The Vacheron Constantin Philosophia, is in and of itself a paradox. It brilliantly sets the scene for the peaceful coexistence of Fine Watchmaking and approximate time. The original idea was based on the postulate that mankind does not need to constantly know the exact time to the nearest minute. In some parts of the world, making an appointment “in the morning” or “in the evening” is quite sufficient to allow two people to meet. In the same spirit, knowing that it is 12 or 17 minutes past ten o’clock does not make the Philosophia’s owner any happier or unhappier. However, while this man has decided on a lifestyle of displaying approximate time, he is no less a connoisseur of excellence. Far from being indifferent, he is in fact a Fine Watchmaking enthusiast and a major collector of timepieces.
The Philosophia conveys all of these things at once. Based on a model from the Patrimony collection, it has only one hand in the centre, the hour hand, with a 24-hour display, allowing the approximate hour to be read without worrying about the minutes. But if the owner wants a more exact idea of the time at any given moment, he simply engages the on-off slide of the Philosophia*’s minute repeater, which reveals the exact hour, quarter hour and minute. If the hand is a little before 6 o’clock, the chime will sound five times on a low note, three times on a low-to-high note pair, and, for example, twelve times on a high note. That means it is exactly 5:57.