Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

To give you some history its the Mercator which got me interested in VC, it had two main features which I thought fascinating (an engraved dial) an an alternative way to tell time via 2 retrograde hands representing a compas...a true work of genius!

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away


In 2004 Vacheron Constantin launched a new model range called the Metiers d'Art Tribute to the Great Explorers. an incredible watch with a two layered enamel dial with wondering hours representing the travels of famous explorers. These models were available in only 60 pieces for each dial

under dial with the hour discs and the botton part of the dial with the minute markers
Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

top part of the dial
Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away






The 1st two represented Zeng He and Magellan (photos courtesy of Alberto S)


Zeng He
Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Magellan
Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

In 2008 two new and final models were introduced representing Columbus and Marco Polo

Colombus
Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away


I imediately fell in love with the Marco Polo model and contacted my AD who was not sure about deliveries, a few months later he calls me saying that there is aboslutely no timeline on deliveries due to the extreme complexity and rejection rate of the two storey enamel dial, later on someone at VC told me that there was a 1.5 - year wait as the pieces were trickeling in.

I decided to be patient and wait in line. To my greatest of horrors a Marco Polo recently became available but the funds I had put aside to purchase it had long been spent so I had to let it go with a bleeding heard and a kick in my own bottom  Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away 

However before kissing my drean watch goodbye forever I took some scans as to look at and admire her during my tormented nights

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away

i too drool at these luxurious objects. the mercator shall be the....
10/08/2010 - 18:47
one that precedes any VC modern watches i like of recent, like the 1921 and 1955.i promise myself i shall catch this iconic watch before i proceed with collecting any new VCs, this is how important it is in my collection. ironically, this watch did not catch my eye when i started collecting watches, i dismissed it as frivolous and outrageous, not understanding its significance, but as i dwell further into collecting and into VC, i begin to see the light on the importance of this watch in a VC collection.  this is one watch that grows on me, and this is how keepers are. all that said, i have not seen the watch but pictures from Alex's constant reminder story of how he started collecting VC. for me, it was the les historique chronograph at a watch event, and the watch was not for sale !!! beside the ingenuity of telling time with the caliper retrograde hands, the case is also very iconic and its size also suits my small wrist. regret letting go of one when i had a chance albeit having paper that does not match the watch. in retrospect, really, how important are the papers? it was a bad decision, should have gotten it first and wait for the next piece to cross my path. so let my lesson be learnt by fellow friends here.
The Mercator and Tribute to Great Explorers series are masterpieces!
10/08/2010 - 19:51

Like most avid VC fans (for sure), I too dream of someday owning on of these exquisite timepieces...Alas, like many of VCs special creations, they are well (WELL) beyond my reach (but that is my problem). Both watches represent VC at its finest; showing VC's dexterity in both the technical and artistic fields of watch-making.  It takes a lot of creativity to come up with such imaginative ways to display time, and although they may never win any contests for accuracy (no minute indices here!), they surely win everyone's heart for sheer beauty and style! My first experience with a Mercator was at a watch fair where they had an enamel version showing an old map of Japan.  Aside from being lucky enough to join VC's SIHH 2008 bash, I also had the pleasure of seeing our Jerome's (aka "Mercator") engraved mercator (what else!).  I still kick myself for not grabbing that watch from his wrist while he took me (and Radek) on a short tour of the neighborhood!  I also had a chance to see another Mercator at VC's maison together with an un-cased Great Explorers watch.  (*sigh*...I should have been a lawyer). I will probably never own any of these watches but they will definitely be on my "watches to buy when I win the lottery" list! Bon weekend! Kazumi

Re: Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away
10/08/2010 - 20:28
I'm waiting too, Alex. I have a mercator and have missed a Great Explorers twice. But patience, patience, my precious will appear some day. Joseph
the problem is that each time there is one at
10/08/2010 - 21:51
Auction it is more expensive than the previous one! The last one went almost for list price!!!
Re: Tribute to the Great Explorers Marco Polo my dream watch that got away
10/09/2010 - 12:25
What incredible works of art & watchmaking. Truly unique. Don't give up the dream Alex! Gary
There's always a second chance, I'm sure you'll come across one soon..
10/09/2010 - 16:59
enough and won't let it get away... Keeping my fingers crossed for you
A real treat!
10/10/2010 - 17:40
Thanks Alex  It was a real treat to see the under-dial workings of the Great Explorers model.  Are you able to share similar pics of the Mercator and Les Masques?
Both are amazing
10/13/2010 - 13:05
I have yet to see a Tribute to grand explorers in the flesh but I hope I will someday. The Mercator is outstanding and I'm proud to have one in my collection. There's so much attention to detail and I keep admiring it through a loupe at work! Here's a couple of pictures Last picture is taken through said loupe. Not the best but kinda cool in a way Martin
Way cool!
10/13/2010 - 18:25
Congratulations on your beautiful piece, and one of my secret desires .  The Mercator proves that VC "gets it" in the realm of creativity.
Nice!
10/17/2010 - 20:27
The Mercator was the first watch to convince me that I want something other than a watch with the usual rotating hours and minutes hands someday. It must be really captivating at the top of each hour, especially going into 1 o'clock!
Alex it's a milestone!
10/16/2010 - 20:26
Hi Alex, and thanks for another superb article. Yes, it is hard when just not getting it....better not being so close I as you, think it's 'one of ones', as my closest friends and I use to say. It's the highest value on the scale. Longer back we always said: 'it's number one' nothing beats it, but problem is that it's always  some other watch,  rock favourite, boat, actor, arist that after a time you realise is as good as 'number one'! Therefore we now says it's 'one the ones' Thanks also for the fantastic photos, magnificent! Doc PS, Alex send me a private mail, I fiddled away your address when transferring to the MacBook Pro..
The Mercator is classic VC and your day will come Alex...
10/21/2010 - 16:27
good things come to those who wait! BR, Dan