Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

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.



TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS


References 47070/000J-9076 and
47070/000J-9084
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

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Christopher Columbus (Discovery of America)

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

Both models have a solid case back with an engraved rose wind

Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models

08/04/2008 - 23:54
YEEES! Gorgeous both of them! Long live the Lounge and thanks for
08/04/2008 - 17:21

bringing us such exclusive information

Tribute to the Great Explorers model
08/04/2008 - 17:29

Amazing!!!

A wonderful choice of explorers and a beautiful execution of the concept. Really, really lovely.

I'll take two !

VC has really produced  two magnificent successors to this line of watches.

Well done indeed!

Joseph

Very Nice pictures, I really do no know wich I prefer (nt)
08/04/2008 - 18:03

.

Thanks Alex!! Both are great designs!
08/04/2008 - 18:27

I think I prefer the Columbus (I am probably partial to ships) but the Marco Polo is probably more legible (as the arabics are on a white background more or less).  BTW, were there any technical improvements in between releases, or are we just looking at new dials?  At any rate, great work VC!  More great pieces that I will never be able to afford, hahaha!

Cheers!

kazumi

no modifications have been made to the movement (nt)
08/05/2008 - 16:16

e

Great watches! I can see big collectors
08/04/2008 - 18:46

already fighting to get one! I wish I were on of them...Thanks Alex!

Two great watches but my favorite...
08/04/2008 - 21:50

is the Carribean one.

The Asia one is "just" one block compared to the other with the islands, Florida, central and south America. Much more contrast in this one.

The only thing that bothers me is the slope of Central America. It doesn't reflect the reality even at that time when it was described on the old map.

I agree with Mercator
08/04/2008 - 23:54

although the slope of Central America doesn't look weird to me. Btw, would it be possible to see the maps the designers have worked with ?? It would be really interesting.

Thanks Alex!!

not my cup of tea buy great workmanship nt
08/04/2008 - 23:02

nt

Thank you Alex for giving us this wonderful overview!
08/04/2008 - 23:53

Great pieces, and difficult to choose.

What would be nice is to put together, side by side, the four Great Explorers watches.

Thank you Alex. I would like to have them both but feel I must
08/05/2008 - 06:09

ask. What is the list price? And the crushing question; what is the lead time? Really beautiful work that you just can't stop looking at and admiring.

Best to all,

Tim

list price is...
08/05/2008 - 12:20

$79k

So I guess I should just decide on one, eh?
08/06/2008 - 06:34

e

As long as its not the Marco Polo 'caus I want one :-) (nt)
08/06/2008 - 11:49

e

Thanks Alex, both dials are magnificent, and
08/05/2008 - 15:15

the case work in perfection. I like having the rose pattern on the case back...nice finish touch.  Do you know when V&C will begin to ship them?

John

they should be available starting Sept/Oct this year (nt)
08/05/2008 - 16:06

e

My favorite new Explorer is Christopher Columbus...
08/05/2008 - 16:14

The price is a killer though.

I like the art... but not the price and the little soldier guy...
08/05/2008 - 19:07

 on the american continent, who looks like an 18th century (english?) soldier of some kind... Why didn't they represent something closer to a native american?

the artwork is phenomenal.... absolutely no doubt about that.

I find it funny that the press release talks about "the finest Genevan watchmakers have prided themselves on their mastery of full-fired decorative enamelling", knowing that the guy and his wife are from Belgium.

boy, those prices sure are getting a little crazy... That's one watch off my list , but I'd love to have one though... probably the one of christopher colombus if there wasn't that little soldier guy there.

the soldier prettymuch looks like a Native American to me! regarding
08/05/2008 - 19:15

the price I understand that the price in Swiss francs is slightly higher than the first versions but the great hike in $ is due to the exchange rate

here's a blown up picture of the character, looks like a
08/06/2008 - 11:51

Native American to me, looks like he's holding a bow

oh oh... mea culpa...
08/07/2008 - 07:20

crap... next time I keep my mouth shut.

Let's be civilized about this and forget about the whole incident, shall we?

OK. done. forgotten.

Re: I like the art... but not the price and the little soldier guy...
08/05/2008 - 19:54

Hi Nico,

Its hard to tell who or what he is. Could be native American or a Spaniard.

But I think they should have included the island of Curacao where Columbus landed and found a cure (curacao) for scurvy.

Regards,

Joseph

Re: Re: I like the art... but not the price and the little soldier guy...
08/06/2008 - 00:32

OK, might be a native american... maybe. need someone to really tell us, my eyes aren't so good

I thought (if my memory of school lessons is still good) that scurvy was really cured about 2 centuries later (ie: 18th). I know there are a few people once they got to the americas and started eating fruit who were cured of scurvy, but nobody really knew why... we need some historian out here.

still, nice watch, definitely something nice to look at...

Curacao
08/06/2008 - 04:48

Well the story is that on the way over, several of the seamen developed scurvy. Columbus dropped them off on what is now Curacao to fend for themselves and/or die. I guess at that time they didn't know whether it was contagious. They certainly didn't know what caused it!

When he was on the way back to Spain, he stopped there only to find the sailors had survived and recovered. The island was then named "Curacao" or "the cure". But I don't think they realized that it was the fruit that saved them. They may have loaded up with whatever the sailors ate since to my knowledge no one developed scurvy on the trip back.

Joseph

Re: Hour Lounge Exclusive: The 08 Tribute to the Great Explorers models
08/05/2008 - 20:11

Thanks Alex for sharing some great pics here. I would say I favor the Christopher Columbus. Certainly they are pricey as discussed, but maybe not for collectors. Best regards, Matt

Wonderful new additions to the collection!
08/06/2008 - 02:46

Many thanks Alex for bringing us this preview.

I admit that I have not always been a fan of this collection but the more that I see them, they definitely grow on me.  Now, especially as an American-born Chinese, I feel an even greater pull to these incredible timepieces.  Of course, choosing between them would pose a challenge... 

Thanks again Alex and I am still looking forward to the unveiling of the latest Les Masques pieces too.

Duncan

I'll try to please you very soon my friend :-) (nt)
08/06/2008 - 11:53

e

Alex, may I know who is the enemaller?
08/06/2008 - 04:47

Even though both are nice, I prefer the work on Marco Polo version in terms of the arrangement of the map on the dial and the extra colour blue.  However, I like the three boats on Columbus version.

Regards

Ling

Re: Alex, may I know who is the enemaller?
08/06/2008 - 04:53

I would be willing to bet it was Anita Pourchet.

Hi JB, I would love to bet it was Anita but...
08/06/2008 - 05:04

I don't think it was her work by looking at the price of $79k.  It should be higher.  Further, I believe Anita can do a better job in terms of details (the enemal works on Marco Polo and Columbus are goods). 

This is just my personal view.

Regards

Ling

Mystery enameller
08/06/2008 - 05:08

Hi Ling,

Its too difficult for me to see the details but I would think they would give such a high profile job to their best person (people).

perhaps Alex can in fact let us know.

Some close-ups of the watches to see details would be nice too.

The enamelling was done by Jean Genbrugge the same
08/06/2008 - 12:03

Belgian artist who did the dials of the Mercator series. Anita Porchet has worked up til now only on the 4 Seasons models. She also works as a consultant with VC and trains VC's inhouse enamelling department.

Here are some close ups of rather poor quality (click for a larger view)

Poor Quality
08/06/2008 - 13:26

Alex, when you said "poor quality", I presume you humbly refer to your close ups and not the enamelling.

To me, the enamelling work is quite acceptable (from the pictures) except that Jean Genbrugge didn't use more colourful enamelling.  I believe more colours mean the enamelling process would be more complicated and it would take longer time.

Then, it would not be $79k only.

Regards

Ling

the "poor" refers to my photos not the dial :-) however you
08/06/2008 - 13:47

are correct, more colors would entail much more work. On the other hand too much color would probably make the dial look  "cartoonish"

The Jean and Lucie team
08/07/2008 - 07:18

Picture from the Beverly Hills event earlier this year.

Lucie is his wife and he has been training her for the past few years, so she does enameling too.

Very very nice people. Tried to make me quit smoking the whole time I spent there!

The signature is J & L Genbrugge. You can see it on the right hand side of the dial on the Colombus watch:

Thanks for the pics Alex!...
08/09/2008 - 12:20

Not really fan of these two new models, I don't know why whereas the work on the dial is marvelous