Vacheron Constantin Skeletonised, Perpetual Calendar, 43032P, Platinum

£105,000
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First released in 1984, this Vacheron Constantin reference 43032* allows us a glimpse into the inner workings of a perpetual calendar complication. Combining a platinum case and a skeletonised version of the ultra-thin, automatic 1120QP movement, it represents the innovation that managed to thrive despite the Quartz Crisis. It’s also one of the rarest variants of 43032, featuring blue subdials instead of the standard white typically seen in a platinum case.

Reviving the Perpetual Calendar

The perpetual calendar has always been one of the most classic complications in horology. It was first integrated into a wristwatch in 1925, by none other than Patek Philippe. For much of the 20th century, perpetual calendars remained scarce, on account of their niche appeal and the specialised skillset needed to design and assemble one. In the wake of the Quartz Crisis, these complicated pieces continued to be exceedingly rare, as their very purpose came under threat. Indeed, this seismic event had decimated the watchmaking industry, with the number of watchmakers in Switzerland having dropped from 1,600 to 600.

However, against all odds, the perpetual calendarexperienced a revival towards the end of the 20th century. Within the span ofseven years, between 1978 and 1985, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin andPatek Philippe all introduced their own ultra-thin, automatic perpetualcalendars. These were amongst the first perpetual calendars to be produced in aseries. This marked a fundamental departure with the past, when each of themanufactures from “Holy Trinity” of watchmaking would only have produced a fewdozen of these pieces a year, at the very most. This signified a renewed faithin the future of complicated horology.

Whilst Audemars Piguet were the first out of the gate in1978, it is believed that Vacheron Constantin unveiled their automatic,ultra-thin perpetual calendar wristwatch in 1983. Rather frustratingly forPatek Philippe, this was two years before they came out with their ownreference 3940. As a starting point, Vacheron Constantin used the mythicalJaeger-LeCoultre 920, which was the thinnest automatic movement in the worldwhen it came out in 1967. They then reworked a perpetual calendar module fromDubois-Depraz, a famed module manufacturer, who has supplied Patek Philippe,Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin, amongst others. The result was theCaliber 1120 QP, which remains in production to this day, albeit in an updatedform.