Past Meeting – Watches with Complications

Tim Treffry: Watches with Complications

Our speaker initially defined the term with reference to perhaps the earliest -the Breguet watch No. 160 which was ordered for Marie-Antoinette in 1783 by a mysterious admirer but never received by her as it was only finished in 1827, 34 years after her death. Others mentioned as a background were the Packard and Henry Graves watches but Tim’s main focus was on the “Watch of the Century” a timepiece ordered by an American collector following the desire of Vacheron & Constantin to produce a watch, marking their 260th anniversary which combined traditional watchmaking principles with the latest technological advances. Also dubbed Reference 57260 the watch is a wholly original creation with a total of 57 complications, some of which are unique, including multiple calendars and a double retrograde split-seconds chronograph.

Tim carefully explained the complications being 6 time measurement functions, and those of the calendars being; 7 perpetual, 8 Hebrew, 9 astronomical, 1 lunar and 1 other religious. Just for good measure he also described, with photographs and mechanical explanation the three column wheel chronograph functions, the seven alarms, its Westminster carillon striking and a few more besides!

He also gave an interesting explanation of the different calendar cycles which had to be considered in the building of this watch and possible suggestions of how the difficulties in implementing them were overcome despite Vacheron & Constantins’ secrecy in regard to their design. Tim’s tenacity in this area shone through.

Further reference and description followed regarding the Patek Philippe Calibre 89 with particular reference to how they designed the Easter calendar mechanism.

Finally Tim told us about the theft and ultimate recovery of the Salomon collection of Breguet watches which included the one for Marie-Antoinette.

Thanks to Tim we had a thoroughly entertaining and informative evening

Presented in June 2016