A rare VC known as the 'Helm' watch due to its distinctive serrated bezel which is supposed to resemble a ship's Helm. 4708 is the central seconds version and the 4709 has the subsidiary seconds (I think). 466/3b calibre, 34mm in diameter but wears much smaller due to the size of the bezel and correspondingly tiny dial.
The bezel inspired the design of the 222.
I own a 4709 but never wear it! Shame, as it is a pretty little thing!
Please Thanks for pointing out the difference between 4708 and 4709, makes perfect sense. Don't have a catalog image for the latter though. I've found the term "helm watch" used to describe a variety of V&C models. Christies and Antiquorum also applied it to the desk watches.
I'd say only the last piece actually resembles a ship's helm. We know the other desk watch was intended to resemble a gimballed ship's chronometer.
Antiquorum described the case of the 4709 as having "overhanging annels and ribbon lugs". I'd like to know what the heck annels are.
Your comment that the 222 bezel was inspired by the 4708/4709 design is intriguing. Alex once wrote in his Evolution of VC Sports Watches article that the serrated bezel of the 4709 may have inspired Hysek but I thought, rightly or wrongly, that was more speculative than definitive. Alex, can you clarify?
I'd rather call it "ribboned" as I find the resemblance with a helm very vague and not realistic.
Similarity between 4709 and 222 sounds also intriguing to me since there's nothing farther to a cogwheel than a ribbon but everything's possible in a designer's mind, I'd love to know more.
thanks for that Longines example, I hadn't seen one before. Probably the LeCoultre versions of this case style are the most common.
This thread has prompted me to open the back of my VC 'Helm' watch and, lo and behold, the movement is not the 466/3B but rather the 458/3B!
Here are some (mediocre) photographs. As you can see, the dial is a bit smudged in places. There is also a barely legible inscription on the back which (I think) reads "A Maria de Mauricio". I have sent off a request to the VC Concierge to confirm the year of manufacture. My intention is to send the watch to Geneva in the near future for a service and general sprucing up - not sure what to do about the inscription!.
Re the term 'Helm' watch: In his TimeZone article on the Antiquorum New York sale of 15 September 2010, Paul Boutros refers to the watch (Lot 223) as the Vacheron Constantin Vintage 'Helm' Watch without referring to the specific model number. This would suggest that the term 'Helm watch' was and is widely accepted as referring uniquely to this VC (as far as wristwatches are concerned). However, I am more than happy to be proved wrong on this point.
I think V&C has the most sensual and dramatic . Certainly you can call your watch helm or helmut, as you please although knowing Paul I'm confident he would entertain other possibilities.
If you are soliciting advice re the inscription, aside from thinning the case if you have it polished out, it seems very charming. Looks to be Spanish but Maria is not capitalized and the dot over the "i" seems misplaced or perhaps a gouge. What about "mama"?
There was nly difference is due to whether it is a small seconds hand or a center seconds hand.