The Ref. 57260 is made in 18-karat white gold, polished with glazed bezels on each side. Each side of the watch also has a dial made of silver, and rotating discs for the displays made of lightweight aluminum.
Geneva--Swiss watchmaker Vacheron Constantin has unveiled what is says is the most complicated watch in the world, a creation nearly nine years in the making.

Called the Ref. 57260, the one-of-a-kind, double-dial pocket watch boasts 57 complications and more than 2,800 components. The brand said it is not releasing the price or value of the timepiece, per the wishes of the anonymous collector who commissioned it.

Among the complications are new mechanisms that have never been seen before in watchmaking, among them the double retrograde “rattrapante” chronograph. This new chronograph is read by the user in the same manner as a classic split-seconds chronograph. What makes it unique is the fact that while both hands still work in unison from the same axis, they never actually meet. They operate on two separate scales on opposing sides of the dial.

In this respect, it can best be described as a “detached” split-seconds chronograph, Vacheron Constantin said.

Another new mechanism is the dual-function perpetual calendar, which gives the watch the ability to provide three entirely different perpetual calendar readings, one for the Hebrew calendar and two for the Gregorian.

Vacheron Constantin said due to the long-term changing cycles of the Hebrew calendar and its differences from the Gregorian calendar, the making of a complete, functioning mechanical Hebraic perpetual calendar had been impossible until the Ref. 57260. “Highly complicated mathematical calculations combining both the lunar months and solar year were transcribed into not only an operational mechanism but a display that is elegant, logical and easy to read,” the brand said. “This achievement cannot be overstated as an example of contemporary watchmaking genius.”

The Gregorian perpetual calendar, meanwhile, automatically corrects itself for the appropriate number of days in the month, and the leap years can be read on the dial using the retrograde date, the days of the week and months dials. Two possible options are available for the Gregorian perpetual calendar: either the traditional calendar, or the business calendar system, known as ISO 8601, a numerical system that utilizes 52 weeks and seven days.

When it comes to chiming, the watch has three possible striking modes: striking, where it chimes automatically at each passing quarter hour; night silence, when chiming is automatically disabled for anywhere from eight to 22 hours; and silence, where the chiming can be switched off when it is not desired.

The “armillary” tourbillon cage containing the watch’s escapement is visible through the aperture beneath the sky chart. The cage received its name because it is reminiscent of the circles and rings of the scientific instrument known as the armillary sphere. It was placed on the second dial side, complementing the astronomical functions to suggest the apparent movement of the stars, sun and the ecliptic around the earth.

The armillary sphere tourbillon was “made of the lightest of materials,” Vacheron Constantin said, to minimize the effects of gravity on the balance wheel, hairspring and pallet fork of the escapement. The tourbillon essentially is a revolving platform and cage upon which the entire escapement is mounted, making one full rotation every minute. In this tourbillon, the escapement is rotated in three planes at once.

 


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