A Transitional Piece

A Transitional Piece

Inspired by Aaron's newly-aquired Ref. 6782 Thunderbird, and knowing the collective fondness for V&C's vintage caliber 107x family of automatic movements, I'd like to share some interesting observations regarding one Ref. 6694 which may be viewed as a transitional piece.

This particular white gold 6694 has been presented here before so I'll jump straight to discussions regarding the movement.  Manufactured in 1963, as attested by the Certificate of Authenticity, it features the expected K1072 29-jewel automatic movement with date wheel.  However, reference in the Certificate is also made to a Gyromax balance!  Well, now I have a mystery!

Indeed, upon removing the caseback and examining this oddity, I find it does indeed sport a K1072 and feature the wonderfully ingenious Gyromax balance wheel adjustment mechanism rather than the usual screw-balance with swan-neck fine regulator!

What's up?  Well, the Gyromax balance was not new technology when Vacheron decided to license it's use.  In fact, Patek Philippe patented the little gizmo back in 1949 and began to install like-fitted movements by 1952 (in combination with a swan-neck regulator during the early years).  

So, while it is commonly accepted that the Gyromax was the exclusive privilege of the caliber 1072/1 that became available in 1966, it seems reasonable that earlier experiments were undertaken to prove the worth of this marriage.  And what finer showcase for the leading-edge of Vacheron & Constantin haute horologie than the Chronometre Royal Ref. 6694 in elegant (and rarely used) white gold?

My communication with the Heritage Department confirmed that this, indeed, was the configuration upon manufacture.  As always, just when you think you have an understanding of things V&C...

A Transitional Piece

A Transitional Piece
another nice piece in yr collection, it is interesting to note that ..
10/17/2009 - 13:57
beta versions exists for V&C, tried and tested before launching the k 1072/1. then, are all ref 6694 installed with the gyromax wheel balance? or only some? i really admire yr relentless effort to research on watch materials. thank u for sharing.
Good Question
10/17/2009 - 21:32
I can only note that my two Ref. 6694 watches both have Gyromax.  The 1963 model is caliber 1072 while the 1967 model is caliber 1072/1.  The few other 6694 movement pics I can find on the 'net also show a Gyromax but I seem to recall seeing swan-neck regulators on some .  Batman owners....please inform us on your movement caliber! I had some fun with the camera yesterday....
this brand is always full of surprises !! (nt)
10/17/2009 - 16:34
This favorite of mine in your collection has just become even more...
10/18/2009 - 01:57
special, Dean What a nice surprise! Congrats on this marvelous revelation
All I can say Dean is PLEASE BRING YOUR BATMAN in Geneva in Jan!!!
10/20/2009 - 01:13
I am DYING to see this watch in the metal Pretty Please, I am serious!!!! Cheers, Francois
Re: A Transitional Piece
10/23/2009 - 10:34
Beautiful watch!  Here are a few shots of mine.  I apologize for the blurry back shot - on account of the lateness and the Malbec...
10/24/2009 - 02:07
Welcome to the Lounge, and congrats on having such a wonderful VC - this is by far my favorite vintage VC I would suggest that you repost your pictures as a new post - I might be wrong, but since it's on the 2nd page, a few of the Loungers will not get to enjoy its beauty... Thanks for sharing! Cheers, Francois
niiiiiccce and welcome to the Lounge :-) (nt)
10/25/2009 - 01:24
10/25/2009 - 04:58
Is that piece from Shonie?  Looks familiar....  Very nice textured dial.   Glad to have another reference photo for my files .
Re: Welcome!!
10/26/2009 - 00:48
Thanks for the warm welcome.  This watch was handed down to me from my father.  It was a "sample" piece that was offered to him when he held the advertising account for VC in SE Asia back in the 70s.  You already have a pic of this watch in your catalogue.  The pics I recently posted are after a full overhaul was performed at VC about 2 years ago.  I'm not sure what movement is in it - VC didn't give me that information after the service.  I am, however, taking it down to a watch maker to have the back opened up next Saturday to see what's in it.  I'll take pics of the movement then.