Pocket watches don’t often receive loads of attention in the zeitgeist of modern horology, but when Vacheron Constantin publicly debuted this feat of craftsmanship and engineering in late 2015 the entire watch community took notice. Vacheron took on the challenge of creating the world’s most complicated timepiece of all time. The “57” in the Ref. 57260 alludes to the shocking number of complications that Vacheron was able to include in this watch, many of which being completely new complications requiring Vacheron to file over 10 new patents.
The only other pocket watch that I can think of that has received this much attention in recent years has been the Patek Philippe Henry Graves Supercomplication, a watch with 24 total complications, which sold most recently at auction in 2014 for approximately 24,000,000 USD. The 57260 far surpassed the Henry Graves watch in terms of complexity, as it features more than double the number of complications as well as introduces a plethora of new complications. Some of the more notable calendar complications include a full Hebraic calendar with a special indicator to denote when Yom Kippur will start, a Gregorian perpetual calendar, and an astronomical calendar featuring a star chart specifically for the buyer’s home city as well as sunrise and sunset times. Additionally, the pocket watch features a minute repeater, a “night-silence” feature which prevents chiming from 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., choice of Grande or Petit Sonnerie for the alarm, as well as a retrograde split-seconds chronograph. Adding to the beauty of this pocket watch is the fact that it was released in an understated white gold case which very nicely compliments the font as well as the yellow gold and blued steel hands.
The Ref. 57260 was one of the first watches to really grab my attention and draw me into the world of horology past much of the surface level information I previously felt sufficed. Seeing so much innovation and mechanical intelligence packed into one relatively small object made me more interested than I ever had been in an area of watchmaking that I previously had given little or no thought to. To see something so unexpectedly cool at the time (and to see it so seamlessly executed) made me interested to discover what else was out there. Whether it would later be getting excited over horological automata; Lange’s Triple-Split Chronograph; or Vacheron’s recent star, the Traditionnelle Twin Beats Perpetual Calendar, the 57260 is what started all of it for me.
For a full overview of the 57 complications please visit Vacheron Constantin at http://reference57260.vacheron-constantin.com/en2/watch-with-57-complications