I’ll tell you one thing for sure — it’s a good thing this is the award for Best Complication and not Best Name. In purely technical terms, the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication is the undisputed heavyweight champion of 2017. I’m obligated to mention here that this watch has 23 complications, but I will also say in my best Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson voice that it doesn’t matter. How can the number of complications not matter in a complications category, you cry. Because we’re awarding for Best and not Most, I reply with crushing logic.
What, then, is the Best Complication as embodied in the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication? It is the tripartite representation of time in the form of mean solar time, real solar time and sidereal time.
We now briefly interrupt this horological encomium to explain a little bit more about the various kinds of time. Mean solar time is the system of 24-hour days and 365-day years that humans invented as a coping mechanism to help them deal with the fact that (surprise, surprise!) there aren’t 24 hours in a real solar day or 365 days in a real solar year. Sidereal time is measured in reference to the stars that live way out in other solar systems instead of in reference to the star sitting right smack in the middle of ours. It seems a little pointless, but then again so do most things done by humans. Simultaneously expressing mean solar, real solar and sidereal time with a single 2.5Hz (18,000vph) oscillator is like using the same metronome beat to play Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, Kraftwerk’s Greatest Hits and a 45-minute Buddy Rich jazz drum solo all at the same time.
And now back to our regularly scheduled tribute. The Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication unites these three wildly different rhythms of time and does it with coherence and clarity, with a running equation-of-time indication (extra-special jumbo bonus!) that intuitively expresses the essential difference between mean solar and real solar time. For this reason, the Best Complication award goes to the Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication. (No dice in the Best Name category, though.)