In the wake of the Reference 57260 watch and its 57 complications presented in 2015, this one-of-a-kind timepiece highlights two of its emblematic functions: the bi-axial armillary tourbillon with spherical balance-spring and the instant retrograde display of the time indications.
This exceptional horological structure is housed in a titanium case, an ultra-light material that reveals the full depth of this model in a resolutely contemporary style. Four patents have been registered for the high-precision manual-winding 1990 calibre powering this watch.
The Reference 57260 watch, the most complicated timepiece in the world with its 57 complications, presented for the 260th anniversary of Vacheron Constantin in 2015, served as an authentic laboratory for the watchmakers of the Les Cabinotiers department. The research conducted throughout the eight years required to create and fine-tune this unique timepiece has enabled the development of original watchmaking techniques and solutions applicable to subsequent timepieces from the Manufacture.
The Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon watch is the first to have benefited from these findings. Exuding a perfectly contemporary spirit, it reinterprets two complications introduced with Reference 57260: the instant double retrograde time indication and the bi-axial armillary tourbillon with spherical balance spring.
The 1990 calibre, a mechanical manual-winding movement, drives the instant double retrograde hours and minutes function. On the right side of the watch, the large and small hands sweep over the semi-circle of the dial, with a strikingly fast return to zero once the 60 minutes and 12 hours have been reached. Such a display requires particular attention to its accuracy as well as to the strength of the materials used for a mechanism that is subjected to considerable strain.
To provide the best possible view of its subtle details, the slate opaline dial is limited to a single chapter ring punctuated by Arabic numerals for the minutes and Roman numerals for the hours. This particular configuration of the time indications gives full scope to the armillary tourbillon bearing the small seconds, majestically displayed on the left side of the watch.
Positioned beneath a bubble formed by the sapphire crystal, this structure consists of two nested carriages moving on two different axes at a speed of 60 seconds per rotation. Forming a sphere in perpetual motion, this tourbillon was named “armillary” in reference to the French watchmaker Antide Janvier, who in the 18th century created a spectacular astronomical clock bearing an armillary sphere.
Other features of this exceptional mechanism include its silicon escapement and cylindrical balance-spring. Invented by Jacques-Frédéric Houriet in 1814, the cylindrical balance-spring, which has no terminal curve, gives the tourbillon a perfectly concentric beat, thereby guaranteeing improved isochronism.
As for the escapement developed by Vacheron Constantin, it has a silicon wheel and lever with diamond pallets. These ultra-light high-tech materials, which guarantee durability and longevity, contribute to the remarkable precision of this timepiece, whose performance considerably exceeds the requirements of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). Four patents have been filed for the retrograde system, escapement and tourbillon of this 1990 calibre.
These references to the great master watchmakers of the past are nonetheless expressed through perfectly contemporary watchmaking architecture in this Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon featuring extremely meticulous finishes. Te 1990 calibre draws the gaze with its deep anthracite colour obtained by NAC (N-acetylcysteine) treatment applied by electrolysis.
On the dial side, the calibre features a bold construction with clean-edged bridges and a “Clous de Paris” hobnail finish that perfectly highlights the aerial ballet of the tourbillon. The same finish appears on the sandblasted caseback.
The hand bevelling of the components – a subtle operation requiring no less than 130 hours of work on this movement to enhance the play of light across the components – is displayed to its best advantage by the titanium case. This lightweight material that is twice as resistant as steel gives a sleek touch to this watch paired with a black alligator leather strap secured by pin buckle.
Model: Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon
Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin
35.50 mm diameter, 10 mm thick
Movement power reserve: approximately 65 hours
2.5 Hz (18’000 vibrations/hour)
Hallmark of Geneva certified timepiece
Retrograde hours and minutes
Grade 5 titanium
45 mm diameter, 20.10 mm thick
Transparent sapphire crystal caseback
Slate-grey opaline dial
Grey Mississippiensis alligator leather with alligator leather inner shell, hand-stitched, saddle-finish, large square scales
Titanium Grade 5 pin buckle
Satin-finished half Maltese cross-shaped
« Pièce unique » and « Les Cabinotiers » engraved on the back of the timepiece