Inspired by the work of the pioneering cartographer Gerardus Mercator, this Vacheron Constantin Mercator 43050 integrates one of the most unusual ways of displaying time. The piece combines two retrograde hands, with the hours jumping every 60 minutes, against a map depicting Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Origins of the Mercator
A great admirer of Mercator’s work, Jean Genbrugge chose to create a wristwatch which honoured the cartographer’s legacy.
He approached Claude-Daniel Proellochs, the CEO of Vacheron Constantin at the time, who is said to have been instantly captivated by the project, which began a long-standing relationship between the watchmaker and the executive.
Over the 10-year lifespan of the model, it is understood that only 638 pieces were produced, which averages out to less than 64 pieces a year.
A talented watchmaker as well as enameller, Jean Genbrugge also produced the double retrograde mechanism that has become synonymous with these limited pieces. With several different variations in existence, depicting different corners of the globe, the Mercator pieces are unusually signed on the dial with “J&L Genbrugge” – a rare gesture, considering brands have historically kept enamellers in the shadows.