THE WORLD’S THINNEST WATCH BY VACHERON & CONSTANTIN £3250
Item description: A beautiful 18K yellow gold example of what was the world’s thinnest watch, created by the house of Vacheron & Constantin in 1952. This watch from 1960 has the famous calibre 1003 movement, with a thickness of just 1.64mm. The watch, reference 6335, has a wonderfully simple circular case style, with a finely milled ring. A particularly nice touch is the crown, which also recieved a milled finish, and sits within the milled ring. Complementing the case, is a champagne silver dial with gold applied battons, and the brand name, Vacheron & Constantin. The watch is manual wind calibre 1003, which is nicely finished with Geneva Stripes. The movement has adjustments to five positions. This watch has the Titanium cage around the movement, which Vacheron & Constantin used to protect the thin movement (initial production did not have the Titaium cage, and there had been issues of the movement being damaged during wear). The inside of the case-back bears the full Vacheron & Constantin name and logos, along with 0.750 gold content, and serial numbers. The watch has a black crocodile strap, along with a non-branded gold finished buckle.
Size: 35mm x 35mm
Condition report: Case in excellent to near mint condition. Dial original and with a pleasing patination. The gold applied battons also with a pleasing patination. Movement clean and in working condition (no warranty implied). The strap and buckle remaining in excellent condition. The timepiece may have been opened, so it should not be used near moisture or water without being checked by a qualified watchmaker.
Background to the world’s thinnest watch: In 1952, Vacheron Constantin produced the world’s slimmest wrist watch movement. The company had already moved down this path in the previous year, after launching their movement calibre 1001, which was just 2.94mm thick. The new calibre 1003, which was just 1.64mm was to be launched three years later in 1955, since this was Vacheron & Constantin’s bicentenary. The new calibre 1003 was housed in three especially produced circular cases of differing styles at the 1955 Basel Watch Fair, achieving the accolade of being the world’s thinnest manual winding movement. The thinness of the watch could possibly lead to it being bent if it was tied too tightly to the wrist and therefore to prevent such damage, 2 screws higher than the others acted as safety to prevent the case from coming into contact with the movement. At a later date the movement was placed in an inner titanium cage to avoid any tension and prevent any possibility of the movement being bent.
Background to Vacheron & Constantin: The Geneva-based watchmaker Jean-Marc Vacheron started producing watches in 1755. By 1770, his company created the first complication, and nine years later he designed the first engine-turned dials. The son of Jean-Marc Vacheron, Abraham, took over the family business in 1785. During this period, the company was able to survive the French Revolution (1789–1799). Later, in 1810, Jacques-Barthélemy Vacheron, the grandson of the founder, became the head of the company. He was the first to initiate the company’s exports to France and Italy, but realized he was not able to handle his business alone. In order to travel overseas and sell the company’s products, he needed a partner. As such, in 1819 François Constantin became an associate of Vacheron, and not long after, the company was re-named, Vacheron & Constantin. François Constantin travelled around the world marketing the company’s watches.
Vacheron and Constantin hired the watch-maker and inventor, Georges-Auguste Leschot, in 1833, whose job was to supervise the manufacturing operations. Leschot was a natural inventor, and his creations turned out to be particularly successful for the company. It was Leschot who standardized watch movements into Calibers, a system then used by all watch-makers. In 1844, Leschot was awarded with a gold medal. The Arts Society of Geneva highly appreciated his pantographic device, a device that was able to mechanically engrave small watch parts and dials. This invention pushed Vacheron & Constantin forward much further than other watchmakers. Later, after Constantin’s death in 1854, and Vacheron’s death in 1863, the company was taken over by a series of heirs.
In 1862, Vacheron Constantin became a member of the Association for Research into non-magnetic materials. In 1885, the company created the first nonmagnetic timepiece which included a complete lever assortment made of materials able to withstand magnetic fields. Its construction included a balance wheel, balance spring and lever shaft that were made of palladium, the lever arms—in bronze and the escape wheel was in gold. In 1877, “Vacheron & Constantin, Fabricants, Geneve” became the official name of the company. In 1880, Vacheron & Constantin started using its symbol, which is kept till nowadays, the Maltese cross. The latter was inspired by a component of the barrel. The part had a cross-shape and it was used for limiting the tension within the mainspring
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