Vacheron Constantin has long set the standard for watches out of this world, but the brand’s ultimate astronomical super-complication is a piece that will leave no one indifferent to its class. The one-of-a-kind wristwatch Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600 is a double-sided mechanical wonder. Its price tag is also astronomical and comes at about $1 million, but it is justified.
This is a piece of multiple qualities aside from the striking number of its complications, which the company has tallied at 23. They are also brilliantly themed and organized. The complications fall into three groups: civil (conventional) time and calendar functions, solar time, and sidereal time. As both solar and sidereal time vary slightly from civil time, each group of complications is driven by its own corrected gear train radiating from the movement’s central wheel for greater accuracy. The solar gear train drives functions includes a marching equation of time, sunrise and sunset times, length of day, and seasonal indications. These are all represented on the front dial with civil-time functions such as the perpetual calendar, moon phase, and an interesting tide indicator with a depiction of the sun, Earth, and lunar orbital positions.
On the back of the astronomical super-complication are such celestial functions as a star chart composed of two rotating sapphire disks with a starry sky over the sandblast-finish movement plates. The watch’s remarkable compactness is even more noteworthy than its multiplicity of functions. At 45 mm in diameter and just 13.6 mm thick, the timepiece is the same size as most sports watches—a reality made possible through carefully designed components, some of which created with advanced photolithography fabrication techniques. However, this does not take away from the ease of reading the dial, which is a truly striking combination and one difficult to achieve.