Last week end the Wall Street Journal featured an article called:"What's Your Time worth?" in it the author disected the watch market and its trends. Like what analysts publish for stocks the author set 3 categories of timepieces: Buy, Hold and Sell.
In the Buy category (about 6-7 watches) the author had chosen the Vacheron Constantin Mercator. For me this is not surprising as it is probably one of the most interesting watches both technically and aesthetically to come out of Switzerland in the past 10 years!! Its complexity in terms of mechanics, the difficulty of making the dials (either in cloisonné enamel or etched with acid!) and its rarity make it a true collectors item.
What surprises me however is the author's choice for the dial: The Mercator with Chinese Zodiac signs. For me this dial is a bizarre addition as it does not really fit the concept of the Mercator which refers more to an age of distant travels and exploration which is better illustrated in the "regular" dials inspired by Gerald Mercator's maps.
The Original Mercator with enamel dial launched in 1994 (this watch was oficially limited to 50 pieces but I have heard that only 30 were made) :
Regular production model with dial etched in acid then filled with enamel
The WSJ's choice: Chinese Zodiac dial: