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SIHH 2017: Vacheron Constantin - Les Cabinotiers Symphonia Grande Sonnerie 1860

Presented at SIHH 2017, the new Les Cabinotiers Symphonia Grande Sonnerie 1860 is the first grande sonnerie wristwatch in the history of Vacheron Constantin.



In fact, whereas the expertise acquired by the Manufacture in this challenging art dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries, with pocket watches endowed with grande sonnerie and petite sonnerie mechanisms (1827) or with a grande sonnerie and a minute repeater (1908), before this model Vacheron Constantin had not yet integrated a Grande Sonnerie mechanism in a wristwatch.

With the new 3 Hz (21,600 vibrations/hour) Calibre 1860, Vacheron Constantin brilliantly rises to the challenge of housing grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie and minute repeater mechanisms within a space measuring 37 mm in diameter and a mere 9.1 mm thick.

The assembly of the 727 parts - all of them meticulously decorated and assembled by hand - required 500 hours of work performed by a single master watchmaker.


Directly linked to the hours and minutes functions, the striking mechanism demands for considerable energy - just consider that the grande sonnerie can be activated up to 96 times per day, meaning 912 chimes.

It therefore comprises two barrels – one dedicated to the movement and the other to the striking mechanism – respectively providing a 72-hour power reserve and 20 hours of strikework power reserve in its grande sonnerie mode.

The selection of the three strike modes – grande sonnerie, petite sonnerie and silence – is performed via the 30-degree rotating bezel, with a marker pointing towards the strike-mode indicator – PS, GS and SIL – engraved on the side of the case.


The minute-repeater is activated by a push-piece built into the crown at 3 o’clock. The latter is large and knurled to ensure a good grip when winding the movement in a clockwise direction and charging the striking mechanism by a counter clockwise rotation.

Another distinctive feature of this complex movement is the elimination of the ‘phantom’ quarters, as small silence generally perceptible between the chiming of the hours and minutes is often referred to.

Whatever the hours, quarters or minutes that the watch strikes, the time interval between each sound remains identical and the chiming sequence is regular, smooth and seamless.

In addition, the striking mechanism is equipped with a non-dragging ‘surprise’ jumper-spring, enabling it to chime exactly on the hours and quarters. This autonomous device is triggered only when the watch is chiming, thereby saving energy and enhancing the movement’s precision.

The striking mechanism – with its racks, feeler-spindles and snails – customarily positioned beneath the dial is here visible on the back of the watch, fitted with a transparent sapphire crystal caseback.


To prevent possible damages to the extremely complex mechanisms, Vacheron Constantin has developed several original security systems which facilitate the operation of the various watch functions, while preserving it from the risk of mutually detrimental interferences.

During time-setting, no chime can be sounded (whether in passing or on demand).

Conversely, when chiming is in progress – be it a repeater chime or an ‘in passing’ chime – time-setting is impossible until the watch has finished striking.

Nor will any new chiming operation begin so long as another one is sounding. Meanwhile, the strike-mode security device ensures that when a change of mode is made while a chime is in progress, it will only be activated once the previous chime is complete.


Finally, if the winding barrel has almost wound down and there is not enough energy for the watch to chime regularly and perfectly right the way to the end of its sequence, the striking mechanism will not be activated, whether in passing or on demand.

The complex mechanism is housed in a white gold 45 mm-diameter case featuring a caseband that may be customised. Engraved on the back with the inscription “Pièce Unique”, the case is adorned with finely engraved striations echoed by the knurled motif on the crown.


Enhanced by opaline, circular-brushed or snailed finishing, as well as baton-type white gold hour-markers and hands complemented by two black oxidised pointers, the dial expresses harmony and clarity with the small seconds sub-dial at 7 o’clock, the power-reserve indicator at 5 o’clock, along with the strikework power reserve at 2 o’clock indicated by a serpentine hand.


The case and dial of this one-of-a-kind model can be customised in Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers, department thereby reflecting the tradition of technical excellence, innovation and bespoke design typical of the 18th century Geneva watchmaking artisans known as cabinotiers.

Fitted with a black alligator strap secured by a white gold folding clasp, Les Cabinotiers Symphonia Grande Sonnerie 1860 bears the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva a guarantee of provenance, high-quality precision, durability and horological expertise.

The timepiece comes in a precious presentation box and is delivered with the “Music of Time” resonance holder that amplifies the sound and the harmony of watch chimes. The price is on request only but, considering the complexity of the watch and that it is a unique piece, we believe it is likely to be in the region of a million Swiss Francs. vacheron-constantin.com

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Time and Watches: SIHH 2017: Vacheron Constantin - Les Cabinotiers Symphonia Grande Sonnerie 1860
SIHH 2017: Vacheron Constantin - Les Cabinotiers Symphonia Grande Sonnerie 1860
SIHH 2017: Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Symphonia Grande Sonnerie 1860; Presented at SIHH 2017, the new Les Cabinotiers Symphonia Grande Sonnerie 1860 is the first grande sonnerie wristwatch in the history of Vacheron Constantin. The price is on request only but, considering the complexity of the watch and that it is a unique piece, we believe it it is likely to be in the region of a million Swiss Francs.
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