Premium watchmakers have woken up to the potential of luxury e-commerce, with the Richemont Group leading the way. Its Net-a-Porter and Mr Porter sites feature IWC, Cartier, and Jaeger-LeCoultre, among other Richemont-owned brands. The huge interest in vintage timepieces is also growing the secondary market, which has caught the attention of many luxury watch brands that have now joined the game with certified pre-owned channels. This has also prompted the release of some fine new anniversary editions and vintage-inspired collections.
Last year, Richemont acquired UK-based Watchfinder & Co., showing just how serious it is about controlling all aspects of the market. However, much like the primary market, this segment has its opportunists peddling counterfeits, so in order to safeguard transactions and guarantee the authenticity of its brand watches, Richemont is piloting a certification process, supported by blockchain technology, through its most premium offering, Vacheron Constantin. This makes it possible to create a forgery-proof digital certificate of authenticity and history, which follows the watch throughout its life, allowing for several changes of ownership.
Founded in 1755, Vacheron Constantin is the world’s oldest watch manufacture in continuous production, and innovation has been a key driving force for over 260 years — in a technical sense but also in design and time display. In 2015 the company revealed the Reference 57260, the most complicated watch ever made. At this year’s prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève their Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 won the Revival Prize, which is awarded to “a contemporary re-edition or reinterpretation of an iconic historical model”.
Vacheron’s exceptional Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar, revealed earlier this year, is the world’s first timepiece with two balances, allowing owners to switch between high-frequency “active mode” and low-frequency “standby” mode to extend the power reserve for up to an impressive 65 days.
The perpetual calendar is the complication to watch this year, and Vacheron has also introduced an update to its classically styled, ultra-thin Patrimony collection in striking 41mm pink gold case and midnight blue dial combo — the fourth variation on its eight-year-old perpetual calendar. At 4.05mm, the Patrimony’s self-winding calibre 1120 QP is not as slim as Audemars Piguet’s (AP) 2.89mm calibre 5133, with its single-level architecture seen in the Royal Oak RD#2 Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, but it’s no less impressive. To be fair, the RD#2 is also a concept watch. The base calibre 1120 was introduced in the late ’60s and also drives the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin. Incidentally, Vacheron still supplies AP with the calibre 1120 (as the AP calibre 2120) for some of its watches.
A perpetual calendar requires an exceptional master architect with miniaturisation skills to create the highly efficient and accurate movements that not only display the date, day, month, and moon phases, but which also automatically take account of the various lengths of the months and leap years. The Patrimony indicates moon phases at 6 o’clock, days of the week in a counter at 9 o’clock, dates at 3 o’clock, as well as months and leap years on 48-month counters at 12 o’clock. It can also deal with all the vagaries of the calendar until March 2100. This incredible machine and its Maltese-cross-shaped oscillating weight are on full view through a transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The calibre 1120 QP has a power reserve of 40 hours and beats at a low 19,800 vph.
• Local enquiries through RLG Africa 011-317-2600.
• From the July edition of Wanted 2019.