The owner of this watch named it The Vladimir. He was able to call it whatever he liked because he custom commissioned it from Vacheron Constantin. The brand is among the few that will entertain clients who not only want custom watches, but also custom watch movements. This is part of their highly exclusive “Atelier Cabinotiers” department. Do you know what it takes to design, prototype, perfect, manufacture, finish, and test a watch movement? Usually those costs are built into some type of economy of scale. Now think of all that for just one movement. We are talking incredible prices due to all the time and effort involved. Million bucks minimum. Luckily this client didn’t need to go through all of that, but Vacheron Constantin would have done it for the right price.
Call me crazy but I am guessing that the buyer of the Vladimir watch is Russian or Chinese. Clearly interested in astronomical complications, he wanted Vacheron Constantin to design and build him one of the most complex watches in the world. In 2005 Vacheron released what this piece is based on, the Tour de l’Ile. A limited production super watch that someone wanted to be even fancier (and more exclusive).
With about 900 parts the caliber 2750 manually wound movement is amazing. Vladimir needed something a bit more fancy, so VC added a running week counter (which tracks which of the year’s 52 weeks you are in). In addition to that I think that this piece unique model improves on the dial of the Tour de l’Ile watch in most every way. The dial is nicer, the hands are more attractive, the design is more polished, the colors are more luxurious, and the case overall is pretty awesome. It is like a celestial temple on your wrist. Why wasn’t the production version this nice?
The 47mm wide case is in 18k pink gold and the client wanted custom engraved animals around the sides of it. These are meant to represent the Chinese zodiac characters and look really nicely done. There is more gold on the dial, and all that lovely engraving and texturing (the dial itself is 18k white gold and hand machine guilloche engraved). I like the dauphine hour and minute hands much more than those on the non-Vladimir model.
So what does the Vladimir watch do? well the in-house made Vacheron Constatin caliber 2750 movement does a lot actually – couldn’t you tell? It has the time, seconds via the tourbillon, power reserve indicator for time, minute repeater (with cool bezel activator), power reserve for minute repeater, second timezone, moon phase indicator (lovely looking), perpetual calendar with day, date, month, leap year indicator, week in year indicator, sunrise time, sunset time, equation of time, and a celestial sky chart.
Some of those latter functions are set to a specific city – which of course the Vladimir owner set. What an amazing watch. According to Vacheron Constantin it took over 20 experts to create this one watch. I don’t even want to think of the price, but I am really jealous as this watch is totally amazing. This not-so-little-guy on the auction block in a few decades will no doubt fetch a mint.
Technical specs from Vacheron Constantin
Reference: 80253/000R-9593 Atelier Cabinotiers Vladimir
Calibre: 2750 Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva
Energy: Mechanical, manual-winding
Movement diameter: 36.00 mm
Movement thickness: 11.25 mm
Frequency: 18’000 Vibrations / hour (2.5 Hz)
Hours, minutes, second on tourbillon
Second time zone
Moon phase indication, age of the moon
Perpetual time equation
Week number indication
Power reserve: Approx. 58 hours
Case: 18K 5N pink gold, 47.00 mm in diameter
Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on one side
Manual engraving of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs on the side of the case
Dial: 18K white gold, Hand-guilloched
Minute-track painted in white
8 applied hour markers in 18K pink gold
Strap: Brown Mississipiensis alligator leather, square scales, hand-stitched, saddle finish
Clasp: Buckle in 18K 5N pink gold, Polished half Maltese Cross
Case-back engraved with “Les Cabinotiers” identification and “AC” Hallmark