The unique Ref 4639 Chronograph: a write up and 1st color photos

I was recently contacted by a Lounger about the Ref 4639 of which I had only seen a black and white photo asking me if I would like to see some photos. "WOW" was all I could mumble, having access to such a piece was horological Nirvana!

Allen kindly sent me photos and a write up on his unique Ref 4639 chronograph

scan from VC archives
The unique Ref 4639 Chronograph: a write up and 1st color photos

Most of us have seen the movie Harry Potter and know the story of the wand choosing the wizard; well the same holds true when we discuss how truly unique and masterfully created Vacheron Constantin’s chose their owner. 

For me this day will forever be etched in the stories handed down through my generations. 

 Ref 4639

It was a beautiful and sunny day in Los Angeles California; my best friend and I were meeting in Beverly Hills to do a little watch shopping as has been our custom to do several times a year for many years.  This day would prove to be far different from any we had ever encountered and yet it started like any other normal day. 

First we stopped by a couple of our favorite watch shops on Rodeo Drive.  My favorite, by far, is Philippe’s Watches of Beverly Hills, they are great people, very knowledgeable, and always have a great selection of vintage and modern watches but unfortunately this particular day nothing struck that chord within us all that says “that is the one!”  So, we continued on to our next stop West Time, another Rodeo Drive shop, where they specialize in only modern pieces and again, sadly, nothing caught my eye.  Off to Tourneau we went, this was just a couple of blocks away and as everyone knows always has a great reputation for having both modern and vintage pieces no matter where in the world you visit them; again, nothing.  At this point, we started wondering if this day would be like a day fishing when nothing was biting.  You know, a bad day fishing is still better than a good day at work!  We felt the same way, a day of watch shopping without finding that awesome piece that must be added to your collection is still better than a day doing anything else and then we made our final stop of the day at another of our favorite watch shops in Beverly Hills “Feldmar”.  If you have not been there you have truly missed a great experience!!  Sol Meller the owner is an awesome individual and always takes time to care for and visit with his customers. 

After several minutes of talking with Sol, he decided to show us some unique pieces that he was just getting cleared to sell and that’s when it happened; the moment that my heart sank.  It felt like a rush of wind hitting you that takes your breath away as you feel this instinctive “that is the one, I must have it” feeling overcome all your senses.  What Sol had brought to show me was a beautiful Vacheron Constantin in 18kt gold with an 18kt gold bracelet unlike anything I had ever seen.  It was at this moment the watch picked the owner as I was literally spellbound and could not set it down nor could I take my eyes off of it.  Immediately my heart fell as I wondered and hoped that the watch would fit my wrist as the astonishing gold bracelet was made in only one size and could not be adjusted.  With anticipation and holding my breath I carefully unbuckled the solid gold buckles and slowly but carefully draped the bracelet on top of my wrist.  I still remember the feeling of awe in how it felt like you had just placed a piece of the worlds finest silk on my wrist, it felt so incredible that it was mind-blowing. 

Then it came down to the moment of truth, would this incredible bracelet buckle around my wrist and how would it fit.  At that moment, I latched the two buckles and like a finely custom tailored suit from Bijan of Beverly Hills the match was made in heaven.  It looked and felt so fabulous on my wrist that I knew in an instant “it was the one!”  After some brief discussions with Sol about price and a quick call to the bank to authorize the transaction the match was finalized and “my” Vacheron Constantin had chosen me as its lucky and privileged owner.

Once we were safely home, the search began to find out all I could about this miraculous piece of craftsmanship and the spirituality you feel as it embraces your wrist.  This is when I discovered Alex’s article and contribution to the Vacheron Constantin forum “The History of Vacheron Constantin Wrist Chronographs Part1 1917-1970” that he posted on June 9th, 2009 here.  It was here in these pages that I discovered that the Vacheron that had chosen me was in fact a truly unique piece and is described by Alex as a “1950 ref 4639: A unique model with a 35mm yellow gold case and an amazing yellow gold bracelet.  Houses cal 434”

I was so ecstatic to find a mention of this astonishing watch and my newly found companion; however it was also saddening that this was all the intelligence I could garner on my beloved companion.  The fact that there was not even color photographs for everyone to thoroughly enjoy and admire the beauty of this unique and one of a kind Vacheron Constantin master-piece was heart breaking.  That’s when I knew it was up to me and I would have to right this wrong by contacting Alex to let the whole world know that this unique and majestic piece was not lost to the world, sold for gold scrap or tossed in a forgotten place never to be seen or appreciated by the souls that it was intended to inspire but was alive!  This awe-inspiring 1950 Vacheron Constantin Chronograph had chosen a home in which it would be celebrated, honored, and revered as the truly breathtaking piece of Vacheron Constantin craftsmanship that it is and a beloved companion to accompany its newly chosen owner though life’s amazing adventures.                 

 Ref 4639

 Ref 4639

 Ref 4639

 Ref 4639

 Ref 4639


The unique Ref 4639 Chronograph: a write up and 1st color photos

Allen thank you for the write up, your love for this watch is
03/13/2013 - 18:23
contagious! May it time only happy momentsyes
Thank you for sharing this with us
03/13/2013 - 19:13
These are the kinds of stories we all hope to be able to tell.  What a beauty!  I love the clean dial, the space between the subdials, the markers, the hands -- and that bracelet!  You are the chosen one, indeed. Best, Robert
What a story! What a watch! You only see these beauties here, thanks
03/13/2013 - 22:00
for sharing
Some breathless prose for a watch that will tke your breath away
03/13/2013 - 22:26
Well Done!
What a beauty, the bracelet is pure joy!
03/13/2013 - 23:30
nt
A unique Vacheron with a beautiful write up.
03/14/2013 - 00:46
That's what I love in interent, it makes things possible. a "lost" watch, reappears and is shared with its story. Thanks Alex and its proud owner, a fnatastic story. cheers Francois
Thrilling to see!
03/14/2013 - 01:00
Gives me chills to see and read about your gorgeous unique timepiece heart.  Wish I could age as nicely as that watch...
You are a lucky, lucky man Allen. That is a great
03/14/2013 - 01:14
watch. May we have a look at the movement?  Just WOW! Tim
An amazing find!
03/14/2013 - 03:38
Wonderful write-up, Allen! BIG congratulations on this fantastic watch. Best, Paul
great coming on line and discovering this beauty.Congratulations Allen
03/14/2013 - 10:57
nt
really happy for you, but am having a little attack of watch envy ;-)
03/14/2013 - 13:02
sounds like you are one happy collector. this egg-timer sure is a keeper and you will enjoy it for the years to come! may it tick away happy times onlywink
All I can say is WOW.....
03/14/2013 - 14:29
What a beauty!!!! Wear it with pride because they do not make them like that any more....
A question for Allen re bracelet
03/14/2013 - 21:39
Hi Allen:  You may be interested in looking at lot 432 of this weekend's Antiquorum auction.  It reveals a 1940s V&C with similar bracelet.   If I hadn't seen yours, I would not have thought twice about the auction notes, which state: "The bracelet of the present watch is likely to be contemporary but non-original, it is well made and the links echo the shape of the lugs.  The clasp is punch-marked EJ possibly the mark of Edmond Jaeger who also made bracelets and clasps for Cartier."   Antiquorum doesn't reveal all of the interesting bits.  Edmond Jaeger died in 1922 but his company continued under Paul Lebet, an officer of LeCoultre.  Thus in 1937 Edmond Jaeger company went on to partner in Jaeger-LeCoultre which, a year later, merged with Vacheron & Constantin.  Not coincidentally, Lebet was one of the first directors the "new" V&C.  So we already know your bracelet is absolutely original, as shown in the archive reference photo, and to my eye the auction bracelet is of the same maker as yours.  These circumstances support a conclusion that Edmond Jaeger company was, post-1938, supplying original bracelets to V&C in addition to their trade with LeCoultre.  Can you please confirm if your bracelet is also marked "EJ"?
the bracelet is not market EJ (nt)
03/15/2013 - 12:47
e
Thanks for checking, and
03/15/2013 - 21:36
Alex would you be able to ask the archives if EJ was the supplier?  Did V&C also use Gay Freres (I seem to recall yes)?