About 10 years ago I bought my first vintage Vacheron Constantin chronograph Ref 4178 in yellow gold, I loved it but ended up selling it a couple of years ago because the dial was redone. Recently I managed to find one with a gorgeous original dial and today Dec 12 2012 at 12:12 a new ref 4178 graces my wrist again
The purchase of this new model was rather uneventful but here's the story of my original purchase which still gives me a cold sweat:
WHAT?!!!! another new watch!! she yelled at me no sooner had I walked through the door proudly wearing my new watch.
" Well its not really new I lamely replied, its THE Vacheron Constantin of my dreams, a vintage tear drop lug chronograph dating from the 40s.
Well believe it or not, that did it, I took the watch off my wrist to show it to her and I was very sorry since she found it so beautiful that she wanted to wear it herself!
Lets go back in time to the early 2000s. This is mostly Bill's fault! Bill is my friend Bill Lind the VC moderator on PuristsPro. He had posted scans of his beautiful VC 40s tear drop lug chrono on the net and after having exchanged private emails he had convinced me that my life would not be complete without a vintage VC chronograph.
Well, the hunt began but where the hell could I have found one of these watches? I hadn't seen a single one in vintage stores or even in auctions for the past few years!! Remember this is in 2002-2003 BEFORE vintage VCs came under the spotlight and not many appeared on the secondary markets.
I must admit that never had I searched so hard and avidly for a watch, I contacted every vintage watch dealer I knew, spent hours on the net trying to find vintage watch dealers who could help me and invariably the same answer it's a beautiful watch, very hard to find. Sorry we can't be of any help!
I couldn't believe this, was I doomed? Was my only choice sticking a scan of Bills watch on my wrist and running the risk of having the true time only twice a day?
To calm my hunger, that summer, I bought a simple three hand vintage VC with tear drop lugs, it was beautiful and gave me great pleasure to wear but it wasn't a satisfactory replacement. The hunger was returning and I needed that watch badly!!
On a trip to London that year the meeting I was to attend ended much earlier than expected, so I decided to go for a walk until departure time. While strolling the streets I noticed a vintage watch shop and walked in and instantly froze!!
There SHE was, waiting for me right on a tray: a yellow gold VC tear drop lug vintage chrono. I tried to spring on it but no sooner had I reached the counter that the salesman was showing it to a client.
I thought of my younger days when I practiced meditation and managed to stabilize my heartbeat, if not I think I would have had either a heart attack or would have been convicted of murder on both the salesperson and the potential client for having taken so long.
Thank God finally the client walked away, nothing could now stand in our way, she would be mine and I would be hers!
Not trying to look too interested I used my most nonchalant manner and asked to see the watch.
not bad I told the clerk. NOT BAD? Have I gone mad? My hands were trembling and I was perspiring in anticipation. This watch was gorgeous, in absolute perfect condition and most of all a perfect 36mm diameter.
We negotiated the price and I got a very generous 0% discount (so much for my negotiation skills ) but I just couldn't let her go. My credit card came flying out of my wallet without my having noticed that I had even reached for it!
The clerk thanked me and filled the necessary papers but needed a confirmation from the credit card company. After a few minutes of waiting on the phone the answer came: Refused!!
Oh God, please let me die, I cannot take this anymore. What have I done to deserve this?
try again I squealed through my teeth in a voice which reminded me of the girl in the Exorcists.
I'm sorry sir but it doesn't go through. Sorry ? I’ll show you what sorry is you ?$>&*`% twit once I eat your heart !!!! How could he remain so calm while I was burning in hell?
Finally he accepted to put the watch away for me and I would arrange for the funds to be wired to him.
The first thing I did when I got home was to call my bank and make sure that they wanted me to die in horrible sufferings due to my credit card catastrophe, then I asked them to wire the funds to the dealer.
After a couple of days (where I aged at least 10 years) the dealer calls me up and lets me know that the funds had arrived and that he would send the watch over right away.
He emailed me the tracking number an I think I spent over 5 hours on the FedEx web site just to follow the status of the package.
The next day the watch arrived and I literally tore the package apart to take out MY watch!! It was gorgeous, so perfect, so gentle, so harmonious.
I spent a couple of years without a 4178 and I really missed it, it had given me such great pleasure wearing and it remains in my book one of the most gorgeously perfect chronographs ever made and as of today I'm once again a happy owner
My previous 4178 looked like this, the dial was very well remade
And my new baby
12:12 on 12/12/12