Pre-SIHH 2019: Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Grand Complications Phoenix
When Vacheron Constantin's Les Cabinotiers department releases a new watch, you know it's going to kick serious ass. The word Cabinotiers refers to the highest possible echelon of master watchmakers who typically get first dibs on the topmost floor of Geneva's historical buildings, where the workshops are bathed in light. Equally adept with the science of haute horlogerie as they are with the art of it, these guys are in the business of handcrafting the most exquisite timepieces money can buy.
Each year, the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers department releases one, sometimes two, unique pieces that exhibit rare technical and aesthetic complexity, often inspired by astronomy, science and the fine arts. This November, well ahead of 2019, the Genevan manufacture introduced the Les Cabinotiers Grand Complications Phoenix.
A one-of-a-kind timepiece with a twin-dial construction, Les Cabinotiers Grand Complications Phoenix contains a staggering 15 horological complications including a minute repeater, a tourbillon, perpetual calendar and equation of time - four of the best loved complications in the world. All 15 complications are very legibly displayed over both dials, which are crafted in a very elegant shade of slate grey.
On the front, there is the perpetual calendar which accounts for four of the 15 complications as it displays the date, day, month and leap year. Likewise, the equation of time, sunset/sunrise display, and power reserve indicator can also be seen from the front. Finally, the minute repeater mechanism may be hidden within the watch but two relief-engraved notches on the bezel tell you – along with the absence of a standard sliding lever – that to activate the chimes, all you need to do is give it a good ol' twist.
Turn to the back and you'll be greeted with a sky chart and the moon phase display, as well as the sidereal hours and minutes, which is time as told by the stars instead of the sun, which in turn is known as solar time. The seasons and zodiac signs plus the striking mechanism torque indicator also occupy this dial.
All these complications run on the Vacheron Constantin in-house manufactured Calibre 2755, which is manually wound and stays powered for a maximum of 58-hours.
Les Cabinotiers Grand Complications Phoenix comes in 18k pink gold and its case measures 47mm wide and 19.10mm in height, making it a fairly thickset watch. But all is forgiven when you consider the stunning hand engraving of a phoenix covering the entire surface of its case.
The techniques featured here include pounced ornament, also known as bas-relief, and fine line engraving for the bezel and case back. According to Vacheron Constantin, at least a decade's worth of experience is required to perfect this method of gold sculpting in order to achieve such stunning three-dimensional effect.
Like the mythical firebird, Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix is a watch as rare as it is beautiful – two traits one would naturally expect from the illustrious manufacture's most esteemed atelier.