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
Ten covetable timepieces that are prized for their complicated mechanisms
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.