HIGH WATCHMAKING: THE TOURBILLON IN THE SERVICE OF PRECISION

Hm Uhren

Invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet at the beginning of the 19th century, the tourbillon’s primary function is to counteract the effects of gravity on watch mechanisms. This device is a symbol of technical mastery and craftsmanship. The first known traces of its commercialization found in Vacheron Constantin’s archives date back to 1901. Since then, this complication has become part of the Maison’s watchmaking heritage, integrated into pocket watches, then wristwatches from the early 1990s, as well as into exceptional pieces intended for connoisseurs and collectors.

The first mention of a tourbillon pocket watch in the Vacheron Constantin archives dates back to 1901. A letter addressed to the Maison relates to an order placed by a Parisian client for a timepiece with a tourbillon escapement, double chronograph, Grande and Petite Sonnerie, minute repeater, perpetual calendar with moon phases and power reserve. In other words, an exceptional timepiece that must also be submitted to the Geneva Observatory in order to obtain its chronometry (precision timekeeping certificate).

Yellow gold one-minute tourbillon pocket watch – 1943 (Ref. Inv. 10811): The quest for chronometric precision resulted in pocket watch models equipped with a tourbillon. These models often took part in chronometry competitions organised by various astronomical observatories, winning numerous distinctions.

                Yellow gold one-minute tourbillon pocket watch – 1945 (Ref. Inv. 11968): With its 22’’’ movement, this yellow gold one-minute tourbillon pocket watch with small seconds is strikingly elegant. The silver-toned dial, punctuated by enamelled Roman numerals and a railway-type minute track, is swept over by slender opentipped hands. This observatory watch was designed as a precision chronometer.

                White gold “Les Complications” tourbillon pocket watch – 1990 (Ref. Inv. 11927): This pocket watch, produced in a limited edition, was commissioned by Asprey London, which has its headquarters in New Bond Street. To satisfy collectors nostalgic for precision chronometers in the early 1990s, Vacheron Constantin created this white gold model with a guilloché dial 

                Platinum tourbillon wristwatch with power-reserve display, model 30050 – 1993 (Ref. Inv. 11984): This timepiece is part of the first series of tourbillon wristwatches made by Vacheron Constantin. Produced in a limited edition of 300 in yellow gold and platinum, it is equipped with a calibre featuring two barrels, visible through the sapphire caseback.

                Pink gold Malte collection tonneau wristwatch with tourbillon, date and power-reserve display – 2003 (Ref. Inv. 11498): This pink gold tonneau-shaped model from the Malte collection radiates beautiful visual balance with its sunburst guilloché outer dial and silver-toned grained dial centre graced with nine applied hour-markers.

                Platinum “Saint-Gervais” tourbillon wristwatch with perpetual calendar and power-reserve display – 2005 (Ref. Inv. 11475): While the celebration of its quarter-millennium was an opportunity for Vacheron Constantin to pay tribute to its past, it also served to highlight its capacity for technical innovation, as perfectly embodied in the Saint-Gervais model.

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