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Vacheron Constantin - Historiques American 1921

Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

1921-2021, 100 years of boldness and a playful twist. Three watches celebrate a signature design

In 1921, Vacheron Constantin seized the powerful momentum of the Roaring Twenties to create a watch with an avant-garde design produced primarily for the American market. In 2021, the Maison is celebrating the anniversary of this icon, particularly appreciated by collectors and connoisseurs of Haute Horlogerie, with three new interpretations of the American 1921 model. A contemporary take on a legendary watch, honouring the visionary boldness of the Manufacture. These novelties presented at Watches & Wonders 2021, as well as the historical models epitomize the Maison’s ‘classic with a twist’ theme for 2021. They embody Vacheron Constantin’s creative energy, guided by an identity that celebrates heritage and dares to deliver the unexpected.

Historiques American 1921

Historiques American 1921 © Vacheron Constantin

It is distinguished by its elegant and classic yet quirkily original appearance. More than just a watch, it is a symbol, an emblematic expression of Vacheron Constantin's creativity. Introduced exactly a century ago, the American 1921 model is one of the most outstanding landmarks in the heritage of the Manufacture, which celebrates its avant-garde spirit through three new variations dedicated to vintage watch collectors and connoisseurs. A cushion-type case, the diagonal display, the crown positioned between 1 and 2 o’clock are all visual twists testifying to an aesthetic that appeals as much by its offset design as its timeless nature. Three new versions of the American 1921 are presented to mark the 100th anniversary: two models in 18K white gold and a 100-piece limited edition from the Collection Excellence Platine, powered by the in-house manual-winding movement, Calibre 4400 AS. With its generous 28.50 mm diameter magnified by the transparency of the sapphire caseback, this calibre is offset from its usual axis, while its imposing barrel ensures an approximately 65-hour (three-day) power reserve.

A Roaring Twenties icon

The origin of the watch can be even traced back to 1919. At the time, the Maison experimented with numerous case shapes, always in small series. The wristwatch became then a genre in its own, which found its style notably in the shapes it adopted, especially the cushion one. Few pieces were manufactured in 1919. Two years later, Vacheron Constantin produced another small series for the USA, hence named American 1921, which defined the re-design of the current Historiques model.

Historiques American 1921

Historiques American 1921 © Vacheron Constantin

Behind the unusual design of the 1920s creation lies the quintessence of the Roaring Twenties, which for nearly a decade brought a wind of renewal to the United States and Europe. Synonymous with artistic and cultural effervescence, the period was a time for boldness and overturning conventions. Economic growth was in full swing; a scantily clad Josephine Baker danced wearing a barely-there banana skirt; clubs and dance halls throbbed to the sound of Charleston dance music and jazz; the surrealists took centre stage on the art scene... In Vacheron Constantin's workshops, the powerful inventive surge of these years also gave rise to new perspectives. At a time when pocket watches were beginning to give way to wristwatches, the miniaturisation of watch movements paved the way for a burst of creativity. All kinds of fanciful touches were permissible on the wrist, as witnessed by the vintage 1921 model, a clever blend of sobriety and irreverence in a classic with a twist.

A sought-after watch

The American 1921 model stands out first and foremost in terms of design, with an elegantly understated cushion shaped case defining its look. It is also distinguished by a stage-setting approach to the path of time. Unexpectedly offset by means of a 45-degree counter-clockwise rotation, the calibre enables a diagonal reading of time, while the crown is placed between 1 and 2 o’clock in the upper right-hand corner of the case. The result is a watch that is as strikingly original as it is appealing.

Historiques American 1921

Historiques American 1921 © Vacheron Constantin

The initial versions produced were notably appreciated by driving enthusiasts who could thus read the time at a glance without having to take their hands from the steering wheel. The perfect gentleman driver's watch, it was also adopted by elegant and avant-garde circles. A look through the archives reveals that two such watches belonged to American writer and clergyman Samuel Parkes-Cadman. Renowned for his fight for racial equality and the struggle against anti-Semitism, the man was a pioneer at heart. He is notably known to have been one of the first to use radio to broadcast his sermons to several million listeners; and is thought to have opted for this watch because it allowed him to read the time easily and discreetly while preaching. One of the two timepieces he owned is now part of Vacheron Constantin's heritage collection. This extremely rare model served as direct inspiration for the three new timepieces presented in 2021.

Classic with a Twist

Vacheron Constantin’s creativity has always remained closely attuned to its time while evoking its memories. This byword for elegance, adopted by each watchmaker, artisan and designer throughout the years and centuries, celebrates heritage and dares to explore the unexpected. Poised at the intersection between technical virtuosity and aesthetic refinement, the enduring allure of Vacheron Constantin timepieces makes its way unscathed through passing eras. Because timelessness cannot be achieved merely by complying with the canons of traditional watchmaking, each creation is tinged with a touch of boldness revealed in the smallest details. Special displays, offset indications, specific chamfering of all components, hand-crafted finishing and the complexity of a mechanism are just a few examples of this expertise. The result is a very personal field of expression where technique and style converge in a subtle harmony between the conventional and the atypical.


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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.

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