Here they are the last two models making up the amazing Tribute to the Great Explorers watches!
Launched in 2004 with dials representing the adventures of a particular explorer the first two were Zeng He and Magellan the new models represent Marco Polo (the Silk Route) and Christoper Columbus (the Discovery of America).
Each is made in 60 pieces in a YG case.
Below is the Press release of 2004 (I don't have the one for 2008 but it must be more or less the same)
VACHERON CONSTANTIN’S SALUTE TO FAMOUS EXPLORERS
A TECHNICAL FEAT IN THE FINEST TRADITION OF MECHANICAL HOROLOGY. A PATENTED MECHANISM PROVIDING AN ORIGINAL DISPLAY OF HOURS AND MINUTES ON A DIAL ENHANCED BY SOPHISTICATED ENAMELWORK
Wedding craftsmanship of the highest order and inventive horological techniques, this Patrimony design is dedicated to some of history’s foremost explorers and voyagers, four larger-than-life figures in the exploration of our planet. The Portuguese navigator Fernand de Magellan and the Chinese mariner Zheng He are the first two figures in the series to be saluted by Vacheron Constantin.
TIME FLIES… OVER THE DIAL
Since the exploits of the Patrimony’s eight explorers were anything but static, on “their” watches the hours are ever on the move. Travelling over land and sea, they fly over the enamelled expanses of a dial illustrating the part of the globe associated with each explorer’s name and achievements.
An extraordinary sight, made possible by a no less extraordinary – and of course exclusive – mechanical development under the dial. Building on a tried and tested selfwinding movement, this horological “complication” puts in play a series of truly original devices: broad rotating hour “crown” wheel, positioning fingerpieces and pivoting hour-figure-bearing satellites driven by Maltese crosses reminiscent of Vacheron Constantin’s long-established corporate symbol. Not a few watchmakers would doubtless be stunned at the sight—before applauding so remarkable an accomplishment.
A TWO-STOREY DIAL
This unusual Patrimony features a multicolored full-fired decorative enamel dial composed of two parts, one overhanging the other. The upper part shows an area of our planet associated with a particular explorer’s exploits. The lower one is a 132° strip forming the dial’s bottom arc. It bears the minute track over which twelve hour figures travel clockwise in turn. Reminiscent of the spectacular Mystery Watches of yore, this amazing construction constitutes a truly remarkable horological “complication”.
AN EXCEPTIONALLY CHALLENGING CRAFT
Oven-fired decorative enamelling in the grand style is anything but a pleasant, relaxing hobby. Enamellers tend to live in a world where the unexpected is the rule. In fact, few crafts make such demands on the nervous system as this exacting art.
An enameller usually begins by tracing the outlines of his subject on the workpiece with a sharp metal point. Then, dot after dot, he or she applies the appropriate enamel colors in a predetermined order. After each such application, the workpiece is placed in a kiln at a temperature of 700° to 800° C (1290° to 1470° Fahrenheit) and, once it has cooled, carefully smoothed down. The operation will be repeated for each and every application of enamel, returning to the kiln a good thirty times, perhaps more, at various temperatures and for varying lengths of time depending on the color and the quantity of enamel applied. Finally, the workpiece will be coated with transparent flux and fired one last time at about 900° (1650°F) before smoothing and final polishing.
The unexpected can occur at any point in the process, possibly ruining a week's painstaking work. Enamel is extremely brittle and unpredictable, requiring prudent and gradual cooling down to room temperature to avoid potentially destructive internal tensions that can cause the workpiece to shatter.
The Patrimony’s two-part dial posed a further challenge inasmuch as to ensure a perfect match both parts had to be enamelled, fired and finished in tandem – doubling both risk and satisfaction.
For centuries now, the finest Genevan watchmakers have prided themselves on their mastery of full-fired decorative enamelling. Today this delicate art is the province of a handful of masters, whose determination to perpetuate age-old traditional skills is nothing short of admirable. Vacheron Constantin is both grateful and proud to call on their art and talent for the execution of masterpieces such as the Patrimony and by the same token contribute to the preservation of their invaluable know-how.
A DEPENDABLE MOVEMENT FOR A FASCINATING “COMPLICATION”
Bringing to life the Patrimony’s fabulous dial is the tried and tested Vacheron Constantin caliber 1126AT selfwinding movement. It drives the patented mechanism of the watch’s groundbreaking “complication”, designed and developed by the company’s own horological engineers, that guides the hours in the explorers’ tracks.
The hour “crown” wheel’s three arms are each fitted with a satellite carrying four hour numerals whose position is controlled by a cam shaped like a Maltese cross. The “crown” wheel rotates so as to position in turn each of the satellites bearing the appropriate hour figure at the gap between the two parts of the dial. After the Maltese cross cam has caused the satellite to insert the correct hour figure in the dial gap, the hour “crown” wheel drives it clockwise during precisely one hour over the minute figures and guide marks inscribed on the lower part of the dial.
Delicately openworked, the finespun hour figures seem to glide over the dial, combining with minute track figures and guide marks to form the time of day. Arresting and unexpected, the effect has more than a touch of the poetic.
THE GLOBE RIMMED IN GOLD A simple 18K yellow gold bezel, 39 mm in diameter, encircles the part of the globe illustrated on the dial. Water-resistant to 30 meters (~ 100 feet), the case comes with a glareproofed, cambered sapphire crystal. A strap in alligator mississipiensis leather with 18K gold deployment buckle rounds out the Patrimony’s fittings.
Every single Patrimony wristwatch dedicated to famous explorers is housed in a solid wood presentation case that also holds a magnifying glass to allow its owner and his friends to admire the dial’s delicate enamelwork.
By definition, so challenging a work of art cannot but remain exclusive. Consequently, only two hundred forty watches dedicated to the four famous explorers will be produced, with all the painstaking skill and craftsmanship they demand, in the years ahead.
References 47070/000J-9076 and
Movement caliber 1126AT, selfwinding, with auxiliary mechanism controlling a cyclical display of mobile hour figures over a 120° strip of dial
Movement thickness 7,20 mm
Movement diameter 26.00 mm, or 11 1/2 lines
Movement jewelling 36
Frequency 28 800 v.p.h.
Power reserve 40 hours
Indications hours and minutes
Case 18K yellow gold, Ø 39 mm
Water resistance to 30 m (~ 100 feet)
Dial two-part 22K gold, with full-fired decorative enamelling entirely executed by hand in the traditional fashion
Strap hand-stitched brown alligator mississipiensis leather
Buckle 18K yellow gold deployment clasp
MARCO POLO (the Silk Route)
click on the smaller photos to have a full view
Christopher Columbus (Discovery of America)
Both models have a solid case back with an engraved rose wind