12/12/12 and the vintage 4178 chrono comes back into the collection

Ref 4178

bout 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 heart

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. 12/12/12 and the vintage 4178 chrono comes back into the collection

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 12/12/12 and the vintage 4178 chrono comes back into the collection) 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 smiley

My previous 4178 looked like this, the dial was very well remade

Ref 4178

And my new baby

Ref 4178

Ref 4178

Ref 4178

Ref 4178

12:12 on 12/12/12 cheeky
Ref 4178
12/12/2012 - 18:07
12/12/2012 - 18:09
12/12/2012 - 17:52
12/12/2012 - 19:45
12/13/2012 - 10:11
12/12/2012 - 22:45
12/13/2012 - 10:12
12/13/2012 - 20:18
12/14/2012 - 21:42
12/15/2012 - 09:54
12/16/2012 - 21:25
12/15/2012 - 21:27
12/16/2012 - 21:26
Congratulations.......what a beautifull watch
12/12/2012 - 13:38
Can you tell us the uneventful story of how you managed to find this watch!!!!
I bought it from a fellow collector but no weird story attached :-)
12/12/2012 - 17:58
Re: 12/12/12 and the vintage 4178 chrono comes back into the collection
12/12/2012 - 14:01
Beautiful! Congratulations, never part with this jewel. From your photos it looks like a three colour dial? A magnificently preserved watch. I really envy you! May it time only happy momemnts! Marko
the dial has 3 colors/textures. the outer dial is metallic, the minute
12/12/2012 - 18:00
rail track is white and the inner section is cream Thanks Marko
Alex, I was delighted this morning to read your post.
12/12/2012 - 15:36
This is wonderful news and I am trhilled for you.  I loved the story of your first 4178.  I have tried that lame response "It's not really new," as well, and I have had little success with it.  :-( Your first example looked wonderful.  Did you know going into the purchase that the dial had been redone or did you discover that after the fact?  I am looking at a watch right now that VC has confirmed for me the dial is not the original.  But one cannot always get that kind of information without sending it to VC for inspection.  Most of the time the VC Concierge (and Heritage Department) can tell us only if the case and movement numbers match as well as the date of manufacture and maybe a few other things, but nothing else until the watch is physically inspected by VC. Obviously you were not satisfied with the redone dial, so this is a concern. Congratulations on your amazing catch. Keep this one on your wrist man! Best always, Robert 
Congrats Alex! Very Beautiful chrono!
12/12/2012 - 15:41
Congrats Alex. This is such a beautiful chrono! Love your story on this one. I love chronos (more their movement than the dial to be honest) but as mentioned, have such small wrists that not many modern chronos match my wrist. The closest fit I have found is the 39.5mm Mont Blanc Villeret Pulsography which has a beautiful Minerva (now Mont Blanc) 13.21 tradtionally made movement with a beautiful case and enamel dial but still, something about the pulsograph dial design did not fully make it for me and the size is just slightly too big for me. I may need to patiently hunt for a vintage chrono like yourself too! Anyway, wear that watch in the best of health! It looks fantastic on your wrist! cheers robin wong
Thanks Robin, vintage chronos pop up once ina while and I'll be
12/12/2012 - 18:05
posting some new ones in the Collectors Corner of the Club soon. believe me these vinatge VC chronos are just sublime heart
Thanks Robert, when I bought the 1st one I knew the dial was
12/12/2012 - 18:03
redone albeit very well but it was also priced accordingly. I started longing for an original dial because I see so many beautiful vintage pieces with the original dial that I just felt that my life would not be the same if I didn't have a4178 with the original dial indecision In general if the dial is well redone it is pretty complicated to recognize it as such
Re: 12/12/12 and the vintage 4178 chrono comes back into the collection
12/12/2012 - 15:51
A great story about a great passion Alex. I can't decide which I prefer, the Roman numerals or the Arabic ones, so I'll take one of each (LOL). Both are lovely! You are very fortunate indeed to have found such a rare beauty with the original dial in such great condition. Wear it in the best of health, always. Best regards, Joseph
merci Joseph, I may be having a Romans coming my way soon ;-)
12/12/2012 - 18:06
Fantastic watch, wonderful story.
12/12/2012 - 16:01
I wish you many happy hours with you new companion. Thanks for taking the time to tell the story and taking these lovely photos. Yours sincerely Kent
Thank you Kent
12/12/2012 - 18:07
I'm not particularly into numerology, but
12/12/2012 - 17:07
I am into chronometry and it happens to be my birthday, so I had to capture the proper second as well: Besides the six 12s (year/month/date/hour/minute/second) it is also my year according to Chinese astrology.
Happy Birthday Dan!
12/12/2012 - 17:29
Now go to bed laugh
ok :-( ;-) (Thanks Dean!) (nt)
12/13/2012 - 02:03
Re: I'm not particularly into numerology, but
12/12/2012 - 18:47
Actually Dan, The only recent year that a reciprocal date was last November (Rememberance day in Canada) 11/11/11 12/12/12 when written backwards is: 21/21/21 (LOL) devilcryingcool Joseph
To be 21 again, with the knowledge and experience of today...
12/13/2012 - 02:05
I'd be "King of the World"  :-) Thanks JB!  BR, Dan
Happy Birthday Dragon!
12/12/2012 - 22:22
As a Dragon "tail" - it is about time to give it up to the Snake!
12/13/2012 - 02:10
Thanks Tim!
Your new 4178's dial is mesmorizing!
12/12/2012 - 17:16
That is a great 12-12-12 story.  Can you describe more about the dial, I love the grey/metallic look in the center!
Thanks dan, please see my reply to Marko above re the dial
12/12/2012 - 18:07
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous
12/12/2012 - 17:37
But you are still teasing Alex devil...wonderful case, lugs and dial pictures, but where is the movement?  That is an awesome dial heart.  Your wrist shot shows how the lugs of vintage V&C gave it a presence, as it doesn't suggest being a "small" watch at all.  LOL, great story too - very familiar in all aspects wink.  To borrow a phrase...may it time nothing but happy moments!
Thanks Dean I didn't dare take the back off for a photo. Will do soon
12/12/2012 - 18:08
Gorgeous - The dial is in great shape!
12/12/2012 - 17:44
Congratulations Alex!
Thank you Michael :-)
12/12/2012 - 18:09
Great dial on that 4178!
12/12/2012 - 17:52
Vintage VC chronos just have this inimitable je nais se quois about them...love it!
So good to see you here david! thanks for the kind words
12/12/2012 - 18:09
Enfin, il était temps !
12/12/2012 - 19:45
Very nice dial ! Congrats ! Berny
Thanks berny, I'm still drooling on the dial of yours :-)
12/13/2012 - 10:10
Cousins ?
12/14/2012 - 19:21
Definitely family!
12/15/2012 - 11:20
Like most nice things they're not caught easily...
12/12/2012 - 21:25
Alex, it's a beauty! No wonder you feel like shouting from the roof-topsyes. Well worth the wait and sharing the prize. Hopefully you've sorted-out the credit card company - well at least until the next hiccupwink. It really does suit you! Tony
Thank you sir :-)
12/13/2012 - 10:11
Elegance and great class
12/12/2012 - 22:45
Congratulations Alexandre +++ A piece of a real collector, in a good home. Enjoy it for a long long time. Warm regards, Liger
merci mon ami
12/13/2012 - 10:12
Re: 12/12/12 and the vintage 4178 chrono comes back into the collection
12/13/2012 - 01:37
Gorgeous watch and funny story Alex - thanks.   That's a great idea too - I currently have a scan of a 2755 platinum/grey on my wrist and it looks great !! 
I guess augmented reality could have a great future for us watch geeks
12/13/2012 - 10:12
Reunited and it feels so good! Really a wonderful
12/13/2012 - 02:01
watch and great story of course. I am thinking you will need an extra strap or two for the seasons. A nice tan for Spring and something with a little texture for Summer. Remember to keep a beauty happy, you must provide the wardrobe. Best sir, Tim
you sure know how to treat a woman Tim :-)
12/13/2012 - 10:13
OMG - that dial is absolutely stunning!
12/13/2012 - 04:19
Congratulations, Alex - what a great score. I'm thrilled for you! Can't wait to see it in person. Best, Paul
Thanks Paul, I guess we'll see eachother at SIHH?
12/13/2012 - 10:13
Congrats, Alex
12/13/2012 - 20:18
and thank you for reprinting this story about your first 4178. I enjoy it just as much today as when I first read damn near 10 years ago! Bill
you're the responsible party!!!
12/14/2012 - 10:28
So nice to be able to make your dreams come true...
12/13/2012 - 20:27
really happy for you, my friend congrats on the new piece and may it time only rightly boiled eggscheeky
LOL, even witha chrono I manage to screw up my eggs!
12/14/2012 - 10:29
The new baby is
12/14/2012 - 21:42
plying in an other division, than it's forerunner, but NOTHING beats the original story!!! The most funny thing you ever produced, my friend laugh yes Cheers and Merry & Happy etc heart Doc
Thank you Doc :-)
12/15/2012 - 09:54
Well done Alex, and a great story! (nt)
12/15/2012 - 16:20
Thanks Gary
12/16/2012 - 21:25
Congratulations Alex
12/15/2012 - 21:27
I finally found time to read the whole story ! 4178 is fantastic, an emblematic and beautiful watch. this dial looks great! cheers Francois
Merci François
12/16/2012 - 21:26