Pocket per­fec­tion

Vacheron Con­stantin’s ex­quis­ite pocket watch boasts 57 com­pli­ca­tions

Hong Kong Tatler - - Style -

There are many paths to be­com­ing a watch col­lec­tor. Timid first steps, con­sist­ing of a watch here and there, usu­ally mark­ing a spe­cial oc­ca­sion or a key event in one’s life, can quickly grow into a near ob­ses­sion. For some, the ac­qui­si­tion process is just as im­por­tant as the pos­ses­sion of the time­piece, and it’s ren­dered par­tic­u­larly sweet when the watch hap­pens to be a highly cov­eted lim­ited edi­tion. Th­ese are of­ten branded as tro­phies, al­most sta­tus sym­bols, to show the col­lec­tor has achieved a high level of watch knowl­edge and has a strong enough net­work (and suf­fi­cient funds) to be al­lowed ac­cess to rare watches. At some stage, though, even the most ar­dent and avid col­lec­tors can find them­selves look­ing for some­thing even more rare and sig­nif­i­cant: a be­spoke watch.

There is sig­nif­i­cant ap­peal in know­ing that the time­piece you are hold­ing was crafted just for you—to your spec­i­fi­ca­tions. There is noth­ing more rare and pre­cious to a watch afi­cionado. This goes be­yond hav­ing some sort of per­son­al­i­sa­tion, such as an en­grav­ing. Think about it—ask­ing a watch­maker to not only make you a unique time­piece, but also to in­clude com­pli­ca­tions that no one has ever made be­fore. The in­tel­lec­tual chal­lenge alone would whet the ap­petite of some of the world’s best watch­mak­ers, but the path be­tween a tech­ni­cal con­cept and the fin­ished prod­uct can be very long and tor­tu­ous.

Such projects have oc­ca­sion­ally been un­der­taken and have pro­duced leg­endary time­pieces. How­ever, th­ese were gen­er­ally cre­ated decades ago, when watch­mak­ers and brands were still very much ar­ti­sanal, and watch pro­duc­tion was counted in the hun­dreds or a few thou­sands per year, not the tens of thou­sands that many brands are now ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing. But there is a man­u­fac­ture to­day, one that has grown from strength to strength over more than two

cen­turies, which has not only the abil­ity, but also the strength of will to de­vote the resources nec­es­sary to pro­duce be­spoke watches—vacheron Con­stantin.

The depth of the brand’s abil­ity is sec­ond to none, for it’s one of the very few man­u­fac­tures with an un­in­ter­rupted his­tory, now reach­ing a stag­ger­ing 260 years. Vacheron Con­stantin has ac­quired a sig­nif­i­cant knowl­edge base dur­ing that span, and there are few com­pli­ca­tions it has not ably tack­led and de­liv­ered. Such is its abil­ity that it has an en­tire depart­ment ded­i­cated to mak­ing cus­tom pieces: the Ate­liers Cabinotiers. It’s here that po­ten­tial be­spoke time­pieces are con­ceived and eval­u­ated, not only for their tech­ni­cal fea­si­bil­ity, but to en­sure they meet the aes­thetic and tech­ni­cal stan­dards Vacheron Con­stantin im­poses on all its watches.

In what could per­haps be its proud­est mo­ment, Vacheron Con­stantin has un­veiled a time­piece it de­scribes as its “most com­pli­cated ever.” That’s a de­scrip­tion you may have come across be­fore, but when it comes from a man­u­fac­ture with such a long his­tory, it is not to be taken lightly. De­spite

REF­ER­ENCE 57260 IS NOT ONLY A COM­BI­NA­TION OF NU­MER­OUS COM­PLI­CA­TIONS BUT ALSO OF SOME PRE­VI­OUSLY UN­HEARD OF ONES, SUCH AS THE HE­BRAIC PER­PET­UAL CAL­EN­DAR

THE REF­ER­ENCE 57260 RE­CENTLY TOURED THE WORLD, IN­CLUD­ING A FLEET­ING AP­PEAR­ANCE IN HONG KONG AS PART OF VACHERON CON­STANTIN’S 260TH AN­NIVER­SARY CEL­E­BRA­TIONS

the ex­cite­ment and pride with which the mai­son’s watch­mak­ers talk about the new time­piece, it goes by a mod­est name—its ref­er­ence num­ber, 57260.

In all like­li­hood, that num­ber will en­ter watch­mak­ing leg­end, as the time­piece truly does achieve new tech­ni­cal heights in me­chan­i­cal watch­mak­ing. With no less than 57 com­pli­ca­tions, the Ref­er­ence 57260 is not only a com­bi­na­tion of nu­mer­ous clas­si­cal func­tions, but also some com­pli­ca­tions pre­vi­ously un­heard of in a me­chan­i­cal time­piece, such as the He­braic per­pet­ual cal­en­dar, and the split sec­ond chrono­graph with ret­ro­grade op­pos­ing hands. A num­ber of chim­ing com­pli­ca­tions have also been in­cor­po­rated; there is a grande and petite son­nerie, a minute re­peater, and an alarm. A unique twist is the ad­di­tion of a “quiet” mode, or a spe­cific pe­riod of time dur­ing which the chim­ing func­tions are au­to­mat­i­cally si­lenced. A full ex­plo­ration of the tech­ni­cal depth of the Ref­er­ence 57260 would re­quire a great num­ber of pages; suf­fice it to say, it has grabbed the at­ten­tion of watch con­nois­seurs the world over, most of whom will, un­for­tu­nately, never have an op­por­tu­nity to lay eyes on the time­piece.

As you may imag­ine, a piece of this com­plex­ity re­quired a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time to de­velop and con­struct. For Vacheron Con­stantin, it’s the cul­mi­na­tion of eight years of work, dur­ing which three master watch­mak­ers worked full-time not only ad­dress­ing the com­plex task of com­bin­ing so many func­tions, but also cre­at­ing a num­ber of new com­pli­ca­tions. The fact the man­u­fac­ture is ca­pa­ble of craft­ing such a time­piece—which, in­ci­den­tally, meets the mod­ern codes of the Geneva Seal—shows a tech­ni­cal and artis­tic depth rep­re­sen­ta­tive of its tremen­dous his­tory. The Ref­er­ence 57260 re­cently toured the world, in­clud­ing mak­ing a fleet­ing ap­pear­ance in Hong Kong last month at Watches & Won­ders, as part of Vacheron Con­stantin’s 260th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions.

The mag­nif­i­cent Vacheron Con­stantin time­piece will soon be in the hands of its owner, no doubt be­com­ing the pin­na­cle of an al­ready as­tound­ing col­lec­tion.

TIMED PER­FEC­TION Vacheron Con­stantin’s Ref­er­ence 57260 has 57 com­pli­ca­tions. All the func­tions are ac­ti­vated via dis­creet slid­ers on the case (be­low left)

GRAND REVELRY Clock­wise from above: A time­piece-in­spired dessert served at the Sky 100 an­niver­sary din­ner; the Vacheron Con­stantin man­age­ment team toasts the an­niver­sary; CEO Juan-car­los Tor­res with Man­darin Ori­en­tal chef Uwe Opocen­sky, who cre­ated the menu

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