excerpt from VC press release:
Philosophia*: the other way to tell the time
Vacheron Constantin’s Atelier Cabinotiers service was recently busy with two special orders. The first, christened Philosophia* by its owner, is in and of itself a paradox. It brilliantly sets the scene for the peaceful coexistence of Fine Watchmaking and approximate time. The original idea was based on the postulate that mankind does not need to constantly know the exact time to the nearest minute. In some parts of the world, making an appointment “in the morning” or “in the evening” is quite sufficient to allow two people to meet. In the same spirit, knowing that it is 12 or 17 minutes past ten o’clock does not make the Philosophia*’s owner any happier or unhappier. However, while this man has decided on a lifestyle of displaying approximate time, he is no less a connoisseur of excellence. Far from being indifferent, he is in fact a Fine Watchmaking enthusiast and a major collector of timepieces.
The Philosophia* conveys all of these things at once. Based on a model from the Patrimony collection, it has only one hand in the centre, the hour hand, with a 24-hour display, allowing the approximate hour to be read without worrying about the minutes. But if the owner wants a more exact idea of the time at any given moment, he simply engages the on-off slide of the Philosophia*’s minute repeater, which reveals the exact hour, quarter hour and minute. If the hand is a little before 6 o’clock, the chime will sound five times on a low note, three times on a low-to-high note pair, and, for example, twelve times on a high note. That means it is exactly 5:57.
Another sophisticated touch in the Philosophia* is an opening in the dial at 6 o’clock that reveals a tourbillon rotating once every 60 seconds. The commissioner of the piece, who also likes astronomy, asked for a customised precision moon phase; the moon is shown with its craters, and a single star – the pole star—shines near it. On the back of the watch, the power reserve indicator bears a small plaque stamped with the intertwined constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Nearby, engraved in the 18-carat pink gold of the custom case, the identifying phrase “Les Cabinotiers” and the Atelier Cabinotiers coat of arms attest to the exceptional origin of this timepiece, which is also stamped with the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva.
Highly customised, the entire Philosophia* - a one-of-a-kind model – was made piece by piece at Vacheron Constantin by Atelier Cabinotiers. At its owner’s request, it was engraved with “No Un/Un” [No. One/One] instead of the usual “1/1” marked on one-of-a-kind pieces. This attention to detail was the rule for all 522 components of the hand-wound mechanical movement that makes the Philosophia* tick. The movement that drives a minute repeater, a 60-second tourbillon and the moon-phase display. Careful attention was paid to the finishes of all components; even the surfaces that will never be seen are hand decorated. This is true, for example, of the plate and its hand matt-effect file-stroke treatment, which gives it a very beautiful granulated sandy effect but which no one –except the watchmaker who takes the watch apart for maintenance – will ever see. Another special detail is the openwork at the centre of the escapement wheel, which provides a place for a pierced Maltese Cross motif, the symbol of Vacheron Constantin.
Unique in its spirit, aesthetics and exclusive mechanism, the Philosophia model was recently delivered to its owner by Vacheron Constantin’s Atelier Cabinotiers. It goes without saying that the presentation box as well as all the accessories and related documents – including the instructions – were also custom-made, one of each.
* Philosophia is the name given by the owner
Atelier Cabinotiers Philosophia
Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva
Energy Mechanical, manual-winding
Movement diameter 33.30 mm
Movement thickness 7.65 mm
Frequency 18’000 vibrations / hour (2.5 Hz)
Indications Hours 24 H, second on tourbillon
Power reserve on the back of the watch
Power reserve Approx. 58 hours
Bespoke power reserve dial engraved with “great and lesser Bear”
Case 18K 5N pink gold
43 mm in diameter
Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on one side
Dial Silvered opaline
Moon-phases disc in 18K 5N pink gold
Black painted minute-track and 11 Arabic numerals
Strap Brown Mississipiensis alligator leather, square scales,
hand-stitched, saddle finish
Clasp Buckle in 18K 5N pink gold
Polished half Maltese Cross
Case-back engraved with “Les Cabinotiers” identification and “AC” Hallmark