This is the second of the two watches I purchased in Paris last December.
It is a Reference 7409 from 1975. This model is not uncommon and utilizes the wonderful Cal. 1120 movement. However the watch is quite unique in a number of ways.
It has a non-adjustable deployant buckle, a lovely design which I believe was only used for a relatively short period of time because it required a custom-made strap for the purchaser’s wrist. But the customized nature of this watch points to a early form of Atelier Cabinotier as I will describe later.
There are some excellent photos of the Reference 7409 in the link below, posted a few years ago by Kent (KBS) in which, among other things, the thin nature of the case is well demonstrated.
However, like most examples of this reference, the dial is plain.
The dial on the example below is highly decorated. When I first saw the watch, I thought initially that dial had been made of some lacquered papyrus. I was struck by its almost shimmering nature, with light and dark area appearing and disappearing as the light striking the face changed. But on looking at the dial more closely, I concluded that the dial had been guillochéd. How else to provide the finely lined grooved pattern?
The examples below of some Vacheron pocket watches from the 19th century show examples of early guillochage including the “rayures de soleil” and “rayures de gloire” designs. Some of these watches also used the flinqué technique in which the guilloche (usually concentric circles) is then covered by a clear lacqueur or enamel.
The main difference with my 7409 was that the lines on the dial had some features which could not be easily explained by the guilloche technique. The lines were irregular in direction and curvature causing criss-crossing at many points. They show variable depths of cut and sometimes seemed to fade away completely.
When I showed the watch to Vincent Kaufmann at dinner at SIHH, he told me that the dial had been engraved, rather than guillochéd. Now this to me was a formidable accomplishment since it would have been done by hand od manually directed by some engraving device, rather than by a rose engine.
It certainly would be interesting to know the history of the watch…was it custom ordered, was it engraved by hand and by whom? It is a very unusual dial and the only one I have ever seen with such a dial showing this “free-hand” engraving. It does make me wonder whether the original purchaser consulted with Vacheron directly about what he wanted on the dial. It is interesting to speculate.
But I present the photos of the watch for your pleasure and enjoyment.
(Unfortunately, the low resolution of the images that the VC server allows prevents good visualisation of the dial patterns except those under higher magnification)
Two photos of the non-adjustable deployant
The following three photos show the variability in the line pattern and direction, their variable depth of cut and the variagated pattern created.
Alex, any chance of finding out a little more about this watch?
Purchased : Dec. 19, 1975