a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

this is a snapshot of the finest moment of my watch-collecting hobby, finding a ref 6782 along with the passion re-ignited for it. what comes along with collecting is always the search for the physique and material that tagged along with the watch. with the ref 6782, the material is immense and rich...

it started with this killer pic from tick-talk on feb 2009
a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

sports watches especially pilot-themed watches always trigger my interest and tick-talk's watch rekindled my diminished childhood dream of being a pilot , being bespectacled at the age of 13. so, u can empathised why i also have this ....

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

however the ref 6782 is not inspired by the GMT 1675, which was issued to commercial PAM AM pilots. it is inspired another Rolex nicknamed "thunderbird" , which is the Rolex datejust with a rotational bezel, which was given to the USAF Thunderbirds aerobatics team for their participation flying F-84 Thunderjets since 1953.  there are also various generations of it and the line is still continued under the name of "turn-o-graph".

here is a Rolex thunderbird ref 1625 which my watch bears strong resemblance to and born around the same time (late sixties to seventies):

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

i feel that the ref 6782 has to be the first mass produced sports/dress watch for VC, which unfortunatley was discontinued. in my opinion, it could be the precursor to the overseas line of sport/dress watches as overseas 222.

the ref 6782, known also as the "thunderbird" exist in various iterations, but the distinctive bi-directional turning bezel gives it an unique look in the VC collection of dress watches. 300 pcs of these were made during its production time and that made it a rare bird to catch. here are some of its variations, courtesy of antiquorum and other collectors:

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....
courtesy of suitbert W of the purists.com 

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....
courtesy of dutchclock, this one a reburbished dial from VC

not only has it a distinctive look, it has also a highly regarded automatic geneva-sealed movement caliber K1072/1 featuring a gyromax wheel balance,  powered by a 18ct gold rimmed beryllium rotor nad 4 ruby roller bearings. i will not dwell on the movement as they are detailed here : 

pictorial article :


text article:


as with many of my acquistions, friends are involved in my decision-making especially for tricky vintages, which i have little knowledge whatsoever, they shared invaluable knowldege not to be found in written literature explicitly, unless we are able read into the lines. the major credit of this acquistion goes to Dean (tick-talk) for the various emails he wrote me and our dear moderator ,Alex, who is ever so helpful.

mine is not the best example of the ref 6782, and here are the pics with little illustrations :

my watch features a tepestry-like satin champagne dial, unlike dean's sunburst pattern. the bezel is similarly fluted and coin-edged, however, all the indicators on the bezel are black lacquered (of which the 3,6,9,12 should be red-enameled in the original). time is told by the yellow gold hour and minute hands with black inlay, along with yellow gold baton indices with black inlay.  it has a framed date aperture, and doesn't feature the cyclob as the date window on the plexi, which the original should also have.

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782)..... 

it has the same silhouette as the Rolex ref 1625, strong but slim compared with new watches. do note that my example 
has an over-polished lugs, which the previous owner left behind, it should have been brushed, like the other examples above.
a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

despite at 35.5mm, this watch has a strong presence because it has lugs 20mm apart and can wear a relatively large strap. 

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

the side profile shows the curvy nature of its aerodynamic flight, which i really adore when worn.

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

the downlight of my watch is possibly the crown, which is worn and used.

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

this 3 piece cased watch is fastened by a screw-down case back for water resistance. mine with the case number engraved on its case back.

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

a minute "swiss" at under the 6 o'clock baton index is a must for the original dial (aside to dean :a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....)

a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

a owner's joy on a 6.5" wrist. a modern classic in my opinion, hopefully to be re-issued to benefit more collectors. a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....

a fine moment in my watch-collecting hobby, hopefully more on its way, that will give me some much joy in the research process and the ownership pride. 

so much of the excitement for now , as the watch is on its way to the VC spa, after one day of owenership. a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782)..... 

thank u for reading. 

10/13/2009 - 18:10
10/14/2009 - 18:53
10/13/2009 - 18:57
10/13/2009 - 19:06
10/14/2009 - 18:26
10/14/2009 - 19:04
10/16/2009 - 01:54
03/03/2010 - 19:07
WOW; how gorgeous a.ler..................
10/13/2009 - 14:51
the pictures are only surpassed by your obvious enthusiasm for this lovely piece of VC history.  I'd love to have a vintage piece to go with my Malte Chrono and OS....one day and I hope it'll be as beautiful as yours. Enjoy your watch...life is short!  Nothing can replace the pleasure you get from having something you love and looking at that every day. All the Best, Tom
thank u and indeed we odd to enjoy while we can. hope u can find a ...
10/14/2009 - 18:46
V&C that speaks to u, but the malte chrono and OS are good choices too.
you are no longer on a roll but on a binge!! Love the Thunderbird, it
10/13/2009 - 15:22
is a true modern classic. Love the dial on yours. May it time only happy moments and thanks for your great write up.
lol. too bad my Louis XIII bottle has just been sent to factory for ..
10/14/2009 - 18:51
a refill, and the alcohol's been subsided. now, i am looking for a substitute to fill up the emptiness as a junkie.
Many congrats on a beauty !!!
10/13/2009 - 16:26
Hello Aaron, Congrats again with your latest addition.These pieces are as stunning as they are rare.......great you found one. The VC spa is the best you can do....as you know I posted my experiences with mine some time ago. The only negative point: you need to wait, wait, wait..... Your dial is one of the variations I have seen thus far but maybe David knows more about it. I have both the original dial (with the "&") as well as the new one and I consider myself really lucky with that...... Herewith two recent wrist shots.... Best, mark
10/13/2009 - 16:31
I forgot to thank you for your nice write up and pictures !! I really enjoyed them. Best, Mark
glad u like it , on second look, maybe i'd take the brushed lugs :)...
10/14/2009 - 18:53
thank u for yr response on the VC service.
10/13/2009 - 18:10
Congrats Aaron, its a really great example.
Beautiful and rare piece, I love it! Congratulations! (nt)
10/13/2009 - 18:41
thank u . nt.
10/14/2009 - 18:53
A very nice review, Aaron!
10/13/2009 - 18:57
Congratulations on a really lovely (and rare) piece. Wear it in the best of health. Joseph
joseph, hope u get yr new toy soon and thanks :) nt.
10/14/2009 - 18:54
Very, ver, very nice Aaron !!
10/13/2009 - 19:06
Fantastic aricle and marvellous watch I had this one for only some moths, but it wasn't my thing..... But it found a happy owner and that's what's it's about , isn't it? Congrats Doc
oh doc, you'll only be fulfilled by an "&" :) you know it....
10/14/2009 - 18:58
thank u for the addiction and i am enjoying every second of it. see how happy u've made me! you're an
Bucherer TBird
10/14/2009 - 18:26
This interesting piece appears to have been more inspired by the Vacheron 6782 than the Rolex Thunderbird, especially with the bezel....
10/14/2009 - 19:04
u are a, one of the reason for the thunderbird is the sudden nostalgic rush for the 70s watches... suddenly i find myself interested in the iwc yachtclub, rolex day date and the likes... 70s and gold .. i think a hole in the pocket is inevitable.
Great write up on the Thunderbird
10/15/2009 - 13:45
I have a question about the quantities produced as you say about 300 were made, but I remember previous posts and information mentioned that the quantity made was about 100 watches.  Is this new updated quantity of 300 the most current count that we have? BR, Dan
300 pcs from the article that tic- talk linked...
10/15/2009 - 14:11
:) right at the bottom that wrote :Series number: approx. 300 in yellow gold, in different dials . i think this article is definitley authoritative for ref 6782http://www.thehourlounge.com/thread/view/automatic-calibers-1019-1070-1071-and-1072_25542_25542.html
Thanks. Interesting, Dean and others have also referenced a note...
10/16/2009 - 05:52
in an Antiquorum auction catalog (I'm not sure if its the 2005 Quarter Millenium VC auction or the earlier Art of Vacheron Constantin auction as my catalogs are in the U.S.) that says only about 100 have been made. If Antiquorum is correct, then your precious is even more rare! Alex, Dean, or anybody else - is there an authoritative answer to the question about quantities of ref. 6782Qs (aka Thunderbird, aka Turn-o-Graph) that have been produced? BR, Dan
Whoa, such an interesting report!
10/16/2009 - 00:22
and the watch ain't bad either Thank for sharing all the info and your views, I really enjoyed reading your post. One question: is it established that VC "took inspiration"(dare I say copied?)  from the Rolex THunderbird, or could it be just a coincidence that both models look so similar? Congrats on your finest moment in watch collecting, and let's hope that the trip to the spa will be a short one! Cheers, Francois
10/16/2009 - 01:54

Francois, I would have to conclude that V&C copied the design from Rolex as their version was launched about 10 years earlier and was already quite popular when the 6782 was released.  Of course, that certainly didn't stop V&C from doing it better . Now as far as total production numbers go, we do have conflicting reports from Antiquorum (around 100) and the German article in Chronos (approximately 300).  We had an earlier discussion regarding production dates: click here to see the post . I wouldn't rely on either as gospel and would love it if the Heritage Dept could give us the final word.  Alex, is that something you could enquire on....please?

francois and dean, definitely not a copy ........
10/16/2009 - 11:52
copy would mean imitation or reproduction, and this case for the intention of passing off.  first, V&C in the 60s and 70s has a better name than rolex, so there is definitely no intention to pass off as a rolex. substance-wise, there are differences between the watches, let me share these material that i withheld from my article: 1. the rolex has a pie-pan dial with tritium markers, V&C meant to be a dress/sports omitted all those 2. the rolex's bezel has a raised numered and baton markers, the V&C has an engraved numbered and diamond markers 3. movement-wise, V&C outdone rolex by a mile by using a 29 jewelled geneva sealed with gyromax wheel balance compared with a 26 jewels by rolex such case shape withstood times and used throughout in many watches, even today, which no one has proprietary. i argue that its more a tribute to a wearable dress/sporty watch than a copy. there is also a reason i think 300pcs is a more conceivable number, given that antiquorum has a long list of transactions. if it were 100pcs, i doubt that many will appear. the 100pcs figure probably referred to the one with tear-drop lugs. anyway, we will await VC's clarification.
Good points, but....
10/16/2009 - 19:47
Aaron, I'm afraid you are looking with your heart and not your eyes .  The design similarities between the Rolex and VC TBird are beyond question, but I don't consider that a negative as I really like the design (and so do you I think).  It is in the details that they differ, of course. Considering the time period when the 6782 was released and the growing competition within the Swiss watch industry for a piece of an ever-shrinking haute horologie along with their natural desire to expand sales, it makes good business sense for V&C to market an already accepted design with their own unique touches.  I think the same thing goes on today .
10/17/2009 - 13:45
that was replied for arguement sake, u are right!
it surprises me you decided to part with this rare bird so quickly and
10/18/2009 - 01:18
sent it to the shop for service... I would have spent a little bit more time with it to enjoy it sheer beauty Great find - congrats! Hope it returns to you in no time in a collector's-dream condition...
Thanks for the very nice post,
03/03/2010 - 19:07
but there is already one as I see it! Cheers Doc
Re: a moment in watch-collecting ( a review on ref 6782).....
12/13/2010 - 23:40
Aaron,   Thank you all the information on the 6782 that you have posted.  I love the look of your watch and would like to obtain one. I figure that I would do about the same if were to send it in, so I guess the charges would be about the same.  I've never dealt with the VC Spa and I was wondering what the approximate charge was for all the services they performed on your 6782.   I've read some conflicting figures on the number of 6782s were made in 18K --- anywhere from just a 100 to a few thousand.  Do you happen to know what the # of 18K 6782s produced is? Lastly, in your view, what is the fair price of a 6782 today (in good working condition and all original)?  The last time I saw one of these was several years ago and it went for around $7,500US (Antiquorium --- and I think that was the selling price).  With the Buyer's fee and taxes, this would have probably ended up as a $9,500US purchase (which I would think the buyer figured into the bidding price).  Shoot me a reply back when you have a moment. Regards, Jean-Paul