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Vacheron Constantin Tour de L'ile and L'Esprit des Cabinotiers Watches Review

Updated on January 6, 2015

Tour de l'ile and L'Esprit des Cabinotiers

If Vacheron Constantin jewelry watches went to stylistic extremes, the Tour de l'ile and L'Esprit des Cabinotiers (joined by grand complication watches from Malte and Patrimony collections) go to the extremes of scientific horology and engineering refinement.

By creating these timers the brand demonstrates its engineering range and proves that there are still objects that only few watchmakers can build. This is both an assertion and a challenge – to the company itself, as well as to other Swiss high-end and luxury enterprises.

Tour de l'ile

Vacheron Constantin proudly declares that the Tour de l'ile is “simply the world's most complex watch.” The wrist watch includes 16 complications overall, some of them are more conventional, others are completely new and original.

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The first category includes a tourbillon, a moon phase indicator, a minute repeater, and a power reserve indicator. These complication appear on the front dial.

The back dial includes more obscure astronomically inspired additions: perpetual time equation subdial, sunset and sunrise indicators, and a sky chart (Northern hemisphere).

Considering these complications, the perpetual calendar (date, day, month, leap years) seems almost like a simplification. The Tour de l'ile establishes a new standard for mechanical wrist watches, one that will undoubtedly take some time to replicate – not to say anything of outdo.

L'Esprit des Cabinotiers

L'Esprit des Cabinotiers is not a wrist watch – it's a clock enveloped in a mechanism reminiscent of an automaton (a figure containing a mechanical movement that brings the outer shell into motion). The golden envelope is a spheric shape constructed of eight petals (like the Lotus flower). The opening mechanism can be set into motion only by the owner, who will be given the exact details upon purchasing the Cabinotiers.

The clock features a perpetual calendar, a power reserve indicator, an additional time zone, and a minute repeater. An hour and a quarter hour repeater can be added according to a specific request. Other complications include equation of time, a moon phase indicator, and appropriately for a static instrument, a thermometer.

Could this clock mark a new direction for Vacheron Constantin? I doubt that the mechanism of this specific automaton can compare to the little masterpieces of Jaquet Droz – and Vacheron Constantin probably haven't defined such a purpose for itself. Rather, the L'Esprit des Cabinotiers is more about the inner mechanism, the complications and the movement of the clock itself – which is why, in its nature, the Cabinotiers is more akin to wrist watches – like the ultra-complex Tour de l'ile.


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