Another Recent Acquisition

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.

http://www.thehourlounge.com/en/vacheron-constantin-discussions/retailer...

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.

Another Recent Acquisition

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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)

Another Recent Acquisition

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Two photos of the non-adjustable deployant

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The following three photos show the variability in the line pattern and direction, their variable depth of cut and the variagated pattern created.

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Alex, any chance of finding out a little more about this watch?

Movement: 620051

Case: 4455825

Modey:7409 YG

Purchased : Dec. 19, 1975

What a lovely, lovely watch, Joseph
05/25/2015 - 20:24

The dial is simply gorgeous.  You are right in that it has the look of papyrus. 

It is a beautiful example of something VC (or in this case V&C) does exceedingly well: the simple time-only watch.

The clasp on yours is exactly like the one on my Prestige de la France. 

Enjoy this "simple" pleasure.

Best regards,

Robert 

Re: What a lovely, lovely watch, Joseph
05/27/2015 - 15:15

Thank you Robert.

Those buckles were probably VC'sfirst attempt at deployants. I have no idea how long they were produced. They are really sweet and an elegant design but having to get a custom strap is a pain.

Enjoy yours!

Joseph

Hi Joseph. A real beauty. It looks like a large fingerprint under
05/25/2015 - 21:30

magnification and must have been done by hand. I hope Alex can shed more light on the history.

What is the diameter of the watch?

The deployant is also very interesting. Is it comfortable too?

 

Best to all,

Tim

Re: Hi Joseph. A real beauty. It looks like a large fingerprint under
05/27/2015 - 15:19

Hi Tim,

I hope all is well.

The "fingerprint" look of the dial occurred to me too when I saw it under magnification. But the first thing that I noticed and at first thought it was an optical illusion, was the translucency of the dial. It reall looked as if it were made of paper! You could't rally see the etched grooved and I had no idea how VC created that effect. It is a brilliant concept and the effect can be a bit mesmerizing.

The buckle is quite comfotable. You don't really feel it at all.

Best,

Joseph

Gorgeous!
05/26/2015 - 01:32

What a superb example with such a special dial.  And thanks too for illustrating the mix of old and new iconography with the & and SWISS MADE appearing together, it was discussed over the weekend.

Re the unique dial engraving, I vaguely recall one similar on a tri-gold watch with matching design on case, dial, and bracelet.  Does this ring a bell with anyone?

Re: Gorgeous!
05/27/2015 - 15:21

Hi Dean,

Thank you for the kind words.

I had never seen a design like this one before. All the guillochéd dials had a symmetrical pattern although some with engraved decorations may have had some hand work involved.

But I suspect it's a lost art now.

Best,

Joseph

Re: Another Recent Acquisition
05/26/2015 - 01:58

Wow, beautiful piece :D congratulations on the new addition what a fine timepiece :)

Re: Re: Another Recent Acquisition
05/27/2015 - 15:23

Thank you, Rogi.

I was very fortunate to have seen it. It was one of those rare watches that was immediately appealing and that I felt was destined to be on my wrist. smiley

Best,

Joseph

having seen the watch in the flesh I can say that the dial is anything short of
05/26/2015 - 10:09

extraordinary

Re: having seen the watch in the flesh I can say that the dial is anything short of
05/27/2015 - 15:24

Thank you, Alex.

I am very pleased with it. it is a centre-piece of my collection.

Would you have any more info on it?

Many thanks,

Joseph

I remember seeing this watch in person in January!
05/26/2015 - 10:19

The dial really is amazing, you have to look at it under a loupe to really appreciate the details.  Pictures just don't cut it.  Congrats JB!

I remember seeing this watch in person in January!

Re: I remember seeing this watch in person in January!
05/27/2015 - 15:26

Thank you, Dan

Your photo really has captured the enved dial perfectly.

I can just imagine the long hours and the crossed eyes in engraving this dial by hand!

BR,

Joseph

That really is remarkable
05/26/2015 - 13:54

I, too, wonder at the story that watch has to tell.  What a beautiful piece.  One can only imagine at the time and effort to engrave that.  Stunning.  And has the 1120 beating inside as well.  Great find!

Re: That really is remarkable
05/27/2015 - 16:07

Thanks Jaimie,

Pure luck! Being at the right place at the right time smiley

Best,

Joseph

the dial left me speechless when we discovered this incredible vintage
05/26/2015 - 20:42

model together.

The combination with your new custom made strap is perfect.

Enjoy this UNIQUE "fingerprint" dial created by a fabulous Artist. 

I hope Alex could know more about this "garde-temps": A Cabinotiers command?

Best regards,

Liger

 

Re: the dial left me speechless when we discovered this incredible vintage
05/27/2015 - 16:09

And thank you, Liger for taking me to Antoine's. I'm glad we were able to discover this timepiece together.

If it had not been for you, I probably would not have gone there smiley

All the best,

Joseph

thanks JB for showing me this watch during our GTG
05/27/2015 - 00:32

As Dan and Alex said, this dial is just drop dead gorgeous in person.  Photos just can't capture the feeling when you gaze at the watch

Wear in the best of health

 

 

Re: thanks JB for showing me this watch during our GTG
05/27/2015 - 16:11

Thanks Joe,

It was a pleasure meeting you and having a wonderful lunch. I'm very pleased you enjoyed the watch. It really is a once in a lifetime find.

I look forward to seeing you again soon.

BR,

Joseph

Well worth waiting for...
05/28/2015 - 21:00

Joseph, I have read your notes with extreme interest and enjoyed looking through your selection of photographs. 

This is a very attractive and desirable timepiece which clearly holds a number of unanswered questions. As more information comes to light do please let us know.

No wonder you are so pleased with this beauty - how you've managed to keep this under wraps for so long is remarkable!

Seeing this in the flesh is a must  -  (?)

Thank you for the excellent shots - you took some trouble getting those 'right' and it shows yes...

Best wishes

Tony

Re: Well worth waiting for...
05/29/2015 - 16:56

Thank you for your kind words, Tony.

Hopefully I will be able to show it to you in the near future.

Best,

Joseph