Vacheron Constantin Maître Cabinotier Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon
A unique type of watch that takes up the two original complications of the Ref. 57260 superwatch. This timepiece bearing the Hallmark of Geneva was produced by the three master watchmakers who created Ref. 57260, and they incorporated two of the complicated features of the superwatch: the armillary tourbillon and the double retrograde indication. Four patent applications have been filed for this unique model.
Inspired by the Reference 57260
On September 17, 2015, Vacheron Constantin unveiled a watch with 57 complications — the most complicated watch ever made. This mechanical wonder, devised by three master watchmakers from the company’s Atelier Cabinotiers workshops, took eight years to develop and was presented to mark Vacheron Constantin’s 260th anniversary.
The one-off piece was made to a special commission, using the latest technology to preserve the traditional watchmaking principles certified by the Hallmark of Geneva. The research and skill mobilised to create the superwatch remained a source of inspiration as well as a development resource for its three watchmakers, who were at the same time working to highlight some of its complications separately.
The Maître Cabinotier retrograde armillary tourbillon model is the first born of this project. It’s a remake of two of the Ref. 57260’s complications, the double retrograde indications and the armillary tourbillon, in a contemporary guise.
The retrograde function governs the hours and minutes while the tourbillon revolves on two axes and has a spherical balance-spring. The movement coated with NAC (a special metal alloy) is also revealed through lateral windows in its case. This timepiece forms part of the select Maître Cabinotier collection, which showcases Vacheron Constantin’s horological achievements, customised work and overall excellence.
Double retrograde system
The manually wound calibre 1990 movement developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin features retrograde hours and minutes indications with instant flyback. The double indications are as technically fascinating as they are visually mesmerising. The hands flick back to zero at such a speed that the special attention is needed to ensure a precise indication and such lightweight and resistant materials as the titanium used in the hands. Armillary tourbillon The lighting reaction of the retrograde hands contrasts with the more stately pace of the armillary tourbillon with a spherical balance spring. The elegantly structured tourbillon operates as a sphere perpetually rotating on two axes under a sapphire crystal dome at 9 o’clock. It’s called an armillary tourbillon because it is based on an armillary sphere like the one incorporated in an astronomic clock made by the French clockmaker, Antide Janvier, in the 18th century. The tourbillon is a visual evocation of the rings and hoops of the ancient model of the celestial sphere. The spherical balance spring, which was first developed by Jacques-Frédéric Houriet in 1814, is particularly rare in today’s watches. The shape ensures the concentric development of the spring and consequently the isochronism of the balance wheel. The tourbillon carriage, made of lightweight aluminium alloy, incorporates Vacheron Constantin’s Maltese Cross emblem, which forms up every 15 seconds as the tourbillon rotates. This ongoing spectacle may be admired every 30 seconds through a sapphire crystal opening on the side of the case. High-precision movement
As fascinating as it is for its action and construction, the armillary tourbillon achieves remarkable timekeeping precision. It is fitted with a new type of escapement, developed and made by Vacheron Constantin that has the escape wheel and lever in silicon with diamond pallet stones for resistance to wear and long life. The escapement, made as lightweight as possible by the use of high-tech materials, contributes significantly to the performance of this watch, which greatly exceeds the requirements of the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC). This level of precision is all the more noteworthy considering the large amount of energy absorbed by the double retrograde indications.
Technical Specifications: Ref. 91990/000G-9882
The case, in 18kt white gold, measures 45.7mm x 20mm. All crystals are sapphire and it is water resistant to 30 meters.
Movement is the Swiss manual-wind Vacheron Constantin in-house caliber 1990 with 45 jewels, 18,000 vph and a power reserve of 65 hours. Functions are: instantaneous retrograde hours instantaneous retrograde minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock on tourbillon carriage, 2-axis armillary tourbillon. Hallmark of Geneva certified timepiece.
Dials: hours/minutes dial: silver-colored, sun satin-finished, 18kt white gold applied hour-markers, painted minute-track. Seconds dial: silver-colored, sun satin-finished, painted minute track. The hands are titanium.
It comes on a black, hand-stitched, saddle-finished, large square scales Mississippian alligator leather strap with alligator leather inner shell,. It has an 18kt white gold triple-blade folding clasp.