Watches

Vacheron Constantin Just Unveiled 11 Mind-Boggling Timepieces

They look like one-offs. Some of them are.
IMAGE VACHERON
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The world’s oldest continually active watchmaker (the Vacheron half of the company began trading in 1755), has been long-known for creativity in its high-end watch offerings. The company has created timepieces depicting the Chinese zodiac and the continents of the world, as well as the Saltarello, which offers an alternative “bathroom scale” hand that pans left-to-right across the numbers 0 to 60 before flicking back at the end of the hour. Recently, Vacheron Constantin has dazzled watch fair-goers with show-stopping skeletonized tourbillion versions of the classic Malte and Patrimony models, wildly horological tours de force constructed from platinum or rose gold.

Then in 2019, it came up with a complication so grand it forced people to rethink the way mechanical watches work. The Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar came with two power reserves. Four days while being worn, or 65 days on standby mode, meaning it could be stored away for two months without losing functionality. If you’re the sort of man who refers to mechanical objects as living things—and if you are, you would be amongst friendsthen it effectively had two heartbeats: one active, one resting.

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To achieve this, it required two oscillators working to two different frequencies and some 480 different components. Such high complexity was matched by high design: it had a two-part, hand-guilloche, transparent dial, 18k gold markers, a platinum case, and a £195,000 price tag. It might nor have been a watch for everyday use but it was one you could at least rely on when you had to.

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Now it has followed up that wonder with its new watches for 2020.

First up is a new Overseas Skeleton Perpetual Calendar with an 18k pink gold case and an open-worked perpetual calendar movement. All the visible components of the calibre have been hollowed out, finished and decorated, the better to show off the handsome functionality of the mechanism. The eye-watering slim movement (a smidge over 4mm) contains 276 components, requiring feats of design and miniaturization you’ll find with very few watchmakers. The result is a perpetual calendar that won’t require adjustment until 1 March 2100—an improvement of calendars elsewhere that require adjustments for months with 28, 29, and 30 days.

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Photo by VACHERON.

Its also available in a non-skeletonized version, with an 18k pink gold case and bracelet and a blue dial.

Overseas Skeleton Perpetual Calendar

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIIN.
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Overseas Perpetual Calendar Gold

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.

The Traditionnelle collection—home of the aforementioned Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar—is where the brand really gets to flex its horological chops. Or, in its words, ‘Traditionnelle timepieces showcase technical refinement conveyed through eminently horological characteristics… from the simplest to the most complicated, these models pay tribute to craftsmanship and know-how passed on from generation to generation’. New in that collection is the Traditionnelle Tourbillion Chronograph. While the majority of tourbillons appear in the lower part of the dial, this watch places it at 12 o’clock. The chronograph function (at 3 o’clock) is activated by a monopusher inserted into the crown, a callback to original stopwatches where stop, start, and reset where all done with one button. The case is 18k pink gold and measures 42.5mm.

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Traditionnelle Tourbillion Chronograph

Photo by EASTIMAGES.

Vacheron is also releasing new watches in its Fiftysix range, a collection of classic-looking watches that were more obviously designed to be worn every day, intended to target a younger demographic for whom ‘traditional’ was more of a minus than a plus. This line now adopts a new sepia brown-toned dial color, available on the Fiftysix complete calendar and self-winding models. Both are 40mm in diameter, come with an 18k gold case and a brown calfskin strap.

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Fiftysix Sepia Brown

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.

Fiftysix Sepia Brown with calendar

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.
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Finally, there are three new models in its Les Cabinotiers ‘La Musique du Temps’ collection, one-of-a-kind chiming minute repeaters the like of which Vacheron has been making since 1806. (Les Cabinotiers is a special workshop at Vacheron Constantin where made-to-measure, highly complicated watches can be commissioned.) All watches in this collection have an original sound print, a one-off certificate awarded by Abbey Road, where the chimes were recorded.

Photo by VACHERON.
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The Astronomical Striking Grand Complication ‘Ode To Music’ is a double-sided minute repeater displaying three times and a perpetual calendar. The Grand Complication Split-Seconds Chronograph ‘Tempo’ is another double-sided watch, this one with 24 complications – chronograph hours and measurements on the front, along with a perpetual calendar and astronomical functions, including indications of solar time, sunrise and sunset and age and phase of the moon on the back.

Finally, The Singing Birds are four one-of-a-kind watches with enameled dials depicting a different songbird, the work of Vacheron's master enameler. The chimes, naturally, are meant to evoke the imaginary song of the birds.

Grand Complication Split-Seconds Chronograph ‘Tempo’

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.
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Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Split-seconds chronograph – Tempo (back)

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.

Les Cabinotiers - La Musique du Temps - Singing Birds - Blue Jay

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.
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Les Cabinotiers - La Musique du Temps - Singing Birds - Blue Tit

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.

Les Cabinotiers - La Musique du Temps - Singing Birds - Blue Jay

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.
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Les Cabinotiers - La Musique du Temps - Singing Birds - Robin

Photo by VACHERON CONSTANTIN.

It's all fairly head-turning stuff. On this evidence, Vacheron Constantin’s 265-year run of creativity in the field of high-end watchmaking is just hitting its stride.

The Fiftysix Sepia Dial Complete Calendar, £32,700, and Fiftysix Sepia Dial Self Winding, £18,100 will be launched in May. The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-thin Skeleton, £POA, and Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, £85,500; will be launched in September. The Traditionnelle Tourbillon Chronograph, £POA; will be launched in October. vacheron-constantin.com

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This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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