The unique Les Cabinotiers Minute repeater ultra-thin – A romantic note is powered by the 1731 calibre, an ultra-thin movement featuring carefully studied acoustics. Its classic style exuding a very refined look, embellished with Arabic numerals appearing in an original font on a Grand Feu enamel dial, makes this 41 mm-diameter timepiece a timepiece for connoisseurs: only the minute repeater slide piece hints at its true nature as a complicated watch.
The history of the 1731 calibre
The main characteristic of the 1731 calibre (thus named in a nod to Jean-Marc Vacheron’s birth year) is its extreme thinness for a minute repeater movement. At just 3.90 mm, it is only slightly thicker than its predecessor – the 1755 calibre dating from 1992 – because of its impressive 65-hour power reserve. It took four years to solve this most complex equation: to create a minute repeater movement, combining slimness, a pure sound, pleasing aesthetics, reliability and robustness.
Moreover, the technical feats are not confined to the challenge of extreme thinness, since the 1731 calibre is equipped with one of the most ingenious devices developed in 2007 for the 2755 movement – another member of this exclusive family of minute repeater calibres – a flying strike governor that is entirely silent, unlike conventional lever-type governors, and is tasked with regulating the rate at which hammers strike the gongs.
Acoustics, the real raison d’être of a minute repeater, was the focus of attention. To ensure the sound is crystal clear and perfectly harmonious, several different technical choices had to be made. The gongs are thus not only connected to the case middle so as to amplify the sound, but also superimposed, rather than aligned side by side.
The two pink gold cases are designed to form a single entity with the movement, in a composition that incorporates such subtle parameters as the circulation of air between the mechanism and the case in order to ensure optimal note propagation. The case has also been seamlessly constructed so that the elements can interact metal to metal and thus increase the amplitude of the sound.
Les Cabinotiers Minute repeater ultra-thin – A romantic touch is presented with an 18K 5N pink gold case measuring 41 mm in diameter and just 8.5 mm thick. This one-of-a-kind model features a dial crafted in Grand Feu enamel, one of the most demanding enamelling techniques, of which the “eggshell” colour blends perfectly with the aesthetics of the model.
Exuding an aura of unmistakable classicism, inspired by reference 4261 – an extremely understated Vacheron Constantin minute repeater watch dating from 1941 – this model is spiced up with an original font used for the railroad and the leaning Arabic black enamelled numerals. Slim hollow-tipped hands complete the “romantic” appearance of this piece, which is fitted with a brown alligator leather strap. Only the presence of slide piece on the left side of the case hints at the complexity of a minute repeater housed in this watch with its pure design. A watch for connoisseurs.
Les Cabinotiers: one-of-a-kind creations
In the Vacheron Constantin universe, Les Cabinotiers represents a department in its own right dedicated to the personalisation of pieces and unique creations. This tradition dates back to the 18th century, a time when master watchmakers were called cabinotiers and worked in ateliers bathed in natural light, known as cabinets and located on the top floors of Geneva’s buildings. In the hands of these learned artisans, open to the new ideas of the Enlightenment, exceptional timepieces were born, inspired by astronomy, mechanical engineering and the arts. This expertise, which constitutes the great Geneva watchmaking tradition, has been flowing through Vacheron Constantin’s veins since 1755.
Vacheron Constantin and chiming watches
Chiming watches occupy a special place among horological complications. For more than two centuries, these complex mechanisms have been highlighted by Vacheron Constantin. Today, Les Cabinotiers department has chosen to pay tribute to them through one-of-a-kind creations on the theme “La Musique du temps”.
Born from the need to tell the time in the dark in an age when people had to rely on candlelight, “audible” watches have taken various forms: repeaters (indicating the hours and sometimes the quarters and minutes on request), sonnerie (striking) watches (indicating the hours and quarters in passing) and alarms (which can be programmed to ring at specific times).
While each of these complications has its own distinctive characteristics, they all combine an integrated and complex mechanism with the finely crafted nature of musical instruments in terms of their resonance, acoustics and harmonics. Featuring watch cases equipped with complex movements as their only means of musical expression, these creations represent a magnificent feat of miniaturisation.
At Vacheron Constantin, the first mention of a chiming watch dates back to 1806: a gold pocket watch with minute repeater registered by the founder’s grandson Jacques-Barthélemy, in the very first production register kept in the company’s archives. Ever since, sonnerie or repeater watches have been an integral part of the Manufacture’s proud heritage, steadily enriched over the decades.