Question Regarding Cal. 455

Dear Alex and Fellow Loungers,

I have been searching for more information on the movement in the 4241 that I just acquired, and am coming up empty handed.  It is a 17 jewel 455 12 1/2’’’  movement and VC has confirmed that its movement number matches the case number and was manufactured in 1945. 

Looking at past sales at Antiquorum, it appears that 4241s manufactured through 1945 used this 455 movement, while those made later used a 485/A.  Are they the same movements with different numbering, and if not, what is the history of the 455?  Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Cal. 455?
12/09/2011 - 20:54
Sorry I can't help with the caliber 455 frown.  Listed in my movement catalog for 12-1/2 ligne calibers is the 453 with sub-seconds, upon which are based the caliber 454 with center seconds, 485 with day/date/month indications, and 495 with day/date/month/moonphases.  Also based on the 453 were the Chronometre Royal wrist watch calibers 1007 and 1008.  Nothing at all about the 455 - I hope Alex can provide a picture and story!
I attribute this kind of thing to a misreading of the number
12/10/2011 - 18:56
unless you're paying attention and using a loupe,  a 5 can look like an 8. If there is a 455 out there, I'd like to know more about it. Bill
Maybe . . .
12/10/2011 - 21:36
Bill, You may be right, but if so, a lot of folks have misread the number.  There are at least 10 Antiquorum results for VCs of that era with offset seconds that are listed as having Cal. 455.  Most are 4241s, including one with a certificate of authenticity, another with a movement number only three higher than mine, and the rest with movement numbers within a range of 150 above or below.  There are also a 4240 and a 4361 in the bunch.  In any case, I am picking the watch up at Sotheby's tomorrow and will post a photo of the movement as soon as I get home.  I hope we can solve this mystery! 
There is a cal 455!
12/10/2011 - 20:59
455 is a well knowned movement. 455 is a round movement , 12 1/2" , (29,30 mm). Height 5,00 mm. Anchor movement. Calender. Manual. Herdeity from 453, same diameter 12 1/2" but only height 4.00 mm. That's the base caliber. You are right 485, is a known caliber, also direct from the base calber 453! Difference compared with 455 is height: 5.10 mm, also calender BUT it have also moon phase. Hope that satisfies your question cool Loungers, sorry, seems I can never quit, but some things in this are basic. Cheers Doc
Pictures Doc?
12/10/2011 - 21:11
That's great info!  At 5.00 mm, it seems the 455 with calendar (would that be day/date/month?) has the same thickness as the 454 with center seconds.  Do you have any technical drawings or photos of this caliber to post?  Please........
I will post pictures of the 455 on Monday
12/10/2011 - 21:39

As soon as I get it home and pop open the back.

Re: Pictures Doc?
12/10/2011 - 22:18
Dean, no pics. but read the book you have and I told you to buy, OK German but figures are the same. Scanned for you and all others! My message for the last time, buy a POCKET WATCH and this book, the best about Vacheron & Constantin !! Followed by this : OK? You have on one on your shelves, dear Dean. Reading books, as I do, perhaps 5 books at the same time, means, reading them from start to finish.  Every page. If you got a decent memory, you know where to seek next time  yes  laugh What are you doing to me? Saturday evening, fire in front of the chair, where I'm, guess reading a book,  and those guys on the floor. Wife away for some days..... and you force me back again, spending my time, at The Hour Lounge....... Good bye wink Doc
Augenweide Armbanduhr
12/10/2011 - 23:00
I realize that Doc WON'T be reading this post wink but I don't completely trust Augenweide Armbanduhr as a reference source.  For example, it cites the overall height (Bauhöhe) of the calibers 485/495 as 5.10 mm.  The official V&C Catalogue de Fournitures lists those same movements as having a "Hauteur totale" of 5.25 mm.  Then, of course, is the debacle previously discussed here: click here to see this post.  Otherwise it is a great reference but not the bible!  For that we must wait for official word but it won't surprise me to find it was a short-lived triple date caliber replaced by the 485.  Bill, I totally get your point about typos too; Antiquorum has continued similar misinformation for years using the same boilerplate descriptions on their auction listings.
I need that book in English!
12/11/2011 - 00:18
Love your fireside companions on the floor.
Re: I need that book in English!
12/11/2011 - 02:02
Only thing you have to do is translate it and print it. Easier, buy a dictionary, as I, and use your brains laugh The hunting labradors are drying up, storm and rain, when we were out 1/2  hour ago. Congratulations you got the last post from Doc! Print it, frame it put it on the wall in your library cool and laugh about it 10 years from now  yes FINITO Doc
Vacheron Cal. 455 watches & movement from Google search
12/11/2011 - 13:58
From the last watch the movement photo:
Circular argument
12/11/2011 - 18:11
Hi marios: judging by the pictures, your Google source is Antiquorum's auction descriptions which may be in error as Bill suggested. If you want to see a great example of contagious misinformation just Google "222" and "genta" surprise. I must confess that I was premature in criticizing Augenweide Armbanduhr for incorrect movement dimensions a few posts above.  I was reacting to Doc's data but my 1992 copy has the correct dimensions for the 485 and 495 calendar movements and DOES NOT list a caliber 455 at all!  I've sent a private email to Doc asking him to confirm the source of his photos.  This is becoming a first-class mystery...
Doc's answer
12/11/2011 - 18:45
Well Mats rightly teased me about not reading the book closely enough as on page 30 is does list the 455 in a listing titled, Movements in order of number, as shown in his picture.  On page 57-60 are more detailed descriptions which do not include the 455.  The author describes his source for these details as "Arranged from two spare parts catalogues from the early and late sixties and fifties"...which is the same Catalogue de fournitures referenced earlier.
Hi! Dean
12/11/2011 - 20:47
Hi Dean! I found another element. On your V&C wristwatch reference list 1889 – 1999 there is the reference 4241 circa 1943 and 1945 seems to use cal. 455. 
My dear Doc,
12/13/2011 - 18:50
(and I say this in the most affectionate way possible), you are the Brett Favre of the Hour Loungewinkangelyes Cheers, Francois
Infos from Antiquorum
12/11/2011 - 19:14
Hi All, Found in Antiquorum The Art of Vacheron Constantin, Geneva November 1994, page 211 Reference 4240, Case N° 273740, movement N° :429559, 12 1/2" - 455 rhodiumed, f"ausses côtes", ..... Reference 4241 Case N° :289531, movement N° : 429923, idem Best regards. Patrice.
A working theory
12/11/2011 - 21:23
Thanks for these references Patrice.  The two cal. 455 movements are listed as being completed in 1944 and 45.  The evolution to cal. 485 appears to have been 1946 onwards. But you have also opened another can of worms regarding the reliability of Antiquorum descriptions... Factory literature describes the cal. 485 as a triple calendar with day/date/month, and the 495 as triple calendar and moonphases.  Check out lot 181 and 214 in Art of Vacheron Constantin!  A moonphase with cal. 485 and a non-moonphase triple calendar with a cal. 495 movement surprise.  The Quarter Millennium auction catalog, lots 209, 211 and 212 show the same conflicting calibers. To add the the typically confusing V&C information, you will find reference numbers can be misleading in determining what movement should be within!  The same ref. 4240 triple calendar, for example, was available both with and without moonphases frown.  As Alex previously stated, the reference numbers referred to case style only.  According to a letter to V&C dealers in the mid 1950s,  their policy was to change designs (which apparently included changing movements if necessary) after a run of 24 examples of any one style, thus the tremendous variety of dial iconography within a reference series.
Cal 455 was used in the 1st triple date models without
12/12/2011 - 10:09
moonphase but the latter could not be added. Cal 455 was replaced at a later date by cal 485 which didn't have moon phase either but the movement was designed to be able to have a moonphase added thus becoming cal 495.
Ta Da!
12/12/2011 - 17:41
Makes sense Alex yes.  Curious though, what year did the change occur?
Unfortunately I don't have the exact date of transfer as there is
12/12/2011 - 18:47
a possibility of having had both movements co-exist for a certain time until the 455 was phased out
Hi Definition Photo of VC Cal. 455
12/13/2011 - 00:45
As promised, here is a high definition photo of the Cal. 455 for your reference.  The caliber number is seen on the left side by the balance wheel.  Unlike it's sucessors, the 485 and 495, the caliber number is not prominantly on any of the bridges.
Thanks Michael, looking forward in seeing scans and reading your
12/13/2011 - 15:23
There it is!
12/13/2011 - 18:02
Seems the difference between 455 and 453 are on the dial side...Cal. 453Cal. 455
Very interestign thread
12/13/2011 - 18:45
I don't have much to contribute, other than to say that I am honored to be surrounded by a bunch of horlogical Sherlock Holmes...yes Cheers, Francois