VZASC Audemars Piguet Calatrava
Valjoux’s VZ series of calibres has been found under the name of Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, and what we see here: AP. What is not as easily understood is just why that series of movements deserved to prove so popular among the most esteemed manufactures of the 1940s and 50s. The sheer levels of quality that the VZ series reached both in architecture and finishing so far exceeded the required brief that today the calibre serves as a testament to the ambition of long-departed Swiss watchmakers (and won it many observatory chronometer competitions in period). For all its successes and the multitude of luxury wristwatches the calibre powered, today the VZ is perhaps best known as serving for architecture inspiration for Philippe Dufour’s Simplicity prototypes.
The movement is recognizable in time-only form for its large and robust 3/4 plate. The balance has a blued overcoil hairspring and a fully anglaged half bridge. Even the barrel wheel has fully polished and anglaged teeth, which is a tremendous amount of attention and work. The VZ hails from an era where finishing techniques were aimed toward accomplishing better accuracy, rather than accomplishing beauty for its own sake.
This 1950s example from AP comes in a yellow gold 35mm case with full spider lugs. It features an early screw back case, back when that was classed as a technology. The ‘ASC’ after VZ marks two things: a running central seconds, and a slightly latter calibre whose barrel and crown wheels basically swapped positions. A simple small change to gear train architecture and Calatrava, nothing more. The matched grained gold dial features applied indices and 12-3-6-9 in Roman numerals. In both historic contributions and outright elegance, it would be hard to find more Calatrava for the value.
This example has a strong case with sharp lugs. The dial is clear of any significant marks. No hand strikes, no corrosion, no spotting. Its movement appears free of any trouble and is said to be running well. It comes from a small, well-regarded Dutch retailer.
Find this VZASC Calatrava here from Vintage Times Amsterdam for 40500 USD.