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Vacheron Constantin - Reference 57260, Most Complicated Watch Ever Made

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Last June, Vacheron Constantin announced the unveiling of the most complicated pocket watch ever created on September 17th, 2015 (you can find our article here). That day, which coincides with the 260th anniversary of the brand, has arrived and we can finally present the new masterpiece.


Created by 3 master watchmakers of the Atelier Cabinotiers special orders team for a high demanding collector, the new Reference 57260 from Vacheron Constantin required eight years to be completed.

This double-dial horological masterwork features a total of 57 complications, some of them never seen before in a watch. The 57260 reference number is the combination of 57, the total number of complications, and 260, the years of uninterrupted activity that Vacheron Constantin is celebrating in 2015.

The white gold case has a diameter of 98 mm and a thickness of 50.55 mm. The total weight of the timepiece is 960 grams.


The large case houses the exceptional hand-wound Calibre 3750 comprising 2826 (!) components. Offering approximately 60 hours of power reserve, it beats at 18,000 vibrations per hour.



The first dial shows regulator-type hours, minutes and seconds for solar meantime, the detached retrograde rattrapante chronograph, the alarm, the repeater with grande et petite sonnerie, and the perpetual hebraic calendar.



The numerous indications are detailed in the picture below (as usual, you can click to enlarge it).


The Hebraic Perpetual Calendar, extremely challenging to be implemented, includes the indications of the Metonic cycle (also called Golden Number), the date of Yom Kippur as indicated in the Gregorian calendar each year, if the current year is a 12 or 13-month year, the age and phase of the moon, and the year according to the secular Hebrew calendar calculated from the supposed date of the creation of the world in 3760 BC. To calculate the present year in the Hebrew calendar 2015 is added to 3760 giving the year 5775.


The rattrapante chronograph with double retrograde action has the particularity that while both hands still work in unison and from the same axis, they never meet as they operate on two separate scales on the opposite sides of the dial. For this reason, the function can probably be more accurately described as “detached” split-seconds chronograph. Two register dials for the chronograph count each elapsed minute up to 60-minutes and each elapsed hour up to 12-hours so that events of up to 12-hours in duration can be accurately recorded.


The two sectors above the chronograph registers on either side of the hour chapter ring, are indicators for the selection modes of the chiming and alarm function as well as for the alarm power-reserve.


The Reference 57260 offers three striking modes:

1. Striking (CHI): the watch chimes automatically at each passing quarter hour, in the same way as a clock. With five hammers striking five finely tuned steel gongs, the chiming sequence is that of "Big Ben", the clock of the Palace of Westminster in London.

2. Night silence (NIGHT): chiming automatically disabled from 10pm to 8am in order not to disturb its owner.

3. Silence (SIL): chiming switched off when it is not desired.

There are two additional options to choose from: Grande sonnerie (striking the hours and the quarters at every passing quarter) and Petite sonnerie (striking the full hours at the hour but only a quarter-strike without hours on the quarters). To repeat the chiming at any time, the slide on the band of the case can be activated whenever it is desired by the user.

The alarm - a traditional alarm on an additional differently tuned single gong with single hammer or Westminster carillon full chiming alarm in either Grande or Petite sonnerie mode - is set via the winding crown which moves an additional alarm hand co-axial with the hour and moon’s age hand. The flush-fit winding button is situated in the band of the case.

Push-pieces, slides and selectors of the various functions are detailed in the picture below.



Other functions are presented in the second dial. Among them a dual function perpetual calendar, astronomical functions, world time display, and an “armillary sphere” three-axis tourbillon.



The blue star chart in the upper half of the dial represents the night sky and the star constellations visible from the user’s home city, with the months appearing around the edge.


Around the edge of the dial, the outermost scale is for the months of the year and their respective number of days, while a concentric scale for the year divided into Zodiac sign periods additionally indicates the dates of the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices.

The sector above the tourbillion aperture indicates the Equation of Time showing the discrepancy between true solar time and standard meantime which fluctuates during the year but can be ahead by as much as 16 minutes (around November 3rd) and behind by 14 minutes (around February 12th). Solar and meantime are equal on just four occasions each year.

Two dual sectors on both sides of the tourbillon aperture indicate the time of sunrise and day length and time of sunset and night length in the user’s home city.


At 9 o'clock there is a 12-hour second time zone dial with separate day and night indicator window located at 10 o’clock. The second time zone is used in conjunction with the digitally displayed world-time function which gives a choice of 24 cities and countries and their respective time deviations from Greenwich Meantime.


This new 12-hour world-time mechanism and display is the first new system to be developed since the one invented by Louis Cottier in 1935 and based on a 24-hour indication.

Two options are available for the reading of the Gregorian perpetual calendar displayed on this dial: either the traditional Gregorian calendar or the business calendar system known as ISO 8601, a numerical system utilising 52 weeks and 7 days which is popular in the international financial sector.

The number of the week is read at 3 o'clock from the dial concentric to the month indication and the number of the day within the week is indicated by a number between 1 (for Monday) and 7 (for Sunday) in a window directly above the week dial.

The Armillary tourbillon cage containing the watch’s escapement is visible at 6 o'clock through the aperture beneath the sky chart.


This three-dimensional tourbillon was named "armillary" because it is reminiscent of the circles and rings of the scientific instrument known as the armillary sphere. It was placed in the second dial side as it nicely complements the astronomical functions.



The frame of the cage  is made of ultra-light aluminium and it constructed to incorporate the Vacheron Constantin company symbol of the Maltese Cross. Once every 15-seconds during the tourbillon’s rotation, the Maltese Cross becomes fully visible to the viewer.

List of complications:

Time Functions
1.  Regulator-type hours, minutes and seconds for solar meantime
2.  Visible spherical armillary tourbillon regulator with spherical balance spring
3.  Armillary sphere tourbillon
4.  12-hour second time zone hours and minutes
5.  Indication for 24 world cities for world-time
6.  Day and night indication for the 12-hour world-time

Perpetual Calendar Functions
7.  Gregorian perpetual calendar
8.  Gregorian days of the week
9.  Gregorian months
10. Gregorian retrograde date
11. Leap-year indication and four year cycle
12. Number of the day of the week (ISO 8601 calendar)
13. Indication for the number of the week within the year (ISO 8601 calendar)

Hebraic Perpetual Calendar Functions
14. Hebraic perpetual calendar with 19-year cycle
15. Hebrew name of the day
16. Hebrew name of the month
17. Hebrew date indication
18. Hebrew secular calendar
19. Hebrew century, decade and year
20. Indication for the number of months in the Hebraic calendar year (12 or 13 months)
21. Indication for the Golden Number with 19-year cycle

Functions of the Astronomic Calendar
22. Indications for the seasons, equinoxes, solstices and signs of the zodiac with “sun” hand
23. The sky chart (calibrated for the city of the owner)
24. Sidereal time hours
25. Sidereal time minutes
26. Hours of sunrise (calibrated for the city of the owner)
27. Hours of sunset (calibrated for the city of the owner)
28. Equation of time
29. Length of the day (calibrated for the city of the owner)
30. Length of the night (calibrated for the city of the owner)

Lunar Calendar Function
31. Phases and age of the moon, one correction every 1027 years

Religious Calendar Function
32. Indication for the date of Yom Kippur

Functions of the 3 column-wheel Chronograph
33. Retrograde fifths of a second chronograph (1 column wheel)
34. Retrograde fifths of a second rattrapante chronograph (1 column wheel)
35. 12-hour counter (1 column wheel)
36. 60-minute counter

Alarm Functions
37. Progressive alarm with single gong and hammer striking
38. Alarm strike / silence indicator
39. Choice of normal alarm or carillon striking alarm indicator
40. Alarm mechanism coupled to the carillon striking mechanism
41. Alarm striking with choice of Grande or Petite sonnerie
42. Alarm power-reserve indication

Westminster Carillon Striking Functions
43. Carillon Westminster chiming with 5 gongs and 5 hammers
44. Grande sonnerie passing strike
45. Petite sonnerie passing strike
46. Minute repeating
47. Night silence feature (between 22.00 and 08.00 hours - hours chosen by the client)
48. System to disengage the striking barrel when fully wound
49. Indication for Grande or Petite sonnerie modes
50. Indication for silence / striking / night modes

Further functions
51. Power-reserve indication for the going train
52. Power-reserve indication for the striking train
53. Winding crown position indicator
54. Locking mechanism for the striking
55. Winding system for the double barrels
56. Hand-setting system with two positions and two directions
57. Concealed flush-fit winding crown for the alarm mechanism

Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 is the latest creation of a lineage of exceptional tailor-made complicated watches that have marked the history of Vacheron Constantin since its inception as highlighetd in the video below. Enjoy.


More info on the Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 at www.reference57260.com


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