A very rare, elegant and attractive highly complicated and ultra-thin rose gold wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Vacheron Constantin, founded in 1755. Production period: 2007–2021, purchase year: 2022. Case made of 18k rose gold, diameter 39mm, 8.82mm thick, crown with embossed Maltese cross brand emblem, sapphire caseback with brand logo, reference and case numbers engraved on the rim, perpetual calendar correctors at 1, 4, 8 and 10 o’clock. Skeleton dial, rose gold hands, rose gold hour markers and Maltese cross on the outer rim. Self-winding caliber 1120 QP SQ, central rotor with a 21k gold segment, power reserve up to 40 hours. Watch and caliber marked by the prestigious Poinçon de Genève. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, perpetual calendar with indicators for the date at 3 o’clock, the day of the week at 9 o’clock, the 48-month indication with leap years at 12 o’clock, and the moonphase display at 6 o’clock. Vacheron Constantin dark-brown leather strap, Vacheron Constantin half Maltese cross-shaped 18k rose gold pin buckle.
The present reference, 43172, made its debut in 2007 at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). With a 39mm case, it was significantly larger than the previous 36mm perpetual calendar skeletonized reference 43032, which was the first-ever skeletonized self-winding perpetual calendar wristwatch from Vacheron Constantin. First launched in 1984, the highly complicated reference 43032 had the functions of a perpetual calendar, displaying the date, day of the week, month, and leap year cycle, along with a moonphase display. Collectors praise Vacheron Constantin skeletonized perpetual calendars for their great legibility, which is often sacrificed on skeletonized models, and their slim and elegant design arising from the use of the ultra-thin caliber 1120 QP, one of the thinnest in its category. The basic automatic movement is based on a JLC920 movement-blank supplied by Jaeger-LeCoultre, while the calendar module is based on a kit from the Dubois Dépraz factory. Both are long-term partners and suppliers of Vacheron Constantin. JLC920 was the thinnest automatic movement with a full-size rotor in the world when it came out in 1967, and it is still among the thinnest in its category. It is used to this day by Vacheron Constantin.
It is probably the only classic-style wristwatch on the market with a perpetual calendar, skeletonized movement and marked with the new Poinçon de Genève.
Vacheron Constantin is one of the few watchmaking houses that continues to produce sophisticated mechanical watches with traditional skeletonization, baroque lines, lots of “air”, rich hand-engraved decorative patterns and thorough finishing of all components, including the traditional bevelled bridges and mainplate with meticulous handwork shaping and polishing of sharp inner corners during bevelling. This is an extremely costly operation for a watch brand, where a lot of time and effort is required even without taking into account that needed in the process of handcrafting, finishing, assembling and adjusting watches. The Patrimony Traditionnelle Skeleton Perpetual Calendar Ref. 43172/000R-9241 is an extremely compelling example of this approach, which, unfortunately, is decreasing its presence on the market.
Reference 43172 was produced in two basic versions during its production span from 2007 to 2021 – in rose gold, as the present lot, and in platinum. There was a significant modernisation in 2012 associated with updating the rules of the Poinçon de Genève. Until 2012, according to the regulation of that time, only the caliber was marked. Companies had until June 2012 to adapt their manufacturing operations to the new requirements of the Poinçon de Genève, including the marking of watches as a whole (marking of the case) and certification of the finished watch. Vacheron Constantin upgraded reference 43172, supplementing the hallmark marking of the caseback with a change in the style of the engraved inscriptions on the rim of the caseback, and, much more significantly, began to install a new version of the skeletonized self-winding caliber in the watch. In the non-skeletonized version, the new base movement is referred to as 1120/3, and its difference from the previous version 1120/2 is the use of a balance with adjusting weights (of the Gyromax type) and two spokes instead of a plain annular balance with three spokes, and, accordingly, with a missing regulator pin – that is, in 1120/3, a free-sprung balance is used. In addition, the engraving style of the skeletonized mechanism has changed to a small extent. None of these changes are reflected in any way in either the designation of the caliber (it remains 1120 QP SQ), or of the reference. Therefore, in order to distinguish between the two specific periods in the production of reference 43172, we designate the watches of the first period, from 2007 to mid-2012 and issued prior to the transition to the new Poinçon de Genève rules, as Ref. 43172 Mk1, and watches from the second period, produced approximately from mid-2012 to 2021, as Ref. 43172 Mk2. The present lot belongs to the second period.
If we evaluate the 43172 as a whole, it is definitely a significant achievement of Vacheron Constantin’s watchmaking artistry. It is probably the only classic-style wristwatch on the market with a perpetual calendar, skeletonized movement and marked with the new Poinçon de Genève. At the present moment reference 43172 has been discontinued.
Reasons to bid
The Patrimony Traditionnelle Skeleton Perpetual Calendar Ref. 43172/000R-9241 Mk2 is a very rare and attractive rose gold highly complicated watch from a world-famous watch brand, one of the market leaders in haute horlogerie and complicated timepieces. The undoubted advantage of the present watch is the combination of the outstanding aesthetic characteristics of its caliber 1120 QP SQ, one of the best self-winding perpetual calendar movements of the era, and the splendid and elegant classical design, which is particular to Vacheron Constantin’s watches. The rose gold Ref. 43172 appears extremely rarely in auctions, which suggests that this reference was produced in extremely small quantities, despite the fact that it was not a limited edition. Therefore, this watch is perceived as a promising collectible. Nevertheless, at the same time it is well suited for both casual and formal wear as a comfortable high-end self-winding and practical complication daily wearer.