Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir

excerpt from VC press release:

Vladimir*: the ultimate in complications and artistic crafts

The second special order was named Vladimir* by its owner. This Slavic first name is derived from the ancient term Volodimir, which literally means “domination by peace” or “peace to all.” This superlative watch is none other than one of the world’s most complicated timepieces. That is what its owner wanted, and Vacheron Constantin’s Atelier Cabinotiers gathered the resources to meet this very ambitious goal. As it began this extraordinary adventure and accepted this uncommon mechanical challenge, Vacheron Constantin knew it could count on its unusual expertise garnered over an uninterrupted span of more than 250 years in business. The Genevese Manufacture had demonstrated this during its quarter-millennial celebration in 2005 by designing and producing in its own workshops what was at the time the world’s most complicated wristwatch, the famous Tour de l’Ile. The Vladimir* model that has just left Ateliers Cabinotiers is even more complicated than that legendary model of 2005. The hand-wound mechanical movement of this unique Vladimir* watch drives no less than 17 complications. This exceptional movement, bearing the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, has some 891 components, all hand-finished or hand-decorated at Vacheron Constantin. It is both a technical and aesthetic triumph that took Atelier Cabinotiers and its top-flight watchmakers four years to develop.

Just one look at the Vladimir*’s main dial, which was hand-engraved on a rose engine at Atelier Cabinotiers, gives an indication of the complexity of this horological masterpiece and reveals an impressive array of complications, in addition to the usual display of hours and minutes. To begin with the supreme example, the very refined 60-second tourbillon mechanism stands out at 6 o’clock, while next to it at 3 o’clock appears the moon phase on a blue sky with a precision moon in gold, smiling or serious depending on the phase and hand-engraved by Atelier Cabinotiers craftsmen. To its right, a smaller counter with a small blued hand indicates the striking mechanism torque, i.e., whether the minute repeater mechanism is engaged. In addition to the hour and minute hands – one-of-a-kind pieces made especially for this watch –that travel around the slightly off-centre minute markers, the front side of the main dial provides a second time zone with day/night indicator at 11 o’clock. The power reserve indicator is located in the 9 o’clock sector, also enhanced by a 52-week indicator. At this point, we have already seen seven easily identifiable complications on a well-balanced dial – with all of the motifs and materials having been selected by the purchaser – that are perfectly legible and aesthetically flawless. As another sign of the personalisation evident throughout the entire creative process, the guilloché pattern on the dial was also chosen by the collector of this exceptional timepiece.

The back is no less admirable than the front, having a wealth of information that is pleasantly arranged, exciting, subtle and surprising. On the upper portion, the perpetual calendar dials are arranged in a triangle, displaying the days of the week, month and date from left to right. A small window at 1 o’clock shows the leap-year cycle. In the centre of the dial, a blued hand sweeps over a small sector devoted to the equation of time, the variable difference observable between true (solar) time and the time marked by clocks, which for convenience is divided into equal intervals. Two other pieces of astronomical information are conveyed by hands traversing two sectors at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock: the time of sunrise and sunset. The list of functions ends in a blaze of glory with a precision sky chart of the northern hemisphere, as one rarely sees it.

This exceptional mechanical watch bearing the Hallmark of Geneva has a setting to match. The Vladimir*’s case is itself a work of art, epitomising the legendary expertise and nimble fingers of Atelier Cabinotiers’ artistic craftsmen. On the sides of this unique and imposing piece, which is 47 mm in diameter, the signs of the Chinese zodiac appear in bas-relief. The motifs and the bas-relief technique (which is extremely rare in watchmaking) used here were both done by request of the owner. Before getting to the heart of the matter with regard to the subject and materials, the designers showed the purchaser many sketches. The decision was then made to depict the signs of the zodiac on both sides of the case, which itself is made of 18-carat pink gold. In the end, the twelve figures – from the dragon through the rabbit and the rooster to the snake – were made to stand out slightly from the main body of 18-carat pink gold. It was a colossal task for the engravers – the twelve figures alone took more than six months – and required that a very special case first had to be made with extra-thick sides, from which the superfluous material was removed, carving roughly at first and then in very fine detail. As with every other timepiece from Vacheron Constantin’s workshop, the case was then polished very subtly, a task made all the more difficult by the fact that it absolutely must not destroy the engraver’s incredible work on the bas-reliefs. In order to meet the challenge and create this extremely complex and unique timepiece, Atelier Cabinotiers called on more than 20 experts and craftsmen. It was a Herculean effort for a watch that deserves to join the legendary ranks of exceptional watchmaking.

* Vladimir is the name given by the owner 

Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir

Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir

Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir

Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir

Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir

Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir

Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir

Reference 80253/000R-9593
Atelier Cabinotiers Vladimir

Calibre 2750
Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva

Energy Mechanical, manual-winding

Movement diameter 36.00 mm

Movement thickness 11.25 mm

Jewels 38

Frequency 18’000 Vibrations / hour (2.5 Hz)

Indications Hours, minutes, second on tourbillon
Minute repeater
Perpetual Calendar
Power reserve
Second time zone
Moon phase indication, age of the moon
Striking-mechanism torque
Perpetual time equation
Sunrise, sunset
Celestial map
Week number indication

Power reserve Approx. 58 hours

Case 18K 5N pink gold
47.00 mm in diameter
Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on one side
Manual engraving of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs on the side of the case

Water-Resistance None

Dial 18K white gold
Minute-track painted in white
8 applied hour markers in 18K pink gold

Strap Brown Mississipiensis alligator leather, square scales, hand-stitched, saddle finish

Clasp Buckle in 18K 5N pink gold
Polished half Maltese Cross

Unique piece
Case-back engraved with “Les Cabinotiers” identification and “AC” Hallmark

05/17/2011 - 18:17
05/17/2011 - 18:31
05/17/2011 - 23:05
05/17/2011 - 23:16
05/18/2011 - 00:19
05/18/2011 - 02:48
05/18/2011 - 04:33
05/18/2011 - 12:12
That is a stunning watch
05/17/2011 - 18:17
I really like the relief engraving on the sides. - SJX
05/17/2011 - 18:31
Wow A piece like this only comes up once in a lifetime!  Such a commisison is worthy of someone the likes of Henry Graves, the legendary watch afficionado.  This piece will take some time to study... Alex, what material is the dial?  Is there a special treatment given to produce that warm glow or is that the lighting?
I believe the dial is gold (nt)
05/18/2011 - 18:27
Based on the incredible Tour de l'Ile ...
05/17/2011 - 18:49
it goes several steps further. It is great to see the result if (BIG) money, taste and great skills are coming together. Congrats the lucky owner and to all the people participated in that project!
05/17/2011 - 23:05
An amazing tour de force! I notice the guilloched pattern looks like a new design. Really really fantastic!
05/17/2011 - 23:16
Thanks for the details and stunning photos.
Vloody vladtastic!
05/18/2011 - 00:19
You're on a roll Gary ;-) nt
05/18/2011 - 01:07
Incredibale watch! but...
05/18/2011 - 02:48
47mm in diameter is definitively unwearable.
Betcha its 2cm thick
05/18/2011 - 08:10

It would have made a nice pocket watch too 

the only downside of a collection of one. nt.
05/18/2011 - 08:18
Wow, that is amazing! (nt)
05/18/2011 - 04:27


What? No Chronograph?
05/18/2011 - 04:33

Truly Incredible.  I am envious of anyone who has that much money and good taste.

Re: Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir
05/18/2011 - 04:51
How long did it take to make?
from the 1st designs til delivery close to 3 years!
05/18/2011 - 18:29
And $6.5M...
05/19/2011 - 17:56
the timepiece mentioned in that article is not the Vladimir but
05/19/2011 - 19:50
something never seen before but you will need to wait sometime before I can announce anything
Damn...I hate waiting!! (nt)
05/21/2011 - 18:51
Amazing piece! The owner must be someone special (nt)
05/18/2011 - 06:00
Truly sublime! Thanks for sharing.
05/18/2011 - 07:28
Congratulations to the proud owner and to the team at VC. The watch combines superb examples of technical and artistic excellence rolled into one piece. The engraving on the sides of the case is such a cool idea. Thanks for sharing, Alex. Best regards, Kazumi
Hot ! one only need a single piece like this for a collection . nt.
05/18/2011 - 08:10
Incredible piece of Horological ART
05/18/2011 - 08:59
Congratulations to the owner for his taste and for all VC team who realized his dream. The Cabinotier is a real ULTIMATE service in High Horology. All details are done with precision and great artistic style. Happy proud owner. Thanks for sharing Alex, Liger
Beautiful, stunning and so much desirable !
05/18/2011 - 10:45
Thanks Alex for sharing this wonderful time piece. When I looked at the photos, I immediately thought it was a customized version of the Tour de l’Île. Same 2750 calibre, same case, same face but this one has one more complication and 57 more components ! As far as I'm concerned, I would be just satisfied with owning a "regular" Tour de l’Île in my collection...
the case is not the same as the Tour de l'Ile
05/18/2011 - 18:30
A tour de force.
05/18/2011 - 12:12
I am not into Grand Complications, but all the craft needed to realize such a piece is amazing, congratulations to Vacheron to have made it real. cheers Francois
Fantastic piece, but too close to the Tour de l'ille!
05/18/2011 - 13:41
It is unique but for all the effort, to choose something that is very similar to another piece is dissapointing.  Still, I would never say no to such a watch if I had the chance.
I don't understand what you mean...
05/18/2011 - 17:22
Seventeen separate complications, 891 components, this piece is actually more complicated than the Tour, therefore an improvement and a horological achievement.  How can that be disappointing?   Now the Tour de l'Ile was 17.8mm thick and if this is new marvel is a bit slimmer it would be even more amazing!
Re: I don't understand what you mean...
05/18/2011 - 22:20
Yes, I agree with all of what you said.  But all of that is internal.  From an outside view / aesthetics the only obvious difference is the week numbers and the designs on the side.  The rest is so similar.  If I had the money to get a bespoke piece it would be as bespoke as possible.  Look at the other piece shown this week, definitely unique / bespoke. Cheers Steve
Vladimir, Vladimir - I wish to see this marvel on Putin's wrist some
05/19/2011 - 01:35

day, or is he just a Patek guy??? Anyway, whoever gets to wear it will be one happy camper and a proud owner all rolled into one. Les Cabionotiers rocks. I hope to see more amazing concepts in the future. Congratulations!

rumor has it that Putin actually owns a VC Sputnik!
05/19/2011 - 06:53
A wonderful accomplishment.....
05/20/2011 - 00:48
One does wonder if the sky is the limit - this scenario proves it isn't! The Spec for the strap alone leaves one gasping.... Good to see such an interesting article. Tony
Re: Introducing the unique bespoke piece: Vladimir
05/21/2011 - 18:42
Quite an exceptional piece! It's amazing that VC can produce two stunningly different high-end bespoke watches (Philosophia and Vladimir), yet have them both be distinctly VC.