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Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 watch is a watch that cannot help but be defined by its numbers. 5 years of development, 23 complications, 6 barrels offering 3 weeks of power reserve, 514 components, a caliber that’s just 8.7mm thick, and to round it all up, it is a one-of-a-kind model. It is also the most complicated wristwatch that Vacheron Constantin has ever made. Therefore, there can be no doubts that the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 is one technically impressive watch. Of course, the number you know I wouldn’t forget is the over $1,000,000 price for the piece.

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

All images by David Bredan

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Let’s begin with the case. The Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication is a fairly big watch, but it is actually quite modestly sized if you consider the number of complications it houses. It is 45mm wide and just 13.6mm thick, impressive for a watch with 23 complications. The case is made out of 18k white gold and is very classic in its style and execution. The gently sloping lugs aid in wearing comfort and the entire case is masterfully polished. It’s funny, but it looks like the crown is a tad small, which can make winding a little difficult, but a bigger crown would have looked out of proportion with the case. Fortunately, the Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication watch has a power reserve of 3 weeks – yes, weeks, not days – which means you don’t have to wind it all that often.

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication has three separate gear trains that power the readings of civil, solar, and sidereal time. Civil time refers to the time that we all use and know. Solar time refers to the time that is dictated by the position of the sun in the sky. Sidereal time is another time-keeping system that is based on the position of fixed stars. This is a system seldom seen in watches because of its complexity. But it is also because the Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication has three separate gear trains that it is able to do things that other watches cannot do (more on this as we go along).

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The dial is slate gray and has many indicators, apertures, and hands. It might be a little daunting at first, but the various indicators and hands are actually legible and self-explanatory. In the middle, you have the standard hour and minute Breguet pomme-style hands in white gold, and a third hand in pink gold with a sun as its tip that tracks the solar time. Solar time is measured by looking at the position of the sun in the sky and it is not perfectly 24 hours a day. In fact, it is only precisely 24 hours in 4 days every year. Therefore, the hand in gold will point and indicate the amount of time solar time deviates from civil time. This is also known as the equation of time indicator.

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Now, the solar time or equation of time indicator might look simple, but it is actually telling solar time in real-time. In most other watches with equation of time indicators, what is being shown is the difference in time between civil and solar time, so you will need to do some mental math to work out the exact solar time. Here, you simply read off the dial. It is what is known as a running equation of time indicator and this is possible because of the watch’s separate tropical gear train. This tropical gear train also drives all the other solar complications, which we will talk about later.

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Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

On the front dial is also the perpetual calendar display. The date is indicated using a pointer-type date display via a sub-dial at 3 o’clock. A squiggly hand makes it easy to read the date. The month and days are shown through small apertures at 1 o’clock and the leap year indicator is displayed just to the top right of the date sub-dial.

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Under the date display, you have a cut-out with a disc that shows the zodiac signs, seasons, equinoxes and solstices. For example, in the photos here, the watch is showing that we are approaching spring and that we have just passed the March Equinox and that we are now in the realm of Taurus. Obviously, you are going to need to know your zodiac signs pretty well to be able to make sense of this disc.

Moving on, we have the sunrise and sunset indicators that are displayed on a graduated scale running from 4:30am to 8:30am and 4:30pm to 8:30pm respectively. Sunrise and sunset times vary across the world, so these will be calibrated to the owner’s city. In between the sunrise and sunset indicators is the length of day and length of night display. The length of daylight hours is signified in gold, while the length of the night is represented in black. Though the aperture that indicates the length of day and night is a little small, all in all, these three indicators are actually quite easy to read.

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

At 9 o’clock, we have the moon-phase display that also doubles up as a day and night indicator. The moon-phase disc is actually made out of a piece of sapphire, under which there is a concentric disc that rotates to show day or night – beige for the day and black for the night. The moon-phase display also shows the age of the moon and it is accurate to 57 seconds per lunar cycle. Or in other words, it will be off by just 1 day every 122 years.

Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 Watch Hands-On Hands-On

The last complication that is visible on the dial side is the mareoscope, which combines a tide level indicator with a 3D depiction of the alignment of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. It’s actually pretty cool once you figure out what you are looking at. The tide level indicator is pretty simple, there’s a scale that shows when high and low tide will occur, and a pointer that is labeled “Now” shows the exact tidal conditions at any given time.

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  • Word Merchant

    It’s an astonishing piece of engineering and design, and looks surprisingly wearable, if a $1m watch could ever be considered a daily watch. But that dial is a mess. I get that the design of the movement must dictate where things appear, but the typography is dreadful with a random selection of font sizes, kerning and orientation. Bits of the dial look rather cheap too. At some level, that’s nit-picking, I realise, but a $1m watch needs to be perfect.

  • Mikita

    I get that it’s such a work of art and so much craftsmanship went into producing this watch. But this dial is a total pain from a purist’s perspective… Messy, everything appears in the random position (I know it’s not random and dictated by the movement), the case is thin but so wide so that it looks like a pancake on the wrist. No, I don’t like it. I know we cannot compare them, but I’d prefer wear some Lange Datograph as a daily watch (if I had an option).

    • William & Falcon

      Wanna save 40%? I’ll get you a crayon…

      • Mikita

        I’d sell my crayons and get some Lange + F.P.Journe + P.Dufour + L.Ferrier + Credor Eichi II 🙂

        • William & Falcon

          Sounds good. I’ll take the Eichi 1.

          • Mikita

            Also gonna sell your box of crayons? Let us not mistake our Eichis! http://watchesbysjx.com/2015/07/face-off-seiko-credor-eichi-i-vs-eichi-ii.html

          • William & Falcon

            Yeah, I’ve read that article before. It’s a great piece. So I get the Eichi 1 and you get the 2. No conflict here, brother.

          • Mikita

            Damn, I’d have to stick to Vagabondage III

          • Berndt Norten

            Oh doctor, please, enough of your vagabond ways

        • Gokart Mozart

          What, no Richard Mille? ,-)

          • Mikita

            Oh, the Chupa Chups edition was great!

      • Gokart Mozart

        Eichi 1 for definite, and both Vagabond 1 & 3.

        Vagabond(age) 1 lokks better, but damn, those jumping seconds.

  • William & Falcon
    • If your in Le Brassus.

    • Gokart Mozart

      No, because this is just an equation of time hand, and does not follow or lead the minute hand all the way around the dial.

      This is telling me the solar time is about 30 seconds ahead of our time. The plus or minus 15 is rough the biggest difference you can have between the 2 different times.

      If you look at Luciano’s wrist shot above, the solar time is about 12 minutes behind our time.

      However, I am a bit disappointed with the sidereal time indicator, it’s very had to read TBH 😉

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Oh man !!! Why wasn’t i born rich instead of well hung. !!

    • Word Merchant

      Surely you could use the latter to make you the former.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I don’t like to make a big thing about it ( no pun intended ) …………and don’t call me Shirley 🙂

        • Word Merchant

          As a chef you must know a great deal on how best to handle meat.

          • Raymond Wilkie

            Am not about to chop it up into fillet steaks !

      • IG

        True, the world is desperately waiting for a Scottish pornstar wearing mini kilt and munching haggis before action.

        • Word Merchant

          Ben Dover and Phil MacOlon?

    • William & Falcon

      You gotta roll that up before you mow your lawn or it could be a disaster.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I wake up in a wig-wam most mornings.

    • What’s it like to walk on three legs?

      • Raymond Wilkie

        I fling it over my left shoulder if you must know.

  • MEddie90

    Over the past day we had two unusual functions surface, the tide indication and sunrise + sunset. Now Vacheron comes along with a watch that combines both, what a baller.

    As much as I love many astronomic complications from the likes of Christiaan van der Klaauw et al I must admit they’re useless (largely anyway) but incredibly charming. An nice tie to the history of watchmaking where such things were more relevant and a fascinating exercise in mechanical mastery.

    And that moon-phase indicator is a piece of art.

  • Phil leavell

    First off this is my favorite watchmaker do I like this. Not sure the face and dial are very self-explanatory but it’s got kind of a new edgy styling especially for VC kind of reminds me of some of stuff TWC is done and Lange S. As far as the price goes there’s no way I can justify buying a watch that’s worth almost as much as my home. I find it hard or even justifiable to wear a watch with more than about 10 g. The cool Factor on this watch is way out there I love it. Truly a piece of artwork

  • Rob D

    I’d love to know what the power reserve would be for a much less complicated watch (or even just a three hander) with barrels like this. No more ~40 hours PR, I want at least 120 hours. If this can manage 500 hours and still be relatively slim, whilst fitting everything else into it then other manufacturers really should be upping the power.

  • Barring any sudden discoveries that I am the heir to the Bavarian throne, I’ll never own a million dollar watch. That being said, however, if I was in the market for such a timepiece, Id’ probably choose something that was a but more visually cohesive. That dial looks like someone’s napkin sketch of what they think a multi-complication watch should include. Did they blow the entirety of their design budget on the tidal indicator and when it came to the day and month windows just shrug and say, “Ah, screw it, just cut out a couple of small windows and shove them somewhere”?

  • SuperStrapper

    This must fall under the stealth wealth category. As complicated and masterful it is, the appearance does not speak such exclusivity.

    • IanE

      Don’t worry, your Mega-yacht will do the talking!

      • SuperStrapper

        The toilet lights up and welcomes the experience of touching my ass with a soft robotic voice and delightful little 8-bit tune. I won’t lie, it’s my favourite yacht complication.

        • JosephWelke

          That made me spit out my coffee. Full marks.

  • Impressive watch, but to put it into (a crazy) perspective, you could buy the Krayon Everywhere for 600K for the sunrise/sunset times and a Sin 240 St Gz for 1830 for the tides – a savings of at least 398,170 CHF over this VC. Assuming you are willing to double wrist it, ha ha.

    • IG

      You can look Everywhere, but that Krayon watch is a bargain!

    • IanE

      And, if you owned this (I speak metaphorically, of course, Mark : who would choose to move from Hawaii!?) and moved, you would need new cams to allow for your new latitude/longitude – I wonder whether VC would do that gratis?!

      • MeaCulpa

        If one lived far enough north one would have to change dial a couple of times each year as the range of the indicator for sunset and sunrise is too small.

    • Gokart Mozart

      Or you could buy a few Christian Vaan Der Klauws for a lot cheaper and also gain a planetarium on your wrist.

      You may have to do a Hayek though. Unfortunately, I dont have the wrists to pull it off, although I do have a beard.

      http://www.thepurists.net/Patrons/Members/AlbertoS/Breguet/Hayek/Hayek_L.jpg

      • Ah yes, the famous photo of Sr. wearing all of his “children”.

  • Marius

    To be honest, I’m rather underwhelmed by this watch, and I have four problems with it.

    1. As the Watch Snob recently explained, producing highly-complicated watches is not exactly super difficult these days. Sure, 50-60 years ago, producing such a watch would have been extremely difficult; that’s why timepieces such as the Patek H. Graves super complications are so special. Nevertheless, today you have CNC, CAD software, laser precision, advanced micro-engineering, etc. making the manufacturing of such watches considerably easier. Even entry-level brands such as Montblanc, F.Constant or Tag offer affordable perpetual calendars and tourbillons.

    2. As Mikita and the Word Merchant rightly argued, the dial is quite busy and . What’s more, I never really liked astronomic complications. I mean, if I’m paying $1 million for a watch, I would like to get a fun & visually attractive complication. Sure, if you’re a hardcore philatelist you might like this watch, but otherwise, I don’t see what’s so interesting & entertaining about knowing the sunrise/sunset/tides. I would get bored by these complications in less than one day.

    3. I don’t like the fact that the movement, and especially the tourbillon are not very visible. As is well-known, the tourbillon doesn’t really improve the accuracy of the watch; its main purpose is the visual spectacle it delivers. As a result, why would you use an expensive tourbillon that is barely visible? That’s like covering up the spectacular engine of a Ferrari or Lamborghini.

    4. Overall, looking at the case, dial, and caliber, I really don’t see this as $1 million watch. Granted, it might look great in person, but judging from the pictures, this Vacheron doesn’t give me the impression of $1 million. For instance, if you’re looking at a similarly-priced Greubel&Forest, you can immediately see that the quality is there. This Vacheron, though, looks more like a $100,000 watch, than a timepiece costing ten times more.

    • IG

      Sentences starting with ‘To be honest’ usually are not honest.

      • Marius

        Honestly, I stop at nothing for philanthropy: I donate nothing and stop there.

      • Berndt Norten

        We used to say ‘to be frank’ but Shirley people were confused

    • Dénes Albert

      Philatelist, really? What’s stamp collecting got to do with this?

    • Luciano

      All true until the moment you have it in your wrist… 🙂
      I was fortunate enough to try this piece, and the photos from ABTW and my own don’t make it justice. My quick wristie below…
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c5660399db74ce6506131ff7dc59ef69bff7505e57f5295a0451ca378413755f.jpg

      • Ricko Dayat

        wow that was so awesome…

    • Maserati used to throw a piece of carpet over their engines at some point. Look how far it got them!

    • Gokart Mozart
      • Omni Art

        amazing car!

        • Gokart Mozart

          Ferrari BB 512.

          This is worse looking American version.

    • frauss

      “…a hardcore philatelist”. What does stamp collecting have to do with this? (Deja vu)

  • IG

    In Reykjavík the sunrise can change from 3am to 11am and the sunset from 3pm to 12:00pm during the year. Can the Swiss basterds customise this million $ watch to these ranges if I’m a filthy rich Icelandic mofo?

  • BNABOD

    Some tough critics below but not from me. Yes the complications aside from the date are pointless but what a beauty. Superbly executed and wearable. Only thing I am not a fan of is that you can’t barely see the movement. Aside from that I think it is stellar.

  • IanE

    Well, I like it all except for the day of the week and month indicators: saved, phew!

  • SwissMatic

    What season is it? Let me check my watch…

    • Mikita

      You may need this in Singapore LOL

    • Sappwood?

      At 45mm, it’s apparently Big Boi Season.

  • Even utilizing modern technology, it is still a work of mechanical art. More data points that I would ever use or want, but still a beautiful set of complications.

  • cluedog12

    Nevermind the influential blogs. Vacheron Constantin should send this watch around the world over the course of a year to visit a bunch of carefully chosen Instagram “influencers”. I’m picturing the watch showing up at a random pub get together with its guardian dressed in 18th century Genevan regalia. “Les Cabinotiers – It’s our answer to online microbrands.”

    • Luciano

      They did almost that. I had the opportunity to try it in VC boutique in Dubai. I hadn’t planned, was just walking by and checking the window and the store manager was kind enough to show me this beautiful piece.

    • Imagine the impact it would have in places like Congo or Haiti 🙂

  • Sevenmack

    I love these kind of watches. Visually interesting. Artistic. Highly detailed to please the eye. And they happen to also tell time. This Vacheron knocks it out of the park for me.

  • Dinkee, H. O.

    Will need some aesthetic enhancements before it can be a Hodinkee Edition.

  • Omni Art

    While technically fascinating, it is questionable on design…. these one-off pieces are really a collectible item, but i hope VC will make scaled down versions of this watch… with less complications and lower $$$ ….something like PP 5102 …

  • Ross Diljohn

    What the absolute f… this is amazing…

  • mtnsicl

    How come they didn’t make the little sun yellow?

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    I love space stuff, so this watch is mechanical candy for me. I could see myself breaking it within a month because I’d be fiddling with it so much.

  • mark

    Its a work of art. But if I had the money I wouldn’t buy it, its got too much going on for me. Day, date and moon phases on a 24 hour display is enough for me.

  • WMWM

    Amazing masterpiece with lots of useless complications

  • There goes my retirement egg nest!

  • Coert Welman

    And the scary thing is that, despite all the complications going, it is more legible than a similar priced Richard Mille.

  • frauss

    This thing must be a bear to adjust. It is certainly not adjusted here. 23 Feb was Thursday and not Wednesday. If February, then it can’t be after the equinox. Sunrise and sunset both show about 6:40 making a 12 hour day and night. That is not indicated on the slider.
    On the back, why (how) does the revolving disk look blue then black? Polarization?

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