Vacheron Constantin has over 260 years of history in which it can seek inspiration for new models in its Historique collection, which is specifically designed to bring back to life historically significant models. Two of the three new models in this collection are inspired by models from the 1940s that are sought after among collectors and use updated versions of the historical calendar calibres 485 and 495, presented her as calibre 4400 QC and 4400 QCL.
According to Christian Selmoni, Director of Style & Heritage at Vacheron Constantin, the most distinctive characteristic of these models is the caseband with triple gadroons, which is typical of the “streamline” design philosophy that was prevalent in the United States from the 1920s to the 1960s. Together with the claw-shaped lugs, this offers a “twist” that Selmoni finds in many of the brand’s vintage timepieces.
There are two versions of the Triple Calendar 1948, both with a case in 4N red gold. It’s quite unusual to find a case using this colour of gold, which lies between “yellow” and “red” on the official ISO 8654 scale, but it has specifically been used to give the watches an authentic vintage touch. The same is true of the satin-finished dial, which coated with a slight beige tinge in the galvanising bath to accentuate the vintage look. The ultimate touch of vintage comes in the form of an unusual bordeaux colour for the background of the moon phase display, which mimics the “tropical” oxidised effect seen on many vintage dials. The moon itself is in gold with a galvanic surface treatment to provide texture.
The Triple Calendar 1948 is powered by the Vacheron Constantin 4400 QCL calibre, which is a manually wound movement that offers 65 hours of power reserve. The QCL abbreviation refers to “quantième complet”, or complete calendar, meaning that the watch displays the day of the week and the month in windows and the date by hand, and the “L” suffix (for “Lune” in French) means that this model has a precision moonphase display. Only 200 of each of the two references will be produced, priced at 36,500 Swiss francs.
Triple Calendar 1948 © Vacheron Constantin
The Triple Calendar 1942 models come in non-limited stainless-steel versions on which both the gadroons on the caseband and the lugs are more pronounced. There is no moonphase display on these models, which is replaced by a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Given that the calibre 4400 QC used inside them is also finished to the exacting standards of the Geneva Hallmark, the price of 17,000 Swiss francs is relatively reasonable when compared with the competition. Furthermore, if you weren’t familiar with the history, you could be forgiven for mistaking these versions with the Arabic numerals for a contemporary design.
Triple Calendar 1942 © Vacheron Constantin
Last in the trio of new models is the American 1921, which is inspired by a historical model that was originally commissioned for an American customer. Its dial is aligned at the perfect angle for reading with the hands on a steering wheel of a car. To achieve this offset display of the time, the dial is rotated clockwise by 45 degrees. Counter-intuitively, the movement is rotated 45 degrees in the opposite direction, which explains why the crown moves to between 1 and 2 o’clock and the small seconds subdial to between 4 and 5 o’clock (with reference to the case, not the dial). This model was first re-issued in 2009 with a 40mm case diameter but is now proposed in a 36.5mm unisex size in 5N red gold. Its characteristic design includes the cushion-shaped case, curved caseband, screw-on straight lugs and the ball-shaped crown. It is powered by the manually-wound calibre 4400 AS, which helps to keep a thin profile for the watch. For a touch of audacity, this model, which retails for 30,400 Swiss francs, comes with a shiny red alligator leather strap in addition to the more traditional brown alligator leather strap.
American 1921 © Vacheron Constantin
Nineties movie references aside, flip the 40mm case over, and we are greeted with a welcome sight, and one we could all probably agree upon: Vacheron’s finely decorated 22k Cable twisting the Calibre 2460. This in-house fabricated automatic movement comes correct with Vacheron’s exemplary beveling, circular graining, and polishing — all of antiques that rightfully assist with making the watch that a Geneva Seal for excellence in both finishing and timekeeping.All items considered, the Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières Beijing watch probably leaves more questions than answers. Certainly the new Chinese laws is partly to blame for flagging sales, but it could also be argued that the overseas appetites that after sustained the Korean watch market have also grown to the point of recognizing that further excess — no matter how artistic it may be — is a poor choice for trying to revive a relationship characterized by the very thing that got it into trouble in the first place.The Vacheron Constantin Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières collection will soon be accessible exclusively from Vacheron Constantin boutiques, where each watch will be delivered using a loupe, presumably therefore its brand new owner may endeavor to obtain the small bits of diamond dust representing their luxury condominium glittering somewhere in the dial’s relief. Those who take no problem with the pretense under which this opinion has been created can add it to their collection for a cost of $93,300.