An extremely attractive, early and rare tourbillon wristwatch of the famous traditional Swiss watch brand Vacheron Constantin, the world’s oldest watch brand in continuous operation, founded in 1755. Estimated production years: 1990–2000. Case made of platinum 950, diameter 38mm, thickness 11.5mm, sapphire caseback. Silvered 18k gold dial with Clous de Paris guilloché pattern. Caliber 1760, hand-wound, double barrel. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, small seconds hand on tourbillon shaft, power reserve at 12 o’clock. Black leather strap, Vacheron Constantin half Maltese cross-shaped platinum pin buckle.
Ref. 30050 is a historically significant model for Vacheron Constantin as it was the brand’s first wristwatch with a tourbillon. For this watch, in collaboration with the Nouvelle Lémania movements factory, the brand developed the hand-wound caliber 1760 with a tourbillon and two barrels, as opposed to the similar caliber 558 produced for Breguet, which had a single barrel. Additionally, the caliber had a power reserve indicator, which emphasised the symmetry of the dial as it was set along the dial’s vertical axis at the 12 o’clock position. The caliber 1760, produced from 1990 to about 2000, was used to equip the Les Complications Tourbillon Ref. 30050, available in yellow gold and platinum, while the skeletonized version of this caliber was used in Ref. 30051 watches.
Some sources, including the Antiquorum auction house, have claimed that the production volume of each of the 30050 models did not exceed 300 copies. Sometimes it is indicated that these were limited editions. Christie’s and Phillips give a stricter limit, stating that the total circulation of the 1760 caliber is 300 pieces. We didn’t find a reliable source to confirm the limited edition information; however, we have not been able to discover any evidence of the existence of watches with a number exceeding 300 for both models. It is highly likely that the information from Christie’s and Phillips is correct, assuming that the brand kept a continuous numbering of the calibers used in both models, in platinum and in yellow gold, possibly in a skeletonized version as well.
Ref. 30050 is a historically significant model for Vacheron Constantin as it was the brand’s first wristwatch with a tourbillon.
The design and finish of the caliber 1760 is of a very high standard. The layout of the movement, which is exposed on the side of the sapphire caseback, is harmonious and symmetrical, which is fully consistent with the symmetrical layout of the dial. Therefore, the movement remains relevant to this day, just like the watch itself.
Caliber 1760 is entirely decorated according to haute horlogerie standards, using traditional techniques including a Côtes de Genève with 45-degree inclined strips on the bridges, perlage finish of the mainplate, circular brushing, sphere-polished shafts and pins, flat-polished screw heads, traditional bevelling of the bridges with meticulous hand-worked shaping and polishing of the inner exterior and interior angles during bevelling, and gilt engraved inscriptions. “Tourbillon” and the caliber 1760’s serial number inscriptions are engraved in an elegant free-hand manner. The polishing and bevelling of the tourbillon bridge on the dial side and the upper part of the tourbillon cage is completed by an impressive feature: the central part of the bridge is shaped as a Maltese cross, the symbol of Vacheron Constantin, with finely polished inner corners. Such finishing 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.
Reasons to bid
All these features make the Les Complications Tourbillon Ref. 30050/000P-7605 an exclusive timepiece with a strong personality. It is taken as a memory of an early epoch when we experienced a boom in public interest in traditional mechanical watchmaking and complications. Therefore, the present lot would be a fine purchase for the collector who wishes to obtain an early tourbillon wristwatch of a historically important design from Vacheron Constantin, 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 technical characteristics of the caliber 1760, one of the most elegant tourbillon movements with its traditional aesthetics and high-end finishing. Moreover, the caliber 1760 has a prestigious status as the first tourbillon movement of the brand. Ref. 30050 will never lose its attractiveness for the discerning collector, especially since the production of it was discontinued in 2000, and the number of pieces produced was small.