Well folks, we are fully underway in the online version of Watches & Wonders 2020, and it’s truly beginning to feel like that time of the year again, because one of the Holy Trinity watchmakers – Vacheron Constantin – has announced their new releases.
These novelties significantly enrich many different lines in the Vacheron Constantin collection, helping the brand re-affirm itself as one of the most important, respected and boldest watchmakers.
The Overseas embodies the sporty side of Vacheron Constantin. After being reintroduced to the market in 2016, the collection saw rapid evolution over the past couple of years.
Following the release of the blue dialled Overseas Tourbillon from last year, the Swiss giant wrote another page in their illustrious history by designing an incredibly versatile and stunning watch.
This watch is none other than the highly anticipated skeletonised version of the Overseas Perpetual Calendar, the perfect timepiece that can be both flaunted and flaunt itself: this watch is features an unbelievably gorgeous visible movement which the wearer (and the admirer) can get lost in if they aren’t careful.
Encased in rose gold, this 41.5mm diameter case is incredibly thin, measuring just 8.1mm thick, making this Vacheron Constantin sit very comfortably on the wrist, helped in part by the interchangable bracelet, which allows for it to be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
On both sides, we can appreciate the mastery of Vacheron Constantin’s artisanship and technical superiorty. The combination of the highly technical and superbly finished caliber 1120 QPSQ/1 and subtly built-in perpetual calendar sub-dials, is a true work of art, and is both perfectly legible and complicated.
Other than the skeletonisation, Vacheron Constantin brought forward a new feature to the Overseas Perpetual Calendar “Blue”. A full gold bracelet, which previously was only made exclusively for the silver-toned dial versions of the watch, is now available.
Two years ago, Vacheron Constantin launched the new Fifty Six collection, taking lots of inspiration from the vintage reference 6073, with the aim of adding an entry level timepiece to their collection.
Now, in 2020, Vacheron Constantin has built upon this line, releasing two new versions of the Fifty Six model: both with sepia-brown dials.
The first is a rose gold time-only configuration, characterised by a timeless and elegant design, and a sleek brown tone, giving a classy vibe to the watch.
The second, more complicated iteration, features a complete (triple) calendar, with the same brown aura. Personally, I think that the Fifty Six Complete Calendar has one of the best looking, well put, balanced and elegant dials on the market. Often, triple calendars can appear a bit crammed inside the watch, sacrificing legibility for the sake of complication – but this is far from the case. And the hint of blue, peeking through the lunar phase window perfectly compliments the tobacco-coloured dial to give it a refreshing and refined “pop”.
The Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Collection was put into place with the intent of creating grand-complication timepieces with exceptional craftsmanship and savoir-faire, an “ode to classical watchmaking”, if you will.
With this mantra in mind, Vacheron Constantin presented the magnificent Tourbillon Monopusher Chronograph.
The iconic Maltese Cross-Shaped Tourbillon proudly sits at the 12 o’clock position, setting the stage for the very pecuiliar dial below. The brand’s Cross is stamped on the left hand side of the dial, opposed by the minute counter on the right, meanwhile the power reserve indicator sits at 6. A clear caseback shows off the excellently designed and assembled caliber 3200, made up of 292 individual pieces, all impeccably finished.
For being “Traditionelle”, the Tourbillon Chronograph is a rather hefty watch, measuring 42.5mm in diameter, made even more apparent by the large monopusher crown.
The Traditionelle Collection also brought something for the ladies: announcing the release of two female versions of the Traditionelle Tourbillon.
The first comes in a 39mm rose gold case, entirely covered in diamonds, including the bezel of the Tourbillon itself, positioned at 6 o’clock.
Mother of Pearl dial is a perfect choice to express the femininity of this timepiece, and underlines the expert watchmaking, both from a technical and aesthetic standpoint.
Instead, the second variation is a white gold diamond dream, boasting some 559 expertly cut pieces, which bejewel the entire watch, both case and face. This is a perfect example of when haute-jewellery meets fine watchmaking; probably envisioned to be admired, and not worn!
Whereas the Traditionelle line pays homage to the brand’s roots through fine complications with classical design cues, the Les Cabinotiers Collection is best described as “one eye on the past, and the other set on the innovative future”.
As we explained in our detailed article, Les Cabinotiers is like the Navy Seal Team Six when it comes to watchmaking. These are some of the most talented, hard-core and masterful watchmakers not only in Vacheron Constantin, but in the entire world. This highly specialised department dedicates its time to designing and creating incredibly complicated and stunning pieces that you would think that they belong in an art museum, and not on the wrist. The highest level of watchmaking one can achieve.
The “Tempo” model perfectly embodies these principles: in fact, this timepiece is packed with every single complication imaginable. However, this does come with a drawback – it measures 50mm in diameter and 21mm thick, dimensions which make it more appropriate for a mantelpiece than for a wrist…
One common trait linking these two together is the minute repeater, the “Queen of the Complications“, activated by the curved pusher on the left hand side of the case.
If the immense “Tempo” doesn’t satisfy you enough, Vacheron Constantin has also created a one-off piece entitled “Ode to Music”. And it is a truly spectacular watch, taking inspiration from the widely celebrated 57260, or better known as the most complicated watch in history.
The dial alone hosts a staggering 8 complications, which are: a Minute Repeater, Perpetual Calendar, Lunar Phases, Equation du Temps, Sunrise and Sunset indicator, Daylight and Night time hours, Solstice and Equinox indicator and a Zodiac sign function.
This is a unique combination of complications that so few other watchmakers can replicate, let alone better.
But that’s not all: flip the case over and the Ode to Music boasts another marvel. Aside from the expertly finished caliber 1731 M820, we can see a stunning starry sky, with constellations which rotate with acccurate sidereal motion (once every 23 hours and 56 minutes, look it up!).
Like the “Tempo”, this piece belongs in a museum, too. But unlike it, you can actually wear this one – reasonably comfortably: it “only” measures 45×12.5mm.
The Metiers d’Art timepieces hold a very special place in Les Cabinotiers’ portofolio, and it is precisely for this reason why Vacheron Constantin decided to implement their masterful use of enamel dials once again.
As you may recall, last year, the Genevese watchmaker presented 4 timepieces featuring Minute Repeaters and Tourbillions, in which each piece’s dials represented a different season. This year, Vacheron Constantin has released another quartet, this time with the theme of “singing birds”. Let’s take a closer look.
On these watches, the dials are the headline acts: they’re obtained through a technique called Champlevé Enamelling, and each iterations’ colour-schemes are different. This very rare technique is reserved for only a select few of incredibly talented artisans, and yields gorgeous shades and colour blends which perfectly capture the vibrancy of these birds.
If you finally manage to take your eyes off of the artistic dial, you can even read the time, too! Although on the surface it may appear fairly simple and straightforward, the “wandering hours” mechanism is far from that. This complication, affluent even during the 1700s, displays the time in an elegant and very smooth manner, through the cunning use of three rings which rotate on a periferal disc, allowing for only the intended sections to be displayed (i.e. in the photos below, only the 12 is displayed, and not the 1 through 11), and the hour track seamlessly progresses along the minute track, thereby displaying the current time.
Although I’m a vintage lover, I cannot overlook this beautiful and wonderfully clever plethora of new releases… there really is something for everybody: from the more classic tastes, to the sporty ones, all the way to those who go against the grain and push the boundaries of modern watchmaking and art.
I think that last one is what best defines Vacheron Constantin as a watchmaker – they are one of the very few brands which constantly look for ways to expand their horizions whilst maintaining the utmost respect for their traditional roots.
– Translated by Patrick R.