The most complicated timepiece by the maison, yet
Things have never looked brighter for storied watchmaker Vacheron Constantin. Besides recently developing what is arguably the most dedicated Swiss mechanical watchmaking bespoke service in the world, Vacheron Constantin’s indefatigable watchmakers also laboured a good eight years on a project that would eventually trounce the grand complications of its competitors.
The Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 enthrones a record-setting grand total of 57 complications — some classics and some entirely new inventions — in an 18k white gold case. Complications like a double retrograde rattrapante (four chronographs whose hands flyback to zero upon command to calibrate another timing) and multiple calendars measuring Gregorian and Hebraic years, make its maiden appearance. Two glazed bezels embellish this 98mm-wide, 50.55mm-thick, two-sided pocket watch. Both rather planar faces of this timepiece opt for aesthetics reminiscent of old-world cartography and industrial era scientific instruments, only furnished by heat-blued and yellow gold hands and lunar displays.
Rather complex to read for the uninitiated, this stalwart innovation showcases the house’s limitless capabilities. While its Hebrew perpetual calendar logs the dates and important seasons of the Judaic year, a complex cavalcade of chiming functions allow the ‘Big Ben’-sounding Westminster minute repeater to either strike the hours and the quarters at every quarter (Grand sonnerie mode) or strike full hours at the hour and only quarter strikes with no hour strikes at each quarter (Petite sonnerie mode). The gongs can also be silenced from 2200hrs to 0800hrs, or all together.
Wonders never cease, as a blue star chart indicating constellations visible from the owner’s location accompany a retrograde perpetual calendar, whose month pointer flies back on the first of the month. The year number is displayed for leap year indication purposes, and the date display can be switched to the numerical ISO8601 format. While a 12-hour second time-zone ticks alongside a precise perpetual calendar that displays the Equation of Time — the discrepancy between true solar time and standard meantime — two dual sectors indicate the day and night lengths, as well as the times of sunset and sunrise. A comprehensive array of nine astronomic functions include displays of the zodiac sign periods, Vernal Equinox, Autumnal Equinox and summer and winter solstices. Moonphase indication is of course, a given.
The one-off Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260’s selling price has been purportedly negotiated for around eight figures. Four calibre plates operating the rattrapante chronograph, Gregorian perpetual calendar, second rattrapante chronograph and astronomic calendar in parallel, wield star-shaped gears that have become the modus operandum of Vacheron Constantin, while its tourbillon, decorated by the brand’s vaunted Maltese Cross and designed in tribute to armillary spheres in old, is a metaphor for the perpetuation of 250-year-old dynasty’s unwavering foresight and ambition.