Vacheron Constantin - The Geneva Watch Auction: XVII Geneva Saturday, May 13, 2023 | Phillips

    • Manufacturer: Vacheron Constantin
      Year: 1994
      Reference No: 43050/000J
      Movement No: 798'182
      Case No: 656'822, Prototype N°3
      Model Name: Mercator
      Material: 18K yellow gold
      Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1120/2, 36 jewels
      Bracelet/Strap: Leather
      Clasp/Buckle: 18K yellow gold Vacheron Constantin deployant clasp
      Dimensions: 36mm in Diameter
      Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
      Accessories: Accompanied by Vacheron Constantin Certificate of Origin dated December 21st, 1994, confirming the present timepiece to be the 3rd out of 7 prototypes made and uniquely depicting the "Suisse Romande" region, product literature, loupe, fitted wooden presentation box and outer packaging.

    • Catalogue Essay

      The present Mercator with enamel dial depicting the map of the south-west area of Switzerland is both rare and historically relevant as it is not only one of the original prototypes made to test the model but it also features a dial that has never been used since. Launched in 1994, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the celebrated Flemish/German cartographer’s passing, Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), the Vacheron Constantin Mercator can be considered an elegant and equally avant-garde timepiece with its two retrograde hands and enameled dial. In 1569 the cartographer developed a projection that now bears his name and still used today, which rendered the configuration of the terrestrial globe on to a flat surface and became the standard for nautical purposes.

      The history of the present Vacheron Constantin Mercator is as unique and fascinating as the process itself. Part of a unique series of 7 prototypes made before the official launch of the model, the present Prototype N° 03, as confirmed on the dial, represents part of the "Suisse Romande"(French speaking region of Switzerland) and of France and Italy. Based on the Helvetia cum finitimis regionibus confoederatis map of Mercator made in 1585, the dial depicts the French speaking cantons of Geneva, Vaud, Valais and Fribourg with its mountains and lakes separated by colorful broad borders. Interestingly, only one city is mentioned at 3 o'clock, the one of Arzier situated in the hills above Geneva Lake. Not knowing its exact signification, one can only assume that Arzier must have been of high importance to the commissioner/receiver of the timepiece. According to research and its Certificate of Origin, other prototype dials were produced, most notably featuring Italy, Eurasia, and the Americas. These prototypes were made to test the movement and dials but were never made publicly available. Housing the extra flat caliber 1120, modified for a bi-retrograde time indication, the hands progress divergently across two arc-shaped zones, one graduated from 1 to 12 hours and the other from 0 to 60 minutes. Each hand returns instantly to zero on exactly completing one half day and one hour respectively. Measuring 36mm in diameter, the case is extremely comfortable on the wrist and is certain to captivate the attention of collectors regardless of the occasion. Exceptionally well-preserved, offered with its original accessories and never seen in the market with this prototype dial before, the present Mercator is truly spectacular and highly collectable, and is certainly made for style-conscious connoisseurs of rare and remarkable timepieces.

    • Artist Biography

      Vacheron Constantin

      Swiss • 1755

      The world's oldest watch brand in continuous operation since its founding in 1755, Vacheron Constantin was the first watch company to manufacture movements with interchangeable parts beginning in 1839. Vacheron's watches are admired for their Latin-influenced case designs, well-balanced proportions and exquisitely finished movements of the highest quality. The Geneva-based manufacturer is known for their highly complicated masterpieces, including the King Farouk Grand Complication made in 1935, the Tour de l'Ile that was the most complicated serially produced wristwatch when introduced in 2005 and the 57260 — the world’s most complicated watch — made in 2015.

      Key vintage models include minute repeating wristwatches such as the references 4261, chronographs such as the references 4178 and 6087 and the oversized Cioccolotone models such as ref. 4737. Collectors also appreciate Vacheron's Chronometer Royal pocket and wristwatches, as well as the '222,' the brand's first luxury sports watch produced from 1977 through 1984.

      View More Works


Ref. 43050/000J
An avant-garde and vibrant yellow gold prototype wristwatch with retrograde hours and minutes, polychrome cloisonné enamel dial depicting part of Switzerland, certificate of origin and presentation box, part of a unique 7 piece prototype series

36mm in Diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

Full Cataloguing

CHF20,000 - 40,000 

Sold for CHF76,200

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

+41 79 637 17 24

Tiffany To
Head of Sale, Geneva

+41 79 460 55 88

The Geneva Watch Auction: XVII

Geneva Auction 13 - 14 May 2023