A very rare, elegant, and attractive yellow gold chronograph wristwatch of the famous Swiss watch brand Vacheron Constantin, founded in 1755. Produced in 1992. Case made of 18k yellow gold, diameter 35mm, 10mm thick, rectangular chronograph pushpieces, winding crown with embossed Maltese cross, solid-gold caseback. White matt ‘sigma’ dial with recessed counters, yellow gold hands, applied yellow gold indexes, minute/seconds markers and tachymeter scale around a slightly elevated outer rim. Caliber 1136, self-winding, power reserve up to 40 hours. Functions – indication of time in hours and minutes, small seconds hand at 6 o’clock, chronograph with central seconds hand, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock, date indicator at 6 o’clock. Brown leather strap, Vacheron Constantin half Maltese cross-shaped 18k yellow gold pin buckle. 

Lot essay 

Chronograph Ref. 49002 from the Les Historiques (Historiques) collection was launched by Vacheron Constantin in 1991–1992 as a tribute to the classic vintage design of the 4072 and 6026 wrist chronographs produced by the brand in the 1950s. In particular, Ref. 49002 reproduces the characteristic design of a round case with elongated, gently tapering lugs, and a silver-plated dial with a tachymeter scale, applied stick indices and stick hands. Although the historical prototypes were equipped with traditional manual-winding, column-wheel and lateral-clutch calibers (such as those supplied by Lémania), Vacheron Constantin chose for the Les Historiques Ref. 49002 edition the modern self-winding caliber 1136, which is a personalized Frédéric Piguet 1185 column-wheel and vertical clutch movement. The self-winding caliber fuses the classic look of a high-end traditional chronograph wristwatch with the ability to use it as a daily wearer. 

The reference remained in the catalogues until 1997, and reports production of approximately 700 pieces in yellow gold and 130 pieces in platinum. Mostly they were completed with white matte dials, while it is likely that a small part of the issue had white enamel dials. In addition, offers images of models in yellow gold with a black dial, and in platinum with a pink ‘salmon’ dial. However, most of the production run was equipped with a classic silver-plated dial. 

The present example belongs to an early and very rare Type1.

Our research shows that over the entire production span, three generations of reference 49002 were produced, differing in the execution of the dial and the solid gold caseback. Thus, the Type1 watch, most likely the earliest, is distinguished by the inscription “Automatic” adjacent to the small seconds sub-dial, while the hour counter is marked with 1-hour divisions. The caseback does not have an engraved logo, but only hallmarks and the case number (usually of series 628xxx) stamped. A very rare reference 49002 Type2 differs from Type1 by the presence of half-hour divisions of the hour counter (unfortunately, we could not find a photo of the caseback of Type2). Most likely the Type2 case numbers were from the 631xxx series. Finally, the reference 49002 Type3 received a dial with “Automatic”, moved out (raised) from the small seconds sub-dial, and an hour counter with half-hour divisions, while on the caseback, in addition to the hallmarks and case number, an engraved logo with a Maltese cross appears. The Type3 case numbers were from the 631xxx and 641xxx series. Of these varieties, the 49002 Type3 is the most common. 

The present example belongs to an early and very rare Type1.

Reasons to bid 

The now long-discontinued reference 49002 is seen as a very attractive collectible. This is facilitated by the modest and well-thought-out late Art-deco classic design style, typical for Vacheron Constantin at its best, with high-quality workmanship, small production volume and the presence of three types of execution and attractive varieties. This topic still requires further research, which always attracts the discerning collector. Therefore, the Les Historiques Chronograph Ref. 49002/000J-3 Type1 would appear to be a fine purchase for the collector who seeks a very rare and attractive mechanical chronograph watch, considered as one of the great classics of chronograph design, and produced by a world-famous traditional watch brand, one of the market leaders in haute horlogerie and complicated timepieces.