Vacheron Constantin 57260: The World’s Most Complicated Timepiece

Franky M.

In horology, the term "complication" refers to elements that add value to a timepiece.

The Swiss watchmakers at Vacheron Constantin spent no less than eight entire years to create the most complicated watch ever.

This amazing watch named 57260 has more than 2,800 components and 57 complications. Many of its pieces could only be introduced into a pocket model 10 centimeters in diameter weighing 960 grams, with two spheres. The front field shows up to 19 hands.

Perhaps the most surprising note about this miracle resides in the fact that it was a private collector who challenged the managers of Vacheron Constantin to create it. The identity of the buyer—who requested anonymity—is not known.

We have to specify that in watchmaking the term “complications” is used to designate added elements that increase the value of the timepiece.

The 18K white gold case of the 57260 shows the dial, three positions, and a window on the side that represents the position during winding or setting.

Among the new complications, this new pocket watch features multiple calendars and a double retrograde chronograph, with two hands for the seconds and to tell partial times—functions that didn’t exist before. To further complicate the task, the mechanisms of the most common complications were changed, which meant extra research and time.

Another great innovation— and possibly the most significant— is the Hebrew calendar. Until now it had been impossible to incorporate one in a pocket watch, given the long duration of this calendar’s cycles and the difference with the Gregorian.

The Hebrew perpetual calendar works on the principle of the Metonic cycle of 19 years (which is almost exactly a multiple of the solar year and the lunar month). In this watch, the Metonic cycle also called golden number is shown in concentric spheres at 3 o’clock.

The Yom Kippur holiday specified each year in the Gregorian calendar is, however, represented by a retrograde hand on the dial at 6 o’clock, which returns to the starting point every 19 years, a time when another Metonic cycle begins. To keep the 12-month lunar year in sync with the solar year, a thirteenth month is added seven times during 19 years.

The result has been spectacular, as is the Westminster carillon chiming with five gongs and five hammers, and the night mode, which keeps the mechanism silent from ten at night until eight o’clock the next day. Refined luxury that could only belong to a privileged owner.

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