In 2015, Vacheron Constantin (the oldest continuous watchmaker in the world) celebrated its 260th anniversary by revamping their Harmony collection, after 7 years of development. At the very top of this range (featuring reinvented cushion-shaped watches) was the Ultra Thin Grande Complication Chronograph, a piece that immediately set a record as the world’s thinnest self-winding monopusher split seconds chronograph.
However, it is the movement of this watch which truly sets it apart, which despite being incredibly thin is also functionally very complicated, a design that has earned it the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva. Measuring at just 5.2 mm. thick, the calibre contains 459 components, with some springs being as small as 3/100ths of a millimetre. Further increasing the impressiveness of this feat are the various technological advancements housed in the movement, such as a sizeable 51-hours power reserve and a clutch system designed to enable fluid operation of the chronograph seconds hand. On the dial side, the watch is refreshingly crisp and clean, with clear Arabic numerals and a silvered opaline dial (featuring a subtle power reserve indicator at 6 o’clock).
To show off the complexity of this movement (visible through the sapphire case back), the attractive hand-engraved gold rotor is set at the periphery of the calibre, enabling an unobstructed view of the watch’s inner mechanics. Vacheron, to prevent overwinding, has also managed to incorporate a locking mechanism within the watch, which automatically stops the rotor from moving once the watch is fully wound.
Further enhancing the present example’s appeal however, is its rarity. This watch is a unique piece, made by client specification, which sets it apart from the other examples (which are in any case already limited to only 10 pieces). Instead of a red tachymeter scale, the present example has adopted a blue pulsation scale instead, matching the colour of the numerals and the strap. For the ultimate collector, there is therefore no better opportunity than the present example (accompanied by a hand-signed celebration letter by Vacheron’s CEO) to own a truly unique, symbolic and complicated piece from one of the most respected watchmakers in the industry.
Examples of reference 5400S are illustrated in The Wristwatch Handbook, by Ryan Schmidt, p. 37