Montag, 20. April 2020

Audemars Piguet, the epitome of rare vintage chronographs 13VZAQ

Dear watch aficionado.

When it comes to vintage chronographs made by Audemars Piguet, the expression of rarity can be probably considered for each of the 307 chronographs produced by the watchmakers based in Le Brassus from 1930s to 1960s (overall production including moonphases, three compax, etc...)

BUT there is rare and then there is the epitome of rare as the much sought after reference 5503 with the moonphase and full calendar and chronograph. This reference was produced in only 5 pieces in combination of steel and pink gold case, one of these was re-cased in full yellow gold and belongs to the Audemars heritage collection today. All these 5 timepieces do have the legendary 13VZAQ movement ticking in their cases. Only 20! were produced with this movement double complication (chronograph, full calendar with moonphase) so 16 in full gold cases and 4 in steel/pink gold cases (considering the one that was re-cased).

 The 5503 is certainly the epitome of vintage watch collecting. Not only that there are only 4 with steel/pink gold case, but the more, all of these 4 had a different dial design. Whereas N°46538 is the only one with blue tachymeter in Miles, combining the beautiful art déco style carré hour indexes and 2tone shade of the dial (which is made by two different ways of finissage for the main dial and sub dials). The two tone shade is very discreet and looks amazing on this watch. The more it is the only watch of these 4 that still retains a copy of the original fabrication sheets plus a note by Charles Jean Stern about the production of the dial for this watch, which says that the dial is completely gravé émaillé.

Herewith I present you the photos of the 4 examples known. Number 5 (46 539) is not know by photos only by the description of the Audemars archives (steel/gold case with the calendar in English).

46 538, in the collection of one of the greatest collector. Photo by Audemars Piguet.

On this photo you can see very well the discreet 2tone shade

Production sheet of N°46 538, the only example of the five that still retains original production notes! Photo taken from the book "Le Cadran" by Dr. Helmut Crott

Note by Charles Jean Stern, which says that the dial need to be completely gravé émaillé

45 983, in the collection of one of the greatest collectors. Photo by Audemars Piguet.

46 931, the re-cased example, 18kt yellow gold. In the Heritage collection of Audemars Piguet (Inventory 1743). Photo by Audemars Piguet.

45 980, in the Audemars Heritage collection. Inventory 237

I have always been a big fan of all the Audemars Piguet vintage chronographs. They all look amazing, great design, superb dials but the most important fact is that they only produced 307! chronographs overall from the 1930s to the 1960s, as already mentioned before. So I think that every chronograph made by Audemars in these legendary decades can be considered as a rare example, especially when comparing production numbers with the other two highly collectable brands Patek Philippe and Rolex.

Herewith I would like to thank as well Raphaël Balestra from the Audemars Piguet Archives who helped me with the photos and information for my article. I can highly recommend you to buy their book "Complicated Wristwatches".

The more I can recommend you the book "Le Cadran" by Dr. Helmut Crott, you can order it online on this link

I would like to invite you as well to take a look at the website of my boutique for the current offer of vintage and independent timepieces

Kind regards.

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