LES CABINOTIERS ARMILLARY TOURBILLON
DESIGNED EXCLUSIVELY FOR ROLLS-ROYCE AMETHYST DROPTAIL
Mechanical engineering inspires boundless passions. Whether housed within a motor car or inside the case of a watch, these fuel the inexorable need to master space and time by means of dedicated artefacts. Therefore it is unsurprising that so many clients of luxury with a particular affection for motor cars are also drawn to High Watchmaking – and vice versa.
For Vacheron Constantin, this mutual attraction was reflected in a special request from one of its clients’ to create a fascia timepiece, destined to be housed in a singular coachbuilt commission – Rolls-Royce Amethyst Droptail. This request included some specific and demanding criteria. The timepiece was to blend seamlessly into the motor car’s highly bespoke interior. It had to be elegant and removable, but meet exacting engineering standards for shock resistance and robustness. Vacheron Constantin developed this single-edition Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon timepiece to perfectly complement the interior suite.
While Vacheron Constantin’s archives reveal that a watch was commissioned for an automobile in 1928, this project, to fit within a very particular Rolls-Royce Coachbuild commission, represents a first in the company’s modern history.
A TECHNICAL CHALLENGE
The two luxury houses worked closely together to ensure a seamless integration of the timepiece into the Rolls-Royce Amethyst Droptail’s fascia panel.
Vacheron Constantin’s master watchmakers worked together with the Rolls-Royce Coachbuild design team to ensure the shapes, materials and colours of the timepiece were in perfect harmony with its environment – all in keeping with Vacheron Constantin’s perpetual pursuit of excellence dedicated to the customer.
“The two centuries-old brands share a quest for perfection that consists of constantly pushing the limits of feasibility”, explains Christian Selmoni, Vacheron Constantin’s Director of Style and Heritage. “This philosophy is an excellent catalyst for innovation and good taste, both technically and aesthetically.”
AN EXCEPTIONAL CALIBRE
The watchmakers at Vacheron Constantin suggested to the client to equip this unique timepiece with the exceptional calibre 1990, a hand-wound in-house complication movement incorporating certain technical developments derived from Reference 57260, the most complicated timepiece in the world presented by the Maison in 2015.
In contrast to a flat balance-spring, the cylindrical balance-spring coupled to the balance is another technical feature of this timepiece’s mechanism. Invented by Jacques-Frédéric Houriet in 1814, this type of balance-spring without terminal curves – a particularly rare phenomenon in contemporary watchmaking – gives the tourbillon a perfectly concentric beat, thereby also ensuring enhanced isochronism and hence remarkable precision. To transmit the impulses corresponding to a rate of 18,000 vibrations per hour (2.5 Hz), Vacheron Constantin has developed an escapement consisting of a silicon escape-wheel and pallet-lever with diamond pallets – both materials that reduce friction without the need for lubrication to enhance the mechanism’s reliability. This performance is all the more remarkable in that the instantaneous double retrograde mechanism requires driving torque throughout the power reserve.
A SHARED OBSESSION WITH DETAIL
While the construction of movements – however complex, such as calibre 1990 – has been familiar territory for Vacheron Constantin since its creation in 1755, fitting them inside a motor car is altogether new. Vacheron Constantin’s mechanical engineers had to develop a holding mechanism that, above all, would meet the precise dimensions of the Rolls Royce Amethyst Droptail’s fascia compartments.
The attention devoted to details and finishing demonstrate the meticulous care lavished on the project by the Rolls Royce Coachbuild and Vacheron Constantin teams. The sapphire dial of the timepiece reveals the full beauty of Calibre 1990, including a mainplate featuring a mauve-coloured NAC galvanic coating with a circular satin finish – an original shade matching the hue of the Rolls-Royce Amethyst Droptail’s leather seats. On the dial side, the bridges are sharply cut, handbevelled and adorned with a Côtes de Genève pattern also found on the rearside bridges in the same mauve colour.
Vacheron Constantin and Rolls Royce share the same culture of devoting their expertise to meeting the most demanding personalised luxury requirements. Delivered with the car on 24 August 2023, the one-off Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Armillary Tourbillon watch is to this motor car what time measurement is to the world of speed: essential.