The Vacheron Constantin ref. 43040 features an unconventional, visually appealing way of displaying time. With only 250 pieces made in yellow gold between 1993 and 1995, the manufacture took inspiration from the jump hour complication of the past. This watch in particular has developed a warm pink tone to the engine turned dial, a patina unique to this watch having left the factory white.
The Birth of Jump Hour Watches
For a remarkably long period, time has been displayed in a predictable and familiar manner.
We’ve come to expect all watches to feature separate hands for the hours, minutes and seconds, which glide across the dial at their own pace – something we are all taught as children. It seems like one of those areas of watchmaking that are so fundamental that they cannot be replaced, such that even an Apple Watch embraces this type of display.
However, some watchmakers have challenged this approach. In our eyes, one of the most compelling alternatives can be found in jump-hour watches. These forgo the traditional hands and instead feature a series of discs in different configurations which jump at certain transitions, hence their name. Despite having first appeared in the 19th century, this innovative way of displaying the time has seen mixed success over time.
It rose in popularity in the early 20th century, when the likes of Cartier, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet embraced the contrarian approach embodied by jump-hour watches, going hand in hand with the spirit of the time. Forward thinkers such as Gary Cooper or Duke Ellington embraced the concept wholeheartedly. Then they all but disappeared before resurfacing decades later, as brands and independent watchmakers yet again took a more contrarian approach. The likes of Daniel Roth, Vianney Halter, MB&F, De Bethune, and François-Paul Journe all rediscovered the jump hour.