Vacheron Constantin presents a single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers timepiece featuring a regulator-type display and perpetual calendar with precision moon phases, powered by in-house Calibre 2460 RQP. Set with precious stones on the bezel and the delicately guilloché dial, this model combines a technical display mode with an elegant reading of time. This new model, presented at Watches & Wonders 2021, is part of the theme of the Maison for 2021 : entitled Classic with a Twist, it highlights Vacheron Constantin’s creative energy, guided by an identity that celebrates a heritage and dares to deliver the unexpected.
Watches with a regulator-type display are reminiscent of the precision clocks developed for astronomers more than 200 years ago. This concept has been picked up in the creation of this single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers regulator perpetual calendar – Moonlight Jewellery Sapphire timepiece, whose astronomical references are accentuated by a perpetual calendar function with precision moon phases. These Haute Horlogerie complications are highlighted by the artisans of the Manufacture. To lend depth to the delicately hand-engraved guilloché dial, sparkling diamond and sapphire edging echoes the diamond-set bezel, in an alternation elegantly accentuating the various timekeeping and astronomical displays.
The single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers regulator perpetual calendar – Moonlight Jewellery Sapphire watch is immediately set apart by its regulator-type display. Powered by self-winding Calibre 2460 RQP, this timepiece offers a separate reading of the minutes with a central hand and the hours on a dial positioned at 12 o’clock.
This way of indicating time by non-coaxial markers dates back to the late 17th century. Through their observations of the sky and the path of heavenly bodies, astronomers soon realised the necessity of reliable and regular time measuring instruments. To meet this need, horologists developed regulating clocks, also known as master clocks, because they were used as reference timekeepers. The extreme precision of these clocks stemmed from bimetallic pendulums used to compensate for the effect of temperature variations. In addition, by offering a display of the hours and seconds on separate counters along with a central minutes hand, they enabled clear and accurate readings of the timekeeping indications.
This mechanical invention was not forgotten with the advent of pocket watches, followed by wristwatches, and was especially favoured for the originality and extreme legibility of its display. The Les Cabinotiers regulator perpetual calendar – Moonlight Jewellery Sapphire watch echoes this layout, further enhanced by a perpetual calendar with precision moon phases as a tribute to the astronomical origins of regulators. In place of the small seconds hand, the 6 o’clock counter thus serves to indicate the date and the moon phases.
Through countless ages, the moon served to mark the path of time, notably for the passage of months and the calculation of weeks. Based on these first astronomical observations, watchmakers soon realised the advantage of adding a moon-phase display to the dial of their timepieces. While poetically evoking planetary laws, they also testify to consummate technical mastery in their horological representation, through their integration within the global perspective of a perpetual calendar.
The mechanical difficulty inherent in moon phases is the duration of a lunar cycle – i.e. 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 2.8 seconds (29.5305881 days) – which must be regulated by movements based on a sexagesimal system. To achieve this, the most common solution consists of rounding off lunar cycles to 29.5 days, enabling the moon phases to be activated via a 59-tooth gear with two lunar cycles – a solution which results in an approximately one-day discrepancy every 32 months. More complex yet more accurate, the system based on a 135-tooth gear yields what is known as a precision astronomical moon phase display, whose drift amounts to only one day every 122 years and 46 days. It is precisely this device that has been integrated into the perpetual calendar of Calibre 2460 RQP with its 40-hour power reserve. Successfully keeping step with the vagaries of the Gregorian calendar and requiring no adjustment until 2100, this perpetual calendar is distinguished on this timepiece by the indication of the days and months through apertures on either side of the hours dial, which itself bears the leap-year indication at 4 o’clock. The date is displayed by a pointer and the moon phases appear on the subdial at 6 o’clock.
Perfectly illustrating the creative spirit of Vacheron Constantin, this single-piece edition has been preciously embellished by the gifted artist’s hands of artisans. On the dial swept over by white gold hands, the guilloché artist has created a delicate spiral pattern, enhanced by a row of 44 baguette-cut diamonds rimming the bezel. The silver-toned dial is also set with an edging of precious stones facing the minute track, a border composed of 36 baguette-cut diamonds, alternating with 10 sapphires positioned every five minutes. The spark of the sapphires is further accentuated by the two hours and moon-phase subdials, which adopt the same dark blue hue.
The noble distinction of this timepiece with its 42 mm 18K white gold case is perceptible even in the meticulous hand finishing adorning the movement. The watch’s sapphire caseback reveals the delicate circular graining of the mainplate with bridges featuring the Côtes de Genève motif, as well as the subtle guilloché pattern on the 18K 5N gold oscillating weight. The Les Cabinotiers regulator perpetual calendar – Moonlight Jewellery Sapphire watch is fitted with a dark blue alligator leather strap, secured by an 18K gold pin buckle whose outline is inspired by the shape of a Maltese cross adorned with 12 baguette-cut diamonds.
Each year, the Les Cabinotiers department unveils a range of single-piece editions relating to a theme cherished by Vacheron Constantin. The year 2021 is dedicated to “Le Temps Céleste” (which means Celestial Time), with timepieces referring to the astronomical origins of time measurement.
From the dawn of civilisations, the cycle of days and seasons, the evolution of constellations in the night sky, the phases of the moon and eclipses have exerted an almost mystical fascination. Eager to unravel the mysteries of the universe, the first human beings found in mythological tales a cosmogony blending legends with poetry. At a very early stage, the first scientific minds attempted to decipher the rhythms of Nature and to organise them according to predictable patterns.
It was from these calculations, and with the appearance of writing, that the first calendars were born, before the Babylonian sexagesimal system gave meaning to the physical division of time into units of angle. Traditional watchmaking is a direct heir to this rigorous and scientific approach, expressed today on watches with depictions of the calendar, the sky chart, moon phases, tides and seasons, and even civil, solar and sidereal time with their differentials. Vacheron Constantin has nevertheless sought to endow these genuine observation instruments with all the charm of the founding myths through the subtlety of its craftsmanship, through its work in guilloché engraving and the engraving of symbolic motifs, or in the “stellar” glittering of gemset stones. This new Les Cabinotiers range is the expression of exceptional expertise in astronomical watches, dedicated to the poetry of time.
Astronomical watches enjoy a rich and longstanding tradition within the Maison. The Vacheron Constantin archives reveal a first perpetual calendar in 1884, integrated into a double-sided yellow gold pocket watch, now part of the Maison’s private collection. This was the beginning of a mechanical “epic” that would singularly take shape at the turn of the century. In 1900, the Maison set up a workshop exclusively dedicated to the assembly of watches with complications, often incorporating astronomical functions. Orders flooded in for complicated and even very complicated watches. The perpetual calendar was then combined with other technical feats such as those enriching a 1905 pocket watch comprising a minute repeater, split-seconds chronograph and perpetual calendar with phases and age of the moon.
Delivered in 1929, the pocket watch made for King Fouad I of Egypt with chronograph, perpetual calendar, Grande and Petite Sonnerie and minute repeater functions is characteristic of this golden age. This exceptional watchmaking expertise, later applied to wristwatches, would be powerfully expressed in the Tour de l’Île with its 16 horological and astronomical complications, produced in 2005 to mark the 250th anniversary of the Maison. It features a sky chart, a complication that has become a speciality of Vacheron Constantin. Reference 57260, which has 57 complications, also features a sky chart, notably accompanied by sidereal time and a secular Hebrew calendar. In 2017, Vacheron Constantin once again innovated with Calibre 3600, powering displays of civil, solar and sidereal time, the latter synchronised with a mobile representation of constellations.
In the Vacheron Constantin universe, Les Cabinotiers represents a department in its own right dedicated to the personalisation of Grand Complication models and single-piece editions. This tradition dates back to the 18th century, an age when master-watchmakers were called cabinotiers and worked in ateliers bathed in natural light, known as cabinets and located on the top floors of Geneva’s buildings. In the hands of these learned artisans, open to the new ideas of the Enlightenment, exceptional timepieces were born, inspired by astronomy, mechanical engineering and the arts. This expertise, which constitutes the great Geneva watchmaking tradition, has been flowing through Vacheron Constantin’s veins since 1755.
Vacheron Constantin’s creativity has always remained closely attuned to its time while evoking its memories. This byword for elegance, adopted by each watchmaker, artisan and designer throughout the years and centuries, celebrates heritage and dares to explore the unexpected. Poised at the intersection between technical virtuosity and aesthetic refinement, the enduring allure of Vacheron Constantin timepieces makes its way unscathed through passing eras. Because timelessness cannot be achieved merely by complying with the canons of traditional watchmaking, each creation is tinged with a touch of boldness revealed in the smallest details. Special displays, offset indications, specific chamfering of all components, hand-crafted finishing and the complexity of a mechanism are just a few examples of this expertise. The result is a very personal field of expression where technique and style converge in a subtle harmony between the conventional and the atypical.
The single-piece edition Les Cabinotiers regulator perpetual calendar – Moonlight Jewellery Sapphire watch is distinguished by its regulator-type display. As early as the late 17th century, regulator clocks were used as reference timepieces in watchmaking workshops because of their precision and the legibility of their display, which is dissociated from the minutes by a central hand and the hours on a dial positioned at 12 o’clock. Powered by self-winding Calibre 2460 RQP automatic calibre, this watch is also equipped with a perpetual calendar. A complication which follows the vagaries of the Gregorian calendar without any need for correction before 2100 and is characterised on this model by the indication of the days and months in apertures on either side of the hours dial and the leap-year indication at 4 o’clock. The date is indicated by a pointer at 6 o’clock on a counter whose centre is devoted to the precision moon-phase display. A jewellery watch crafted by the expert hands of craftsmen, this piece is finely set on the bezel and the delicately guilloché dial.