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Vacheron Constantin - Maitre Cabinotier Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon

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In September 2015, Vacheron Constantin unveiled Reference 57260, a pocket watch with 57 complications which was acclaimed as the most complicated watch ever made. Three master watchmakers from the company’s Atelier Cabinotiers workshops worked on this exceptional timepiece for eight years to present it in time for Vacheron Constantin’s 260th anniversary. We wrote about it in detail here.

As it is easy to imagine, Reference 57260 will be a great source of inspiration for developing new timepieces that will highlight some of its complications separately.

The first one is the new Maitre Cabinotier Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon. With it, Vacheron Constantin brings in a wristwatch two of the Ref.  57260’s complications: the double retrograde indications and the armillary tourbillon.


The retrograde function governs the hours and minutes while the tourbillon revolves on two axes and has a spherical balance-spring. The movement coated with NAC (a special metal alloy) is also revealed through lateral windows in its imposing case.


Housed in a white gold case (45.7 mm diameter, 20.06 mm thick), this timepiece forms part of the Maitre Cabinotier collection, which showcases Vacheron Constantin’s horological achievements, customised work and overall excellence.


The manually wound calibre 1990 movement developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin features retrograde hours and minutes indications with instant flyback. The hands flick back to zero at such a speed that the special attention is needed to ensure a precise indication and such lightweight and resistant materials as the titanium used in the hands.

The elegantly structured tourbillon operates as a sphere perpetually rotating on two axes under a sapphire crystal dome at 9 o'clock. It’s called an armillary tourbillon because it is based on an armillary sphere like the one incorporated in an astronomic clock made by the French clockmaker, Antide Janvier, in the 18th century.

The spherical balance spring, which was first developed by Jacques-Frédéric Houriet in 1814, is particularly rare in today’s watches. The shape ensures the concentric development of the spring and consequently the isochronism of the balance wheel. The tourbillon carriage, made of lightweight aluminium alloy, incorporates Vacheron Constantin’s Maltese Cross emblem, which forms up every 15 seconds as the tourbillon rotates. This spectacle may be admired every 30 seconds through a sapphire crystal opening on the side of the case.


Not just fascinating, the armillary tourbillon achieves remarkable timekeeping precision. It is fitted with a new type of escapement featuring escape wheel and lever in silicon with diamond pallet stones (very low coefficient of friction) for resistance to wear and long life.

The new calibre 1990 is electro-plated with an NAC treatment in a dark anthracite colour creating a mirror-polished effect. The architecture of the movement is modern on the dial side with sharply cut bridges and more conventional on the back with traditional Geneva stripes. Slow beating at 2.5 Hz (18,000 vibrations per hour) and comprising 299 components, it offers 65 hours of power reserve. Four patents are pending for the calibre 1990 inventive features.



The finishing is outstanding. The chamfering of all the edges took more than 130 hours. The Poinçon de Genève hallmark is exceptionally also engraved on the dial side above the inscription “Armillary Tourbillon” to remark the quality of this timepiece.


The Vacheron Constantin Maitre Cabinotier Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon (ref. 91990/000G-9882) is a “Pièce Unique” as engraved on caseback. vacheron-constantin.com



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