Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers split-seconds chronograph – Tempo
The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers split-seconds chronograph – Tempo is a piece unique, featuring the Calibre 2756, a technical tour de force comprising of 1,163 components. The model is endowed with 24 complications, including a minute repeater, split-second chronograph, tourbillon and perpetual calendar. Its horological magnificence is beyond reproach.
Vacheron Constantin sits on an elevated plane, positioned above virtually all other watch brands. The prestigious marque, founded in 1755, is often described as ‘the world’s oldest Manufacture in continuous production’. While all of the Maison’s watches are refined to the nth degree, the ultimate Vacheron Constantin ownership experience is Les Cabinotiers.
Each creation by the firm’s Les Cabinotiers department is a unique piece. These works of art comprise of bespoke models as well as watches made speculatively. The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers split-seconds chronograph – Tempo was produced for Watches & Wonders 2020 and superbly demonstrates the technical virtuosity of the brand.
Some Les Cabinotiers watches are enriched with artistic crafts, others are endowed with numerous complications and some models encompass a combination of the two. The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers split-seconds chronograph – Tempo incorporates 24 complications. The movement at the epicentre of this magnum opus is the Calibre 2756, a technical tour de force comprising of 1,163 components.
Remarkably, the Swiss luxury brand has chosen to combine several über-challenging complications, including a minute repeater, split-second chronograph, tourbillon and perpetual calendar. Appraising each layer of the movement reveals an array of snail cams, levers, column wheels (plural), racks, hammers and gongs.
The finishing is of the highest order. Circular graining, Côtes de Genève motif, polished sinks, anglage, straight graining and mirror-polishing abound. Furthermore, Vacheron Constantin has indulged connoisseurs with hand-bevelled bridges, including a plethora of exquisitely executed internal angles. Independent validation of the model’s supremely refined composition is denoted with the revered Poinçon de Genève.
Finally, the Maison has entered into a partnership with the legendary Abbey Road Studios, famed for its relationship with The Beatles. Vacheron Constantin has entrusted the studios with recording the ‘unique sound of each model’. Indeed, even a Manufacture such as Vacheron Constantin, with all of its incredible expertise, sometimes needs a little help from its friends.
The brand’s press release
A timekeeping and calendar side
Chiming watches hold a special place within the world of horological complications. For more than two centuries, these complex mechanical devices have been given pride of place by Vacheron Constantin. In 2019, the Maison’s Les Cabinotiers department chose to pay tribute to them through one-of-a-kind models grouped under the theme “La Musique du Temps®”.
Les Cabinotiers split-seconds chronograph – Tempo is the crowning embodiment of this approach. In addition to the minute repeater function, which involves a «musical» structure that must take into account the positioning of the gongs and their harmonious sound when struck, the front side also displays timekeeping and calendar indications in addition to the split-seconds chronograph. The perpetual calendar indications are provided by the two lower subdials: one for the day and date, the other for the month and leap year.
The symmetrically placed upper subdials are dedicated to marking off time. The hours appear on the left- hand subdial with an inner 24-hour disc that can be used to display a second time zone; while the right- hand subdial shows the minutes on the outer disc and carries the chronograph
30-minute counter on the inner disc. Given that the chronograph is doubtless one of the most complex horological complications to be integrated into a calibre, the watchmakers of the Maison wanted to express the true measure of its nobility by creating a split-seconds chronograph equipped with a column wheel. The split-seconds system with two central hands enables intermediate (split) times to be calculated by stopping one of the two hands which, once restarted, ‘catches up’ with the first. With these initial functions, however, the 1,163-component 2756 calibre has revealed only half of its technical prowess.
The timepiece must be turned over to reveal the full scope of this accomplishment. With its perfectly symmetrical case and thanks to the ingenious removable strap attachment system, Les Cabinotiers split-seconds chronograph is perfectly reversible and can be worn on either side, according to the mood of the moment.
An astronomical and technical side
On the reverse watch face, the central hands, including the minutes hand with the sun symbol, indicate true solar time. Based on the apparent displacement of the Sun, the latter differs from civil time due to the inclination of the Earth’s axis and the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit. Mean solar time – the civil time that punctuates our daily lives – and true solar time coincide only four times a year, with maximal variations ranging from -16 minutes and 23 seconds to +14 minutes and 22 seconds. The difference is what is known as the equation of time, which, on this timepiece, is of the “running” variety, given the simultaneous nature of the two readings of time on either side of the watch. This information is complemented by indications of sunrise and sunset times as well as the duration of day and night, respectively positioned at 3 and 9 o’clock.
The lowest part of the dial features a display of the age and phase of the moon by means of a retrograde hand sweeping over a semi-circular subdial. Here too, watchmakers have not taken the easy path with this high-precision moon-phase display, which requires only one correction every 1,000 years. To ensure the visual harmony of this second dial, the tourbillon is majestically enthroned at 12 o’clock with its carriage shaped like a Maltese cross – the emblem of the Maison – topped by the central pointer-type power- reserve indicator.
This timepieces with its multiple functions and displays represents an authentic watchmaking challenge. Firstly, on a technical level, with this calibre developed by the same team as that behind Reference 57260 and in which the smallest detail has been taken into consideration. Witness the split-seconds lifting-lever, designed to save energy for a timepiece that thus enjoys a remarkable power reserve of 65 hours and still lasting up to 40 hours even with the chronograph activated. Secondly, aesthetically speaking, in order to ensure perfect legibility of the two slate grey dials with sunray and guilloché finishes around the circumference. It was indeed the aesthetic options linked to the display that dictated the construction of the calibre within a multidisciplinary approach. The result is an exceptional watch whose generous 50-millimetre diameter and 21-millimetre thickness are softened by the curves of the pink gold case. The alligator leather strap sets the finishing touch to the aesthetic appeal of this watch, a truly worthy heir to the traditions of Haute Horlogerie.
Les Cabinotiers: one-of-a-kind creations
In the Vacheron Constantin universe, Les Cabinotiers represents a department in its own right dedicated to the personalisation of models and to unique creations. This tradition dates back to the 18th century, a time when master watchmakers were called cabinotiers and worked in ateliers bathed in natural light, known as cabinets and located on the top floors of Geneva’s buildings. In the hands of these learned artisans, open to the new ideas of the Enlightenment, exceptional timepieces were born, inspired by astronomy, mechanical engineering and the arts. This expertise, which constitutes the great Geneva watchmaking tradition, has been flowing through Vacheron Constantin’s veins since 1755.
Vacheron Constantin and chiming watches
Chiming watches occupy a special place among horological complications. For more than two centuries, theses complex mechanisms have been highlighted by Vacheron Constantin. Today, Les Cabinotiers department has chosen to pay tribute to them through one-of-a-kind creations on the theme “La Musique du temps®”.
Born from the need to tell the time in the dark in an age when people had to rely on candlelight, chiming watches have taken various forms: repeating on demand the hours, quarters or half-quarters, as well as the minutes depending on the versions; Grande and Petite Sonnerie (sounding the hours and quarters in passing, with or without repeating the hour on each quarter); and finally those with an alarm (programmable chime). While each of these complications has its own distinctive characteristics, they all combine an integrated and complex mechanism with the finely crafted nature of musical instruments in terms of their resonance, acoustics and harmonics. Featuring watch cases equipped with complex movements as their only means of musical expression, these creations represent a magnificent feat of miniaturisation.
At Vacheron Constantin, the first mention of a chiming watch dates back to 1806: a gold repeater pocket watch registered by the founder’s grandson Jacques Barthélemi Vacheron, in the very first production register kept in the company’s archives. Ever since, sonnerie or repeater watches have been an integral part of the Manufacture’s proud heritage, steadily enriched over the decades.
A sound print certified by Abbey Road Studios
Sound and music have always played a role in the Maison’s partnerships, the latest of which is with Abbey Road Studios, a name closely associated with iconic artists such as The Beatles, Adele and Oasis. In collaboration with the studios, Vacheron Constantin launched its Fiftysix® collection, backed by the “One of not Many” campaign. The partnership also has a role to play for “La musique du Temps”, as Vacheron Constantin entrusts Abbey Road Studios with recording the unique sound of each model.
“Above and beyond extremely similar values, Abbey Road Studios and Vacheron Constantin work closely together on creative collaborations involving both content creation and sharing expertise. Entrusting the production of the sound prints of our models to an internationally recognised expert in the recording world is an integral part of our collaborative endeavours”, explains Laurent Perves, CMO Vacheron Constantin. For the first time, the repeater watches from “La Musique du Temps®” range have a unique sound print, recorded and certified by Abbey Road Studios. As Jeremy Huffelmann, Head of Partnerships at Abbey Road Studios, points out: “The opportunity to capture the sonic identity of these incredible timepieces is a privilege. These recordings perfectly encapsulate the shared values of craftsmanship, expertise and excellence that define our collaboration, whilst forever preserving the personality of these singular timepieces.”
Chiming watches hold a special place within the world of horological complications. For more than two centuries, these complex mechanical devices have been given pride of place by Vacheron Constantin. In 2019, the Maison’s Les Cabinotiers department chose to pay tribute to them through one-of-a-kind models grouped under the theme “La Musique du Temps®”. Les Cabinotiers split-seconds chronograph – Tempo is the crowning embodiment of this approach, with its 24 complications orchestrated by the new in- house 1,163-part 2756 calibre. This one-of-a-kind double-sided model displays the time and chronograph split-seconds measurements on the front, along with a perpetual calendar. The back is devoted to astronomical functions, including solar time, equation of time, sunrise and sunset times, duration of day and night, age and phases of the moon. This model featuring a tourbillon regulator is also equipped with a minute repeater. This timepiece with its multiple functions and displays represents an authentic horological challenge, both technically and aesthetically.