As far as foundational Swiss luxury watches go, Vacheron Constantin are one of the all-time greatest manufacturers. Their timepieces are incredible and beautiful. Extremely complex, each piece features an absurd level of finishing that rivals that of Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet. Vacheron Constantin have been known to dabble in the fine art of true high-end watchmaking, and the 57260 is the prime example of just how capable Vacheron is as a haute horlogerie manufacturer. Vacheron have released two fantastic unique pieces in anticipation of 2019’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie Genève. Each watch represents the very best of Vacheron Constantin, and each piece is well worthy of being called a grail.
First, we have the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart. To call this watch complex would be the understatement of the century. The Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart features a minute repeater, a tourbillon and a sky chart. All this in a manually wound mechanical calibre.
This is a gorgeous timepiece. The 18k white-gold case sits at a very top heavy 45mm in diameter and 15.1mm in thickness. I don’t think that this watch will be well suited under a shirt cuff, but given the colour delivery of the Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart, you may still be able to pull it off with a tuxedo. The bezel and lugs are fitted with 112 baguette-cut diamonds, equaling to about 5.80 carats.
The black guilloche dial is stunning, and really draws the focus to the exquisite tourbillon, featuring Vacheron’s iconic Maltese cross-shaped tourbillon cage. The applied hour markers are in white gold, as are the hands. The only let down for me are the sword-shaped hour and minute hands. They’re a bit lacklustre, and I feel as though their implementation was a rushed decision, or one overlooked altogether.
The sky chart on the caseback depicts the night sky above Geneva, the Milky Way, and the various constellations and stars that make up the natural beauty of space. This is haute horlogerie artistry in its finest form, and the Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart as well as its Caliber 2755 is a match made in heaven.
The second piece is the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix. This piece has a far more dramatic and ostentatious effect to it, with thanks to its incredibly detailed 18k pink-gold case. The 47mm wide, 19.10mm thick case features a beautiful hand-engraved depiction of a phoenix, which took the Vacheron Constantin artisans about 300-hours to complete.
Vacheron’s Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix is a true powerhouse, not only in the aesthetics department but, of course and quite obviously, in the movement department. The Caliber 2755 features an enormous amount of technical brilliance that even Ironman’s Tony Stark would be impressed with. The manually wound Calibre 2755 of the Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix features a minute repeater, a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar (that’s a full perpetual calendar, mind you) a power reserve (of about 58-hours, this is no slouch), an equation of time, a sunrise and sunset time, a sky chart, an indicator showing the age and phase of the moon, a sidereal hours and minutes indicator, a season and zodiac sign indicator, as well as a striking mechanism torque indicator. I think it’s safe to say that the Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix is one of hell of a complicated watch!
The articulation of a piece like the Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix and the Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Tourbillon Sky Chart is somewhat underwhelming for the reader. As hard as I try to accurately describe these watches with superlative adjectives and really big words, what I write absolutely does these unique pieces no justice whatsoever. If you ever have the opportunity to see these watches in the flesh, I urge you to do so. It’s one thing seeing these pictures on the internet, reading about them and watch videos of them, and it’s a whole other ball-game to actually touch, feel, hold, absorb and understand what these incredible machines provide, both in terms of intrinsic involvement and extrinsic engagement.