Vacheron Constantin What Vacheron Constantin’s pre-SIHH 2017 models reveal about the brand’s future
I got my hands on the two Vacheron Constantin pre-SIHH models at the brand’s flagship store on Place Longemalle in Geneva. Both of them gave me food for thought.
It can quite often be worthwhile to take a moment to digest the news of some important watch launches before wading in with a preview or an opinion, and this seems to be particularly true for the two pre-SIHH 2017 models presented recently by Vacheron Constantin: The Patrimony moon phase with retrograde date and the Traditionnelle Minute Repeater. First of all, even in the absence of the Watches and Wonders show in Hong Kong this year, which was increasingly being used as a springboard to present certain talking pieces ahead of the SIHH in Geneva, these two launches are both significant for the brand in their own way.
The Patrimony moon phase with retrograde date was inspired by a previous model in the collection with a retrograde day indication by hand. In the new version an astronomical moon phase has been added that is accurate to 122 years. Furthermore, all the functions and adjustments are controlled by a three-position crown. There are no hidden fiddly correctors, which makes the watch much easier to use. Yet this new model, at 42,500 Swiss francs, is actually cheaper than its predecessor because the movement itself, despite its high-level decoration in accordance with the requirements of the Geneva Seal, is actually slightly easier to assemble.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Traditionnelle Minute Repeater Tourbillon. On the face of it, this is an ultra-classical timepiece in respect of the finest traditions. But closer inspection reveals a few subtleties worthy of note. Firstly, the hour and minute hands are slightly offset from the centre of the watch (a cleverly designed hour circle gives the impression that they are at the centre, but this hour circle is itself offset from centre, too). The reason for this is purely aesthetic, since moving the central axis upwards means that the hour wheel no longer obscures some of the view of the tourbillon. Once you have overcome this almost imperceptible visual distraction, it is worth taking an eye glass to inspect the hand engine-turned dial, which has been executed with a design and a deft touch that creates a lightness not often found on engine-turned gold surfaces and appears to bring the dial closer to the sapphire crystal, highlighting its decoration and aiding legibility. This is also a watch that stands out for two sounds: the minute repeater one the one hand and, on the other, the sedate ticking of a movement beating at 18,000 vibrations per hour, which can clearly be heard. Available with a rose-gold or platinum case and with silvered or slate-grey dials, the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Minute Repeater Tourbillon costs a handsome 583,000 Swiss francs.
For many other brands, this would be the talking piece of the year. So if Vacheron Constantin is presenting this half-a-million-dollar watch as a mere amuse-bouche for SIHH 2017, I can only wonder what they have in store for us in January.
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An exploration of the history of Vacheron Constantin is a voyage of discovery, revealing the excellence of age-old watchmaking. Each timepiece is the result of the creative inspiration of the watchmaker or craftsman, dedicating their knowhow to the birth of outstanding watches. The Manufacture also works within a social and environmental code of ethics, and has had Responsible Jewellery Council certification since 2012.Find out more >
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