The world’s most complicated watch: Vacheron Constantin Ref. 57260

Your brain is going to hurt just reading about the many, (so many) complications packed into what has been declared by Vacheron Constantin as the most complicated timepiece ever made. It tops the Supercomplication specially made by Patek Philippe in between the two world wars for multi-millionaire Henry Graves Jr. That watch recently sold at auction for $24 million.

The Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260 was made specifically for a private and anonymous client. It took three of Vacheron Constantin’s top watchmakers more than eight years to create. As the 57 in the reference number suggests, the watch has 57 distinct complications packed into a 98 mm by 50.55 mm thick solid 18k white gold case. While it looks like a pocket watch it’s simply too bulky (and too risky) to consider carrying it in your pocket. The 2,800-component Reference 57260 was built entirely from scratch.

The complications include multiple calendars and a double retrograde rattrapante chronograph, something which had never previously existed and therefore had to be calculated, designed and developed from scratch, thereby requiring a completely new movement. Even the mechanisms of the more familiar complications have been modified, reinterpreted and redesigned so that the finished watch is harmonious as a whole.

Tivoli

The 57260 runs on a 242 jewel Caliber 3750 movement that operates at a frequency of 2.5 Hz and has a 60-hour power reserve. The movement features the company’s Maltese cross trademark and the famous motto conceived by co-founder Jean Marc Vacheron:  “Faire mieux si possible ce qui est toujours possible” (“Do better if possible and it is always possible”).

The 57 complications of the piece embrace everything from simple time keeping to astronomy to extremely complex calendars along with some impressive bespoke features never before created for a watch.

All fifty-seven complications by function

57complications_front

57complications_back

  1. Hours, minutes, seconds, average solar time (regulator)
  2. Three-shaft tourbillon
  3. Tourbillon regulator with spherical balance spring
  4. 12-hour time zone, second hours and minutes time zone
  5. 24-city display for each time zone
  6. Day/night indication for 12-hour time zone

7 perpetual calendar functions

  1. Gregorian perpetual calendar
  2. Gregorian day name
  3. Gregorian month name
  4. Gregorian retrograde date
  5. Leap year and four-year cycle display
  6. Number of the day of the week (ISO 8601 calendar)
  7. Week to view (ISO 8601 calendar)

8 Hebrew calendar functions

  1. Hebrew perpetual calendar and 19-year cycle
  2. Hebrew day number
  3. Hebrew month name
  4. Hebrew date
  5. Hebrew secular calendar
  6. Hebrew century, decade and year
  7. Age of Hebrew year (12 or 13 months)
  8. Golden number (19 years)

9 astronomical calendar functions

  1. Seasons, equinoxes, solstices and signs of the Zodiac indicated by the hand on the sun
  2. Star chart (for the owner’s city)
  3. Sidereal time hours
  4. Sidereal time minutes
  5. Equation of time
  6. Sunrise times (for the owner’s city)
  7. Sunset times (for the owner’s city)
  8. Length of day (for the owner’s city)
  9. Length of night (for the owner’s city)

1 lunar calendar function

  1. Moon phases and age (one correction every 1,027 years)

1 religious calendar function

  1. Date of Yom Kippur

4 3 column wheel chronograph functions

  1. Retrograde seconds chronograph (one column wheel)
  2. Retrograde split-seconds chronograph (one column wheel)
  3. Hours counter (one column wheel)
  4. Minutes counter

7 alarm functions

  1. Alarm with its own gong and gradual striking
  2. Alarm strike / silence indicator
  3. Choice of normal alarm or carillon striking alarm indicator
  4. Alarm mechanism coupled to the carillon striking mechanism
  5. Alarm striking with choice of Grande or Petite Sonnerie
  6. Alarm power-reserve indication
  7. System to disengage the striking mechanism when alarm barrel fully unwound

8 Westminster carillon striking functions

  1. Westminster carillon chiming with 5 gongs and 5 hammers
  2. Grande Sonnerie passing strike
  3. Petite Sonnerie passing strike
  4. Minute repeating
  5. Night silence feature (10 p.m. to 8 a.m.)
  6. System to disengage the striking barrel when fully wound
  7. Indication for Grande or Petite Sonnerie modes
  8. Indication for silence / striking / night modes

6 other functions

  1. Movement power reserve indicator
  2. Power-reserve indication for the striking train
  3. Winding crown position indicator
  4. Dual barrel winding system
  5. Time setting in two positions and two directions
  6. Secret mechanism (opening of the button for alarm arbor)

Considering the number of major complications on display, the front and back dials of the Reference 57260 watch have a display that is exceptionally easy to read. That said, the watch comes with a comprehensive chart to help the owner understand the workings of the complications more fully.

The pushbuttons on the white gold case are discreetly integrated into its middle. The alarm winding crown maintains the clean lines of the elegant case, becoming invisible through a sophisticated concealment system.
The 2,800 parts were all completely hand-decorated by one single Master Watchmaker, using traditional techniques such as bevelling, circular graining, the “Côtes de Genève” decoration, and more.

The excellence of Vacheron Constantin is apparent in the entire finished work of the Reference 57260 watch, in full accordance with the Hallmark of Geneva. The price of the timepiece has not been disclosed, but it is likely to be upwards of $5 million. For those that wish to know everything about the 57260, Vacheron Constantin have created a micro website  which has an extensive overview of the watch.

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Visit the Vacheron Constantin website

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