Barbier-Muller Masks Featured on Vacheron Constantin Watches

2009 ltd. edition watches with Barbier-Mueller masks
Created by Vacheron Constantin

Last week I posted images from Gabriel and Ann Barbier-Muller's penthouse filled with primitive art.

Bet you didn't know that some of the masks from their family's museum in Geneva have been reproduced on watches made by the great Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin. I didn't know until last week. The Barbiers are so low-key I don't think they told many people.

In June, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York unveiled the 2009 series of limited edition watches made by the venerated 250 year old Swiss watch maker. Gabriel and Ann attended the opening at MOMA along with their children.

Vacheron Constantin has produced a limited edition series featuring a total of 12 masks from the Barbier-Mueller collection each year since 2007. In all, only 75 of these special watches have been made. This is the last year they will be produced.

If you click on the Vacheron Constantin site, it will show you how they were made. The short version is that they borrowed masks for many months from the Barbier-Mueller museum, copied them painstakingly by hand and then had talented jewelers miniaturize them faithfully in precious materials.

Specially treated glass creates the impression that the masks are floating, and each sapphire crystal has a different tint to show off the color of the mask.

French writer Michel Butor, known for his experimental prose, wrote a poem for each watch, which has been engraved on the crystal in such a way that you can't see it unless the light hits it right, as in this photo.