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AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS/Vacheron Constantin

Vacheron Constantin, Ref. 4907, White Gold Chronomètre Royal

04.14.16

The Geneva Watch Auction: THREE, Lot 153

Behind a delightfully historic name, Vacheron Constantin’s "Chronomètre Royal" represents one of horology’s best known models as well as one of the first attempts at serial production of a precision timepiece. Each and every Chronomètre Royal was an ultimate expression of Vacheron Constantin’s know-how, in terms of aesthetic design, chronometry, and nishing quality. Accordingly, vintage Chronomètre Royal wristwatches are considered by collectors and scholars to be amongst the nest ever made by any brand.

Phillips Watches is absolutely delighted and proud to oer in the present lot, what we believe to be the rarest and most exceptional example of a vintage Chronomètre Royal wristwatch the market has ever seen. A reference 4907 in white gold, it’s a highly coveted model thanks to its substantial case and long, massive lugs that give it incredible presence on the wrist. Produced mainly in yellow gold, with fewer examples in pink gold, the fact that the reference was made in a white case metal was simply unheard of until now.

Stating that the present lot is rare would be an understatement. Not only is this timepiece fresh to the market, but research shows that never before has a white gold reference 4907 appeared at auction. It is unknown how many examples of reference 4907 were cased in white gold during the model’s nine years of production. If more examples besides the present piece were made, their whereabouts remain unknown.

The watch is part of a line with a very rich heritage for Vacheron Constantin. The Chronometre Royal became an instant success upon its launch in 1907 and was avidly sought aer by the cognoscenti. The South American market was the first to request such a timepiece. A letter dated April 17, 1907 from Campos in Rio de Janeiro shows the interest of this agent in a robust precision instrument. Campos had organised a lottery system in which subscribers would pay a monthly fee to take part in a series of drawings (this seems to have been a successful way to sell watches in Brazil at the time and was tested by different agents for different brands). The winner would win a watch and the other subscribers would enter the next drawing. So successful were these watches, Campos delivered over 3000 of them in only four short years.

In Vacheron Constantin catalogues since 1907 first as a pocket watch then introduced in wrist watch form in 1953. The latter housed Vacheron’s absolutely highest grade manual-winding movements - calibres 1007BS (sub seconds) and 1008BS (central seconds) as in the present lot. The BS in the appellation stands for Balance Stop; Vacheron Constantin being one of the first (if not the first) to actually use a hacking seconds in a wristwatch made for civilian use. In an ad from 1957, Vacheron Constantin made it clear: the Chronomètre Royal is a watch with: "class, created for a demanding clientele by the same experts who, at Vacheron Constantin, have produced the victorious chronometers at the observatory trials."

Vacheron Constantin replaced the manual winding calibers in 1962 with automatic movements, meaning that the current reference 4907 was in production for only 9 short years.

In pristine condition, the case on the present example retains its original brushed and polished surfaces, strong hallmarks, and its crisp "Chronomètre Royal" engraving on its caseback. Its original silver dial is free of any restorations, and features raised, hard enamel printing and faceted, applied white gold hour markers. Highest quality execution is seen throughout, including the impeccable finish found on the perfectly preserved movement, it may be considered a masterpiece from the brand that is on par with a Grand Complication.

A watch at the highest pinnacle in terms of technical advance, precision, movement nish and elegance, the present lot is a perfect opportunity not only to own a piece of watchmaking history but one that no one had ever even suspected existed.

To bid on this lot, please click here for more details.

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