique Les Cabinotiers wristwatch as part of an online “Bid for Louvre” sale to benefit the world-renowned museum. This is a unique opportunity to enjoy an experience poised at the intersection of art and craftsmanship, between Paris and Geneva. The online sale will be held between Dec 1 and 15th on the Christie’s website.

Representative dial: The Venus de Milo sculpture painted on enamel dial

The Geneva watchmaker has an existing partnership with the French museum. Vacheron’s Les Cabinotiers collection is named for the most experienced watchmakers of the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment’s “alchemists of time” who created extraordinary timepieces by special commission. Today, the Les Cabinotiers collection encompasses some of the maison’s most technically-proficient timepieces like the Grand Complication Phoenix or Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, the world’s most complicated wristwatch with 23 complications.

Here’s how it works for the winning bidder: During a private visit to the Louvre, guided by an expert, the bidder can choose an artwork that he or she fancies which will be then reproduced in enamel on the dial of the watch. According to the choice made and the client’s preference, the Master enameller will use the miniature enamel or grisaille enamel technique.

The delicate skill involved in miniature enamel – in its version known as the "Geneva technique" dating from the 18th century – is reserved for the most experienced artisans mastering both pigments and fire. One of the main challenges consists in composing a color palette compliant with the original shades of the work, while remaining keenly aware that the multiple firings in the kiln at over 800°C are liable to alter its colour and brilliance.

The 3 Graces marble sculpture (left) and Autumn oil painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Grisaille enamel is a craft that appeared in the 16th century and consists of superimposing touches of a rare white enamel – called Limoges white –on a layer of dark enamel coating the gold dial base. Each layer of enamel is then fired in a kiln, while scrupulously respecting pre-defined firing times to the nearest second.

The client can then travel to Geneva and meet the talented Les Cabinotiers team to further customize the timepiece. In addition to the dial, which will reproduce an artwork from the Louvre Museum, the client can also choose the case material – platinum or pink or white gold – and decided on the kind of engraving on the officer-type case-back. This is besides choosing the straps and so on. Caliber 2460 SC, a self-winding movement that indicates the hours, minutes and seconds via a central hand, will power the watch. The movement, with its top-notch finishing qualifies for the Poinçon de Genève Certificate. For more information, head to the Christie’s website.