Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Only Watch 2005

This historical timepiece by Vacheron Constantin, was actually unveiled in 2005 as a part of “The Only Watch project, aimed at supporting the fight against muscular dystrophy. The auction held by Antiquorum in Monaco offered bidders an array of 34 exceptional creations.

The results of the auction held on September 22nd 2005 within the setting of the prestigious Monaco Yacht Show confirmed the attractiveness for collectors of creations by Vacheron Constantin, since the Tourbillon Only Watch in steel created specifically for the occasion went under the hammer at 120,000 Euros. Proceeds from the auction, which reached a total of 1,907 million euros, were donated entirely to the Monaco Association against Muscular Dystrophy. The operation was conducted under the patronage of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco.

The watch created by Vacheron Constantin for the Only Watch project associates one of the supreme complications of technical Haute Horlogerie, the tourbillon regulator, with a steel case. This is an exceptional occurrence for Vacheron Constantin, which throughout its existence has mainly focused on watches clad in precious metals, meaning gold and platinum. Technical Haute Horlogerie products manufactured in steel, which are extremely rare in the history of Vacheron Constantin production, are thus highly prized by collectors.

The bidders drawn this auction were clearly keenly aware of this fact, since the one-of-a-kind creation donated by Vacheron Constantin fetched the exceptional price of 120,000 euros, corresponding to the price of the platinum Tourbillon model in its openworked version.

This Tourbillon is all the more exclusive in that the movement is “tonneau” shaped, thus perfectly following the outlines of the case and creating an elegant and harmonious overall effect. The tone of the steel makes a delightful contrast with the 18-carat pink gold dial with its “sandblasted” finish. In an ultimate touch of refinement, the finishing of the movement is coated in ruthenium, a rare metal characterised by its hardness and its charcoal grey colour. 18K white gold hands sweep over this distinctive watch face, while the words “Pièce Unique” are engraved on the caseback.

This exclusive creation is entirely in keeping with the tradition cultivated by Vacheron Constantin, based on a totally harmonious blend of various forms of Haute Horlogerie know-how and the delicate range of decorative arts to which Vacheron Constantin has been dedicated since its founding.

In a classic watch movement, the escapement and balance are permanently fixed to the mainplate. 1801 witnessed the appearance of an astute invention, the tourbillon regulator. It aimed to eliminate by reciprocal compensation the adverse effects of gravity on the most sensitive parts of the movement, namely the escapement and the balance and spring assembly.

On a movement equipped with a tourbillon regulator, these mechanisms are fitted inside a carriage that performs a complete rotation, generally within exactly sixty seconds. If the watch is in a horizontal position, such as placed flat on a table, its rating is barely influenced by the effects of gravity. Such is not the case when it remains in a vertical position for a certain length of time, since gravity imperceptibly acts on the movement of the balance, which in due course will be detrimental to precision. By spinning on its own axis, the tourbillon will alternately shift the centre of gravity of the balance through all possible vertical positions, which means that the various errors due to gravity cancel each other out. Extremely complex to make, this device is still reserved for exceptional timepieces.

The true secret of a tourbillon crafted by a master’s hand lies in its carriage, which must be conceived and endowed with features ensuring the anticipated performances. The polished steel carriage of the Malte Tourbillon carries the brand’s emblematic “Maltese Cross” symbol.

Even today, developing a tourbillon movement remains a daunting technical challenge. Vacheron Constantin Calibre 1790 is entirely designed and produced within the company workshops in the Vallée de Joux. In addition to its tourbillon regulator, it also features a power-reserve indication and a pointer-type date display.

The steel case of the Malte Tourbillon Only Watch is fitted with a padded hand-sewn saddle-stitched chestnut brown alligator mississipiensis leather strap, complete with a steel folding clasp.

Technical details

  • Case: Stainless steel, three-piece, secured with screws and inset with a transparent sapphire crystal
  • Movement: Calibre VC 1790, mechanical hand-wound, tourbillon and lever escapement; ruthenium-finished bridges
  • Indications: Hours, minutes, seconds, pointer-type 31-day date display, power-reserve indicator
  • Movement thickness:6.1 mm
  • Movement dimensions:27.37 mm x 29.30 mm
  • Jewelling: 27
  • Power reserve: 55 hours
  • Frequency: 18,000 vph
  • Water resistance to 30 metres
  • Dial: Pink gold, “sandblasted” finish; white gold “glaive” hands
  • Strap: Padded hand-sewn alligator mississipiensis leather
  • Clasp: Steel folding clasp

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