Vacheron Constantin Pre-SIHH 2019Written by Alvin Wong
The Grand Complication Phoenix is as advertised.
You like your watches loaded with technical might while being thoroughly unique all at once? Vacheron Constantin’s got your back. In fact, the world’s longest running Swiss watch manufacture practically has it resting against a gilded throne with the Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix, a watch so majestic that it deserves a mini palace of its own.
At the heart of the watch is the Calibre 2755, one of Vacheron Constantin’s most complicated movements ever. Introduced back in 2010, the dual-faced movement comprises 602 parts and boasts 15 complications, including a tourbillon, perpetual calendar, minute repeater, and a host of celestial displays such as a sky and seasons chart. It is astounding to think that a mechanical engine of such complexity and sophistication is able to sit comfortably on the wrist.
Equally mind-blowing, though, is the movement’s ornamental housing, from which the watch gets its name. The likeness of the phoenix wraps around the pink gold case, its scales and feathers depicted with great, three-dimensional detail, courtesy of bas relief hand-engraving technique. It is said this technique requires at least 10 years of experience to master, and at Vacheron Constantin, each engraver takes over 300 hours to decorate the case.
The ‘Les Cabinotiers’ prefix is reserved for one-of-a-kind – and sometimes, bespoke – Vacheron Constantin timepieces that bear the brand’s highest technical and decorative expressions, sort of like the watch equivalent of the best song on a Greatest Hits album. The melding of artisanship and extreme engineering has to be on-point and utterly apparent from the get-go, such that even the non-watch lovers will know that greatness is on parade when they encounter the timepiece. And the Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Phoenix inspires exactly that sort of awe.
Alvin promises not to be a douche when talking about watches. He may have scoured the Basel and Geneva watch fairs for the past 15 years, and played an instrumental role to the growth of Singapore's pioneering horological and men's lifestyle publications, but the intrepid scribe seeks to learn something new with each story he writes.