Auctions An Exclusive Look At The Documents Behind The Vacheron Constantin ‘Don Pancho’ Minute Repeater
Last week, I distributed this tale about the extraordinary Vacheron Constantin minute repeater with retrograde schedule hitting the square this upcoming end of the week at Phillips in Geneva. From that point forward, I’ve had various incredible discussions with Christian Selmoni, the style and legacy chief at Vacheron Constantin about this present watch’s story and why it’s so exceptional. Something that sets the purported “Wear Pancho” separated is the way fastidious the documentation is on the backend. This both permits us to have confidence in the credibility of the watch and empowered Vacheron to reestablish the development and make the new dial reliably. You gotta love individuals who keep great records.
Christian was sufficiently caring to share a portion of the numerous archives that Vacheron used to check the credibility of the Don Pancho, down to a significant number of its generally novel and bizarre attributes. This incorporates unique portrayals and depictions from the soonest days of the task through to the letters to and fro between Vacheron HQ and Brooking in Madrid. This is extremely cool stuff, and not the sort of supporting material that you will see frequently out in the open.
Let’s stroll through the archives individually, following the narrative of the Don Pancho. (Note: The letters are in French, so I’ve summarized or cited in English interpretation where helpful.)
Letter From Brooking To Vacheron & Constantin – December 27, 1935
This is the place where everything begins. Close to the last part of 1935, Francisco Martinez Llano (Mr. Wear Pancho himself) demands an exceptional piece through his neighborhood Madrid retailer, Brooking, who at that point send this letter to Vacheron & Constantin (as the firm was known at that point). They demonstrate that their client is keen on a minor departure from model 3233, ideally needing a watch that combines both a repeater development and schedule/moonphase signs. Brooking requests statements and portrayals for both a plain repeater and a watch that combines everything the client needs into a marginally larger than usual gold watch. Indeed, even the inclination for an intelligible radium dial is mentioned.
Early Design Sketches – December 1935
From there, Vacheron began portraying out what these watches may resemble. As you can see here, there are a couple of various cycles, however the sketch stamped “Undertaking B” is the thing that will proceed to become the last watch. A this stage, the crown the still on the correct side of the case and the repeater slide is as yet on the correct side of the case, yet the schedule markers are obviously noticeable in their last (or last ish) positions.
Beginning Design Approval – January 23, 1936
It turns out there was a significantly more lavish variant of this watch proposed, that in the end was turned somewhere around the customer. In this letter, Brooking discloses to Vacheron that “our client has chosen to surrender the variant being referred to and has gotten back to the yellow gold wristwatch: all in all, the all-yellow gold wristwatch, as per sketch shape “B,” with twisting crown at 12 o’clock and repeater (with seconds). We would be appreciative in the event that you could educate us regarding cost for this model and the time needed to deliver it (Complete with an extra dial).” Here we get affirmation of the last shape and format of the watch, alongside the presence of two dials from the beginning.
Request Confirmation – February 4, 1936
Well, presently it’s an ideal opportunity to make a watch. In this letter, Brooking affirms the custom request to Vacheron, laying out precisely what the watch needs to have upon conveyance. The request is for “one all yellow gold wristwatch of the shape and size appeared in the encased sketch “B.” Hour, quarter, and moment repeater (most profound conceivable tone). Twisting crown at 12 o’clock, repeater pusher on the left side, according to the sketch, retrograde schedule. Day of the week, seconds: on a similar dial. One dial with polish numerals; one dial with radium-covered hours, numerals, and hands. Bearing the engraving “Vacheron Constantin and Brooking Madrid”; six coordinating top-quality cowhide ties. Tradable framework for the situation and clasp. Dull blue lacquer case etching, as per the sketch of the monogram which we will send you shortly…”
The Monogram – February 10, 1936
As guaranteed, Brooking at that point sent the monogram subtleties to the Vacheron & Constantin for the caseback etching, which would be delivered in dull blue lacquer. This letter follows not exactly seven days after the underlying request letter and shows that encased is a sketch of the monogram that ought to be duplicated on the watch at 1:1 scale. The very much protected lacquer monogram is quite possibly the most appealing highlights of the Don Pancho. It’s likewise fascinating to note now how rapidly the cycle is moving along. One may envision that during the 1930s it would require a very long time to get a task like this going, yet Brooking and Vacheron & Constantin took it from an unpleasant plan to a request with the subtleties in order in simply a question of weeks.
The Movement – February 10, 1936
The same day that Brooking was sending through the monogram data, Vacheron was reacting for certain recommendations about the development and the last design of the watch. Since Brooking and Don Pancho needed the crown at 12 o’clock, VC encouraged them to utilize a Lépine type (where the seconds are in accordance with the crown) and to put the repeater slide at three o’clock rather than nine o’clock. This letter additionally incorporates depictions of the two dials – silver dial bearing lacquer numerals and radium dial combined with radium hands. At long last, we get a last value statement of CHF 3,500, and assessed conveyance date of June 15, and a stock of extra parts to be incorporated with the last watch (counting some additional precious stones and straps).
The Calendar Mechanism – February 20, 1936
In this letter, Vacheron & Constantin checks in with Brooking to ensure that the client has a full and exact comprehension of what he’s getting. Since the watch doesn’t have a month marker, Vacheron has decided to go with a schedule instrument that is not a ceaseless schedule. The worry is that if the watch were left loosened up for quite a while, it would be practically difficult to figure out where in the year it was, accordingly making it likely that you’d have a schedule following some unacceptable month at some random time. To evade this, they selected a basic schedule that could be changed with negligible quarrel, utilizing the two corrector pins at the lower part of the watch. It’s especially fascinating to perceive how VC’s watchmakers and planners were thinking at that point, critical thinking for the advancement of the customer.
History & Delivery – June 12, 1936
This is the place where things get truly fascinating. Simply a month prior to the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, Brooking recognizes a past letter from Vacheron & Constantin that demonstrated the watch wouldn’t be prepared until July 1936 (rather than the recently guage June). Notwithstanding, incidentally, that isn’t an issue, as Don Pancho has escaped Spain for South America because of the political disturbance. The war would go on until April 1939 and, as we probably are aware, the watch didn’t advance toward Don Pancho until January 1940, an entire nine months after the war finished. Brooking notes in this letter that the main thing is getting the watch right, not hurrying its creation, and that they have full confidence in their customer, regardless of the way that he actually had not paid for the watch in any way.
For more on the Don Pancho, make certain to look at my active story here , just as our beginning report about the watch coming up for sale . This watch is Lot 109 in the upcoming Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: Nine, occurring May 11-12, 2019. It conveys a pre-deal gauge of CHF 400,000–800,000.