An extremely attractive and rare high-end chronograph wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Vacheron Constantin, founded in 1755. Estimated production period: 2000–2010. Case made of 950 platinum, diameter 36mm, thickness 10.5mm, sapphire caseback attached by four screws. Matt silvered ‘sigma’ dial with recessed (sunken) counters and raised peripheral ring with tachymeter scale, solid gold hands and applied indexes. Hand-wound caliber 1140, power reserve up to 48 hours. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, small seconds hand, chronograph with central seconds hand and 30-minute counter. Black leather strap, Vacheron Constantin half Maltese cross-shaped platinum buckle.
The present example is definitely one of the finest and most attractive traditional hand-wound chronographs. The Vacheron Constantin Ref. 47101 was introduced in 1989 as part of their Les Historiques collection, created as a tribute to the Geneva watchmaker’s long and established tradition of making fine chronograph pocket and wristwatches. The origins of the present watch may be traced back to Vacheron Constantin’s legendary wrist chronographs Ref. 4178, launched in 1940 and produced until 1964. Ref. 47101, and later Ref. 47111, inherited from Ref. 4178 its distinctive – and well known among collectors – fan-shaped lugs, and the harmonious layout of its dial with peripheral tachymeter scale and horizontal placement of the subsidiary dials. Thanks to this, Ref. 4178 is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful and refined chronographs ever made, and Ref. 47111 is perceived as the heir to its charisma.
The present example is definitely one of the finest and most attractive traditional hand-wound chronographs.
The dial of the present example is described as a ‘sigma dial’, meaning the inscription “Swiss” at the bottom of the dial is located between two small Greek sigma letters. The latter indicate the use of solid gold parts in the dial and are white gold appliques.
Ref. 47111 is fitted with the caliber 1140, finished to a high standard with hand decoration of all parts in traditional style, including chamfering, polishing, Côtes de Genève and Perlage for the bridges and mainplate. The steel parts of the chronograph mechanism are straight grinded. Caliber 1140 is a thoroughly re-worked Nouvelle Lémania 2310/2320 ebauche, which has been used by leading Swiss brands in their chronographs. The appearance of this mechanism in Vacheron Constantin wrist chronographs in 1989 was the beginning of a new stage in the development of the collection, when the brand received a high-class movement-blank, allowing both it and the watch created on its basis to be turned into true masterpieces of high watchmaking art.
Vacheron Constantin chronographs with calibers 1140/1141 are clearly underestimated, and they have everything needed to further increase in value, especially the refined platinum versions.
Since 1989, calibers 1140/1141 (and since 1991 their skeletonized versions), based on 2310/2320 ebauches, have been the basis for the launch of Vacheron Constantin’s excellent high-end chronographs in their Les Historiques, Malte and Patrimony Traditionnelle collections, including models with the addition of a perpetual calendar. Ref. 47101, chronographs without additional functions, were offered from 1989 to circa 1999 in 18k yellow gold or platinum with several dial options: matt silver plated, light champagne coloured, salmon, or matt black, sometimes embellished with guilloché. From 2000 to 2004, the brand replaced Ref. 47101 with Ref. 47111, a modification featuring a caseback attached by four screws instead of a snap-on caseback. We should note that in their 2001 catalogue, Vacheron Constantin designated the present reference as 47111/000P-7576, although the caseback rim of the present example is stamped with the reference number 47111/1. The options for the 47111 were the same as for the 47101, but it is worth noting that the 47111 uses a certain modification of the caliber 1140, with a distinctive Y-shaped chronograph bridge with neither a sharp nor rounded inner part, which may be described as “sharply-rounded”. This feature sometimes appears in Ref. 47101 chronographs (though very rarely) and therefore deserves a closer look.
The situation with Ref. 47111 chronographs in the current secondary market and auctions allows us to note that Vacheron Constantin chronographs with calibers 1140/1141 are clearly underestimated, and they have everything needed to further increase in value, especially the refined platinum versions.
Reasons to bid
Therefore, the present Vacheron Constantin Chronographe Historique Platinum Ref. 47111/1 would appear to be a fine purchase for the collector who seeks a refined traditional mechanical chronograph of a legendary and historically important classic design 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 technical characteristics of the caliber 1140, one of the most reliable and efficient chronograph movements with a hand-wound lateral clutch and column wheel, with excellent aesthetics. Chronograph Ref. 47111/1 will never lose its relevance, especially since the production of this watch has been discontinued, and the number of pieces produced was small compared to mass-produced self-winding chronographs. The present example features a platinum case of a signature design and Vacheron Constantin platinum half Maltese cross-shaped buckle that significantly increase the perceived value of the watch and underscore the aesthetic character of this model.