Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin likes to show off its technical skills and does so again with Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix – a mechanical Grand Complication wristwatch that boasts 15 functions. Sealed inside a solid 18K gold case, the one-off model is a showpiece of miniaturization and craftsmanship.
One of the refreshing aspects of haute chronologie is that, as compared to most modern art, it is often practiced as a way of both preserving traditional watchmaking skills and pushing the technological envelope. According to Vacheron Constantin, the company produced the Phoenix as part of its policy of carrying on the tradition of the "Cabinotiers." That is, the highly skilled watchmakers who dwell in the workshops in the upper stories of buildings in Geneva, where they can work in natural light.
Another goal for the Phoenix is to show off how many complications or functions can be crammed into one watch, called a Grand Complication. Due to the limited space and the need to reduce the size of each component, this is a major challenge for even the greatest watchmaker.
Because Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix has 15 complications, it has dials on both the front and reverse for display on the slate-gray dials. In addition to the hours, minutes, and seconds, the watch also boasts a minute repeater; tourbillon; a perpetual calendar with the date, day of the week, month, and leap year; power reserve indicator; the equation of time; sunrise; sunset; a sky chart; Moon phases; sidereal time; the seasons and zodiac sign; and a striking mechanism torque indicator.
All of this is run by the 2775 caliber, which consists of 839 components, including 40 jewels. It has a 58-hour power reserve and operates at 2.5 Hz (18,000 vph), with a two-position winding crown, a pusher to correct the Moon phase, two more for the perpetual calendar, and one for the sky chart.
Everything is sealed inside the hand-engraved 47-mm 18K pink gold case in pounced ornament or bas-relief. Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix gets its name from the mythical phoenix, which builds itself a funeral pyre every 500 years, burns itself to ashes, and then rises again reborn. Not surprisingly, this makes it a symbol of immortality and the case decoration reflects this motif.
According to the company, this deep engraving took 300 hours to complete. To secure it, the case has a strap made of hand-stitched, saddle-finish, dark brown Mississippiensis alligator leather with large square scales and a matching gold clasp with a half-Maltese cross-shaped buckle.
Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix comes in a winder box made of Makassar ebony wood with a corrector pen and a magnifying glass. No price has been announced for this one-of-a-kind watch, which probably falls in the "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" category.
Source: Vacheron Constantin
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