By Kristen Shirley
This story originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of Elite Traveler.
In 18th century Geneva, watchmakers were called cabinotiers and their achievements represented the pinnacle of watchmaking. Vacheron Constantin’s Atelier Cabinotiers continues that grand tradition of Swiss watchmaking with its bespoke division. Here, there are no catalogs, no reproductions and no limits. Each commission is based off of a conversation where it discerns exactly what each client is looking for, and then creates the perfect timepiece, one which will never be recreated and most are never discussed. Many are designed to a customer’s specific requests, including the most complicated watch ever made. Reference 57620 pictured here, contains 57 complications, including a Hebrew perpetual calendar, grande sonnerie minute repeater and double retrograde split-seconds chronograph.
Other timepieces test the watchmaker’s imagination and creativity, focusing on the métiers d’art that Vacheron Constantin has perfected for over 260 years, including some unusual to watchmaking. This year, for the first time, it created a fully-integrated movement without a special commission, Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600.
There are 23 mainly astronomical complications, and it’s the brainchild of one watchmaker—it took him five years to develop the caliber. It’s incredibly thin for such a complicated watch, clocking in at 8.77mm, and it has an astounding three weeks of power reserve. In addition to more traditional astronomical complications, there are rare ones that show sunrise and sunset, the running equation of time, the length of day and night, seasons, solstices, equinoxes, zodiac signs and even a tide-level indicator. It’s beautiful too, with details such as a transparent celestial chart of the Northern Hemisphere on the back and a subdial that shows the sun-moon-earth conjunction.