The Vacheron Constantin caliber 1137 is an automatic chronograph movement with 37 jewels, Swiss made in Geneva. This caliber can be found in the Royal Eagle and Overseas Chronograph models before VC switched to their in-house calibers.
The text on the movement reads as follows:
“Thirty-Seven / (37) Jewels / 1137 / Adjusted to Five (5) Positions / Swiss / (serial number) / 18C / Vacheron Constantin Geneve”
Some of the topics covered in this caliber listing:
Frederic Piguet Base Caliber
Although Vacheron Constantin has been part of the Richemont Group since 1996, the Vacheron Constantin caliber 1137 is based on a modified Frédéric Piguet caliber 1185. Frederic Piguet was acquired by Swatch Group along with Blancpain in 1992. FP was later (2010) absorbed into Blancpain and essentially became the manufacturer for Blancpain movements. The Frederic Piguet base caliber 1185 has been updated to be known as the Blancpain caliber F185.
The caliber 1137 is signed with Vacheron Constantin on the rotor, with a Frédéric Piguet mark located beneath the balance wheel. The logo features an FP with a horse and 3 stars. It looks to be lightly etched (possibly by laser?) into the soft frosted finish. The etching can only be seen clearly at certain angles (see video). The small section of the plate where the etching is found appears to be the only part of the movement with that frosting-like finish, so it seems intentional for the purposes of the overall design of the maker’s mark.
FP / VC Differences
The original Frederic Piguet base calibre does not include a double digit big date at 12:00. Rather, it has a standard quickset date complication (at 3:00, 6:00, 4:30, depending on the dial design). The large calendar complication was added for use in the Overseas Chronograph – which carried over to the Royal Eagle/Malte lines. FP also has a similar caliber 1188 without a date.
Editor’s Side Note: The movement powering the current Overseas Chronograph line has since been updated to the Vacheron Constantin caliber 5200. This in-house movement was introduced in 2016 and does not have a big date at 12:00 but rather a standard size date aperture between 4:00 and 5:00.
Aside from the differences in date display, other interesting observations between the VC1137 and FP1185 base are that the diameters are listed differently: Vacheron Constantin states the diameter of the cal. 1137 is 26.2mm (11 1/4”’) vs the Frederic Piguet 1185 at 25.6mm (11 1/2”’).
Also, the VC specs call for a height of 6.6mm whereas the FP height is 5.4mm. VC has been on record as quoting a power reserve of approximately 40 hours for the 1137, however, FP states 45 hours for the 1185. All of the differences uncovered here could be related to the difference in the calendar complication.
18K Gold Rotor
The rotor on the 1137 is made from solid 18K gold. It is stamped with 18C because some regions (France, Germany, Switzerland) use carat instead of karat for gold designations.
More Features of the VC 1137
Column wheel chronograph system with vertical clutch mechanism:
Three legged monometal balance wheel with flat hairspring and KIF anti-shock protection:
Triovis micrometer regulator:
The 1137 features a variety of finishing techniques that should be expected from Vacheron Constantin, including Geneva stripes, perlage, anlage, frosting etc.
Geneva Stripes (actually invented in USA, not Geneva):
Anglage aka high polish chamfered edges giving depth to the layers:
Examples of watches with the caliber VC 1137
The caliber 1137 featured here was found in this Vacheron Constantin Royal Eagle Chronograph watch. Below is a full view of the back of the watch with the caseback removed. The caseback is held in with 8 screws with an inner movement support with 6 screws. The gasket is found on the caseback and fits into the circular part of the movement holder, not around the perimeter of the tonneau shaped caseback. This is advantageous because the gasket can be easily replaced with standard round gaskets (a custom gasket like that found on an AP creates potential issues for future servicing). However, while the caseback fits snuggly into the case and is secured by the aforementioned 8 screws, there is a lot of empty space between the edge of the caseback and the protective gasket in the center, therefore moisture can potentially build up if the watch is exposed to excessive water.