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The AED 4 million Vacheron Constantin watch that “nobody needs”

Words by Rob Chilton

A one-of-a-kind piece from a specialised department

Deep inside Vacheron Constantin HQ is Les Cabinotiers, a department that produces single-piece watches relating to a theme, which this year is Celestial Time and the astronomical origins of time measurement.

Watchmakers at Vacheron Constantin are currently constructing this year’s watch, the Armillary Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Planetaria, worth around AED 4.3 million and due to be delivered to its secret buyer towards the end of 2021.

Titanium globes show the Earth's hemispheres

The Planetaria has spent four years in development and, among its many dazzling features, includes two globes that represent the northern and southern hemispheres.

Alexander Schmiedt, regional brand director for Vacheron Constantin, admits, “We all agree nobody needs such a watch to tell the time, and nobody needs to know how time moves in the northern and southern hemisphere. But in watchmaking you always try to do things that have never been done before and push the limits in creativity, precision and beauty – that’s exactly what this piece does.”

The watch has already ben acquired by a mystery customer

The Les Cabinotiers watchmakers collaborate closely on such a complicated watch. “You must have different technical and design forces working together,” Schmiedt tells EDGAR. “If you have the right team they will push each other to new heights, but the wrong team will block each other.” There must be a lot of compromise? “Yes, of course, but compromise can bring innovation.”

The spherical hairspring is a key technical component

For Schmiedt, the most impressive achievement of the watch is how all the elements come together. “Two turning globes, a double axis tourbillon, the spherical hairspring – it’s like a concerto,” he smiles. “This watch is made to be a spectacle, it’s on the stage.”

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