MIL­LION DOL­LAR BA­BIES

Priced up­wards of a mil­lion and nary a di­a­mond in sight? Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle lists 10 time­pieces that are prized for their com­pli­cated mech­a­nisms

Adore Gems & Timepieces - - CONTENTS -

Ten covetable time­pieces that are prized for their com­pli­cated mech­a­nisms

VACHERON CON­STANTIN

Ate­lier Cabinotiers Ref 57260 (2015)

The world’s most com­pli­cated pocket watch

Price: Undis­closed, but Forbes es­ti­mates its value at US$8 mil­lion

To cel­e­brate 260 years of un­in­ter­rupted his­tory, Vacheron Con­stantin has just re­leased a pocket watch so com­pli­cated it’s sim­ply unimag­in­able. As a re­sult, it sets a new record for “the most com­pli­cated watch ever made” — a ti­tle that does not change hands very of­ten and is un­likely to be beaten any­time soon. A unique piece com­mis­sioned by an anony­mous Amer­i­can cus­tomer, the Hall­mark of Geneva-cer­ti­fied time­piece co­de­named “Tivoli” was en­tirely de­vel­oped and crafted by three in-house watch­mak­ers ex­clu­sively ded­i­cated to this project for eight years. In the in­dus­try, only a hand­ful of brands have the means to build such a watch that comes equipped with a whop­ping 57 com­pli­ca­tions (in­clud­ing some that have never been seen be­fore) and with 10 new patents. The mas­sive white gold case — mea­sur­ing 98mm in di­am­e­ter and 50.55mm thick, and weigh­ing 960g — houses the man­ual-wind­ing Cal­i­bre 3750. Mak­ing full use of both sides of the watch to dis­play the enor­mous amount of data, the designers were chal­lenged to achieve clar­ity and har­mony. Com­pli­ca­tions in­clude reg­u­la­tor-style hours, min­utes and sec­onds, moon phases, the age of the moon, a dou­ble ret­ro­grade rat­tra­pante chrono­graph, an alarm, a minute re­peater, a grande son­nerie us­ing West­min­ster chimes, a pe­tite son­nerie, three per­pet­ual cal­en­dars (He­braic, Gre­go­rian and stan­dard), a sec­ond time zone with day/night in­di­ca­tor, a world time dis­play, a triple-axis tourbillon with spher­i­cal bal­ance spring, sun­rise and sun­set times, a star chart, an equa­tion of time and mark­ings for the sea­sons, equinoxes and zo­diac. The un­usual dou­ble ret­ro­grade rat­tra­pante chrono­graph is a first in watch­mak­ing, as the two chrono­graph hands do not start to­gether from the cen­tre, but in­stead travel across arcs lo­cated at both sides of the dial. This is also the first time three per­pet­ual cal­en­dars are be­ing in­cor­po­rated in a sin­gle watch; while the ad­di­tion of an au­to­matic “night-time si­lence” mode also al­lows the owner to stop the time­piece from chim­ing be­tween 10pm and 8am.

H. MOSER & CIE.

Ven­turer Tourbillon Dual Time Sap­phire Skele­ton (2015)

The first sap­phire crys­tal watch with 3D-printed strap

Price: CHF1 mil­lion

A two-year project de­vel­oped by a team of 22 peo­ple, the one-off Ven­turer Tourbillon Dual Time Sap­phire Skele­ton was bought by Parisian re­tailer Chronopas­sion on the first day of Baselworld this year. Its value may be ex­plained by the unique com­bi­na­tion of a few fac­tors: A self-wind­ing in-house man­u­fac­tured one-minute tourbillon move­ment in nickel sil­ver that also fea­tures a sec­ond time zone; an en­tirely dec­o­rated and skele­tonised move­ment; a three-part sap­phire crys­tal case that re­quired 588 hours to ma­chine and 92 hours to fin­ish; and a rub­ber strap crafted us­ing 3D print­ing — a world first in watch­mak­ing. The splen­dour of the three-day power re­serve HMC 803 cal­i­bre with red gold bidi­rec­tional ro­tor, which took 15 months to de­velop, is also vis­i­ble through the trans­par­ent sap­phire case, front and back. As a nod to her­itage watch­mak­ing, nickel sil­ver — the pre­ferred ma­te­rial for cal­i­bres be­fore the in­dus­try turned to solid brass — was cho­sen for the move­ment, even though it was more chal­leng­ing to work with.

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