Imitation Is Most Sincere Form of Flattery

"The world’s thinnest mechanical movements are developed in Vacheron Constantin’s historical L’Ile premises."  With this introduction, Alex posted news of the new Historiques Extra Fine 1955 several months ago.  He went on... 

Within this impressive legacy, one particular hand-wound movement continues to attract the attention of specialists and collectors. Work on its development began in 1952 in L’Ile (the building on the Rhone River ‘island’ that has housed Vacheron Constantin’s histo-rical premises since 1875) and it was presented for the brand bicentenary celebrations in 1955 under the name Caliber 1003 considered as the most beautiful at this time. Its 9-lignes or 20.80 mm diameter and 1.64 mm thickness have made it the world’s smallest mechanical manual-winding movement on the market. By way of comparison, this micromechanical masterpiece composed of 117 parts is about the size of a small Swiss 20-centime coin.

This now legendary caliber (of which the excellence was to be confirmed by the subsequent orders placed by other great names in fine watchmaking) was used to equip three round watches that set a new record as the world’s thinnest watches measuring just 4.54 mm thick. These three timepieces have forever imprinted on people’s minds the image of the archetypal Vacheron Constantin watch: round, classic, ultra-thin and extremely reliable. 

Imitation Is Most Sincere Form of Flattery
The Hour Lounge Photo

What a beautiful and classic design, with an equally beautiful and classic manufacture movement.   This new version features a more contemporary 36mm width but improves upon its world-beating thinness at 4.10mm.  

It is also interesting to remember back to the 1950's when this case style was newly presented to the world.  Used for the original JLC-sourced caliber 1003, it also served to house other movements such as the 1008/BS in a 35mm Chronometre Royal Ref 6161.

Imitation Is Most Sincere Form of FlatteryAntiquorum Photo

But wait!  Does this look familiar?

Imitation Is Most Sincere Form of Flattery Antiquorum Photo

This example from 1956 shows Patek's Ref 2586-3 with calibre 23-300 manual movment in a 33mm case with a rather chubby 6.5mm thickness.  Well, at least they appreciated good design! Imitation Is Most Sincere Form of Flattery
To Alex: how many of beautiful ref 6161...
03/06/2010 - 23:17
...were produced and in which years ? Was there any optional gold bracelet ? Many thanks, Berny
now that is really interesting as this typical lug shape normally
03/07/2010 - 02:18
represents 1/4th of a Maltese Cross used for the first time by VC for one of its watches from its 200th anniversary.
funny I never realised that the lugs are based on the Malte cross
03/08/2010 - 11:50
Thanks Alex for pointing it out
big surprise! nt
03/09/2010 - 14:52