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Sought-after Vacheron Constantin ‘Don Pancho’ could fetch more than £600k at auction

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Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, has discovered a sought-after Vacheron Constantin minute repeater yellow gold wristwatch with retrograde calendar from 1940. Known as the ‘Don Pancho’ after its owner’s nickname, Phillips has estimated the watch could fetch between CHF 400,000-800,000 when it goes under the hammer at the Geneva Watch Auction NINE in May. Revealed in a book over 20 years ago, the watch has spent the past 60 years in a private vault. Aurel Bacs, senior consultant of Bacs & Russo and Alex Ghotbi, Head of Sales in Geneva commented in a joint statement. They said: “We believe this is one of the most important wristwatches in the world. Previously, the only record of this watch being made was a black and white picture of the watch, which fascinated us. Both of us have been dreaming and talking about this watch for years, and finally, we can say it is not a myth, but a real treasure.” The duo continued: “There was, in the 1930s, no other calendar wristwatch with retrograde date and minute repeater, so it was a revolutionary watch, made to measure for a very important patron. Given that there is nothing like it and that it is the masterpiece of Vacheron Constantin’s wristwatch production of the 20th century, we believe this watch is the very definition of a museum quality timepiece.” The watch was made in December 1935 when Vacheron Constantin received a letter from Madrid-based retailer Brooking who, on behalf of a client, wished to commission a watch. The order combined a large yellow gold tonneau case, a crown at twelve, a minute repeater with the lowest possible notes. It also asked for a repeater trigger on the right side of the case, day, retrograde date, and his initials in blue enamel on the caseback. Additionally, the order required two dials, one with enamelled black Breguet numerals and the other with radium numerals, both with all twelve numerals, and 6 straps which are easily changeable. Only three wristwatches featuring calendar indications and a minute repeating mechanism made before the end of the 1940s are known today. That group consists of a Patek Philippe that is in the Patek Philippe Museum, the James Schultz made circa 1930 that is in a private collection, and the ‘Don Pancho’. It is being offered at the auction with its original dial as well as duplicate documents and various sketches from the Vacheron Constantin archives retracing the evolution of the watch from original order to completion.

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Alex Douglas

The author Alex Douglas

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