1st live photos of VC's most complicated pocket watch: The King Farouk

After photos seen only in books and catalogues (or at the NY exhibition last year) finally here are some live scans of the elusive King Farouk watch, which since 1994 has been secretly kept in a private collection.

I had the immense pleasure to see and hear the watch which is nothing short of astounding being Vacheron Constantin's most complicated pocket watch.

In 1914 Vacheron Constantin started working on 3 ultra complicated pocket watches with perpetual calendar, split seconds chronograph and petite and grande sonnerie amongst other complications. The 1st two were the Boisrouvray and the King Fouad. The most complicated belonging to Fouad's son, Farouk of Egypte.

Completed in 1934 this 12 complication watch features:

Minute repeater
Grande Sonnerie
Petite Sonnerie
Split Seconds Chronograph
Day
Date
Month
Leap year indicator
Perpetual Calendar
Moonphase
Alarm
Power reserve for going train and sonnerie 


During a trip to Geneva in 1937 King Farouk of Egypt insisted on visiting the Vacheron Constantin manufactory, Charles Constantin acting as his guide on the tour confessed his surprise at the breadth of the young (17 at the time) prince's knowledge of watchmaking. "But Monsieur Constantin" he replied "I dismantled so many watches when I was a child...unfortunately for them...!" Thank goodness that he did not dismantle the outstanding watch presented to him by the Genevan authorities during an official visit in 1935 (that makes him 15 at the time!!!!!!!!!)

This 80mm behemoth, which took over 6 years to manufacture, features 13 hands and the calibre has no less than 820 components and one of only two grande complications featuring an alarm. It was manufactured between 1930 and 1935 and purchased by Boulent Raoul to be presented to King Farouk of Egypt. 

Vacheron Constantin Farouk Repeater

Vacheron Constantin Farouk Repeater

Vacheron Constantin Farouk Repeater

Vacheron Constantin Farouk Repeater

1st live photos of VC's most complicated pocket watch: The King Farouk

Vacheron Constantin Farouk Repeater

1st live photos of VC's most complicated pocket watch: The King Farouk
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breathtaking, Alex! Unlike young prince I'd definitely need a tutorial
05/21/2012 - 15:59
to be able to fully explore and use the machine's all functions... makes you wanna buy a pocket watchcool
Well, I guessed right
05/21/2012 - 16:27
but It never crossed my mind that it was THAT watch......
Re: 1st live photos of VC's most complicated pocket watch: The King Farouk
05/21/2012 - 17:58
I can't get Casio out of either King or Farouk....but I can out of Constantin. Do I win a prize!? Seriously though, what a beautiful thing. I am sorry I missed it at the NY Boutique. Can it be seen still, going forwards? Many thanks for the 'real' photos. G
Casio.... Cairo!!! The Farouk was exhibited for about a week last
05/21/2012 - 18:01
year during the inauguration of the NY boutique. It has since gone back to its owner
Yes, I was dumb, but I got it once Bill intervened..
05/21/2012 - 18:06
Thanks.. G
The Holy Trinity of VC Pocket Watches
05/22/2012 - 21:40
Yes, it was quite overwhelming to see the Farouk, the Fouad and the Packard together at the NYC Boutique.  I got to handle the Packard, but the other two remained in their cases.  The sizes are impressive and the weights almost oppresive.  Perhaps they had servants to carry them around!
Re: 1st live photos of VC's most complicated pocket watch: The King Farouk
05/21/2012 - 18:05
What an astounding watch! I did see it in New York but it was in a case so I never did see the movement. One's jaw drops at the complexity. Given the time it was made, its truly a marvel of design, engineering and manufacturing excellence. A real chef d'oeuvre! Given the era in which it was made makes it even more impressive. JB
80mm OMG!
05/22/2012 - 04:16
That is a big watch!  Wonder what it weighs; a kilo or more?  Stretches the term "pocket" watch; perhaps we have a new category of "pouch" watch wink.  Sorry that I dismissed the Farouk earlier, but did you manage to find out the thickness of this horological wonder?  Hey, another clue might have been its photo Reference Number - 3449.
unfortunately don't have the thickness but it didn't seem abnormally
05/22/2012 - 17:11
thick
Watch Porn
05/22/2012 - 18:53
Well for those that enjoy the 18th century writings of Donatien Alphonse François, here is an excerpt from the Art of Vacheron Constantin auction catalog describing the anatomy of this watch is salacious detail devil. Unique extra large, 18 ct. , gold, keyless minute repeating "Grande and Petite sonnerie" moon phase astronomical clock-watch (ah ha, that is the term) with perpetual calendar, split seconds chronograph with 30 minute instantaneous recorder and alarm, with power reserve indicators for both the going and the striking trains, in original mahogany fitted box.Case. Four body, massive, "pomme et grande gouge", polished. Gold cuvette.Dial. Gold, frosted and gilt with Breguet numerals, outer chronograph ring, subsidiary dials for days of the week with inner 30 hour going train up-and -down scale, the dates with inner moon phase aperture and running seconds.  Blued steel "spade" hands.Movement. 23''', rhodium plated, "fausses cotes" decoration, three trains with differential winding, the alarm train wound by means of a slide in the band, 55 jewels, straight line lever escapement, brass-invar Guillaume balance, micrometric index Swiss patent No. 101562.  Striking and repeating on gongs, the repeating detent in the band, "Grande/Petite sonnerie" and "Strike/Silent" nibs in the band.  Split seconds chronograph with visible work, button on the winding crown and push piece in the band. Signed on the dial, case and movement.  In perfect condition.  Diameter 80 mm. Again, WOW!!
a man of resource Dean :-) when will you join VC's heritage dept?
05/22/2012 - 19:55
r
For those interested...
05/23/2012 - 03:12
The cover of "The World of Vacheron Constantin" features this watch. In addition there are some very interesting magnified photos (macro) of the dial and various parts of the movement. (B&W only, I'm afraid) on pp. 274-279 with another photo on page 400 along with a smaller pocket watch similar in appearance but smaller encasing a tourbillon and perp. calendar but no repeater. JB
slight correction, the World of VC's cover has the...
05/23/2012 - 11:11
Boisrouvray The tourbillon PW you refer to features:Split seconds chronograph Day Date Month Leap year indicator Perpetual calendar Moonphase Tourbillon Power reserve indicator Made in 1932 this piece is the only multi complication pocket watch by Vacheron Constantin featuring a tourbillon. Its regulation was entrusted to Edmond Olivier who was not only a master watchmaker but a true artist in regulation of movements sent for Observatory trials. One of the particularities of this piece results from the fact that watch’s accuracy is not adversely affected when the chronograph is functionning. In 1934 it obtained 1st prize at the Geneva Observatory trials and in 1939 it was presented at the National Swiss Exhibition in Zurich. 
Thanks Alex
05/23/2012 - 15:13
Of course you are correct. Its interesting though that both were made about the same time and infact according to the archive photos in the book have consecutive model numbers 3450 (1932) for the tourbillion and 3449 (1934) for the Farouq. VC was certainly on a role! Joseph
More watch porn...
05/23/2012 - 18:25
Oh Alex, thank-you for sharing these exciting pictures!  Olivier had magic hands and a certificate with his name is one of my prize possessions heart.  Do you happen to know 6450's trial results?
some more porn
05/23/2012 - 18:57
I'll check re results
and even more: Tourbillon movement from 30s recased in 90s for Asprey
05/23/2012 - 19:01
An interesting story...
05/23/2012 - 20:13
Absolutely beautiful watch and for me the movement is the real story.  According to the auction notes, this movement was presented at the 1949 Neuchatel Observatory trials and obtained a phenomenal 922 points which was enough for the First Prize.  Regleur was Urbain Brahier. The 22-ligne movement design itself originated at the Le Sentier Horological School ca.1930.  Aside from the expected Guillaume balance, it had many other unique features and was physically very elegant, which led Vacheron & Constantin to select it as their representative for most Observatory trials of the 1940s and 50s. Several of these movements were kept in storage until the 1980s, when a few were cased for sale.  Antiquorum has featured two; one in 2003 (and again in 2005) and another in 1992.
It looks a lot like the JLC calibre 170...
05/24/2012 - 18:59
The JLC calibre 170 was the winner of the1941 Neuchatel Observatory. Certainly one of the finest tourbillons ever created in every aspect possible. Regards, Mike
Half Watch Half Amazing
05/23/2012 - 23:40
What a piece of horology and history. Thanks Alex for sharing and to its owner for let us see it !