43032 Vacheron Constantin Skeleton Quantième Perpétuel

The case could easily be made that the three ‘holy trinity’ neo-vintage perpetual calendars, the storied refs 5548, 43031, and 3940, are the most important complicated serially produced watches of the modern era, particularly the 5548 for bringing the category back. But that’s like saying David Gandy is handsome; duh. What isn’t discussed as often is the final form. Around the time Patek was getting started introducing the 3940, AP and Vacheron were readying their victory laps. And what a celebration they turned out to be. This 43032 and the AP 25558/25668 might just be the most lovely skeleton QPs the world has seen. Not just for the finishing effort, but their significance.


Rarity doesn’t hurt their case either. AP made just 422 across two references and a decade. Vacheron made 10-15 per year, leading estimates also just under 500. Most estimate between 300-400 examples of that number are in this yellow gold, the rest platinum. While most in yellow had these white subdials, there are a handful with yellow subdials as well. Production was tiny simply because the level of hand labor required was drastically higher than finishing the normal calibres. Here, the 1120 QP is skeletonized, finished classically, and then engraved entirely by hand, both front side and rear. Compared to the AP, you’ll find this case wears just slightly more masculine thanks to a more angular lug and wider bezel and you get a lapis moonphase.

Aesthetics are a matter of opinion, but it’s not arguable that these 1000 some watches across two manufactures are the ultimate celebration of Switzerland’s success returning complicated mechanical watchmaking to rightful supremacy over electrons. That really does merit the level of attention that has been poured into finishing this calibre, they knew they had just done something monumental. In fact, the 43032 was so ahead of its era that it almost feels independent in ethos, imagined from enthusiasm and not a product portfolio. It’s like seeing Queen’s final tour, Magic, in 1986. Queen knew then they were an all-time great and had created anthems. The audience knew they were looking at an all-time great act. And everyone was just there to appreciate the art form in Freddie Mercury flavor. That’s what this is, a legend. VC, you are the champions.

This example sports a full case, with no visible blemishes and strong lugs. It comes from a well-regarded Italian retailer with its original papers.