Today marks the official kick-off of the new horological year, with the opening of the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), in Geneva. Watch connoisseurs around the world are avidly awaiting the unveiling of the first batch of timepieces, which will be showcased throughout the week. To start us off, the venerable Vacheron Constantin is officially presenting the Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, yet another example of the manufacture’s deep technical ability mastered over more than two and a half centuries of continuous experience.
The Celestia Astronomical is, in fact, the product of five years of work by a master watchmaker, and is a commissioned watch, developed by Vacheron Constantin in consultation with one of its collectors. It’s perhaps the pinnacle of any watch collector, to have a unique piece that embodies all the functions that he or she might wish for. In this watch, there are no less than 23 of them, all of which have an eye turned towards the stars as they focus exclusively on astronomical measurements, many of which will not even be known to those outside the specialised field. You can see the full list of indications below.
What’s even more impressive is that Vacheron Constantin’s master watchmaker has managed to develop the Calibre 3600 movement from scratch, and that it is entirely integrated; that is, this is not a combination of a base calibre and additional modules that were grafted on to provide the required functionality, but a watch and movement that were built from the ground up to meet the client’s requirements in a compact and unique timepiece. You might say that a 45mm case that’s 13.6mm thick isn’t all that compact, but it is stunning to think that it not only encompasses the 23 time keeping functions, it also has a three-week power reserve, two dials and a tourbillon visible from the back, not to mention that it ascribes to the requirements of the Geneva Seal.
Unfortunately, as the Celestia Astronomical is a bespoke piece, it is already spoken for. However, I have no doubt that Vacheron Constantin and its fellow SIHH exhibitors have much, much more in store for us to discover over the next few days.
Reference: 9720C/000G-B281, Hallmark of Geneva certified timepiece
Calibre: 3600 | Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin | Mechanical, manual-winding | 36 mm (15 ¾’’’) diameter, 8.7 mm thick | Approximately 3 weeks of power reserve | 2.5Hz (18,000 vibrations/hour) | 514 components | 64 jewels
Indications: Hours, minutes, perpetual calendar, day/night indication, precision moon phase, age of the moon, running equation of time, sunrise and sunset time, day and night length, seasons, solstices, equinoxes and zodiacal signs, tide level indicator, Sun-Earth-Moon conjunction, opposition and quadrature, transparent sky chart of the northern hemisphere with indication of the Milky Way, of the ecliptic and celestial equator, hours and minutes of sidereal time, tourbillon, 3 weeks of power reserve (6 barrels), power reserve indication
Case: 18K white gold | 45 mm diameter, 13.6 mm thick | Transparent sapphire crystal caseback | Water resistance tested at a pressure of 3 bar (approx. 30 metres)
Dial: Slate-colored opaline | 18K gold applied hour-markers | 18K gold hands
Strap: Black Mississippiensis alligator leather with alligator inner shell, hand-stitched, saddle-finish, large square scales
Clasp: 18K 5N white gold pin buckle | Polished half Maltese cross-shaped
Accessories: Delivered with a corrector pen and a magnifying glass
This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com