Watches & Wonders returns in 2021 and during the COVID-19 pandemic it has become the largest virtual watch-event of the year. While many brands have gravitated towards this event for 2021; Vacheron Constantin used this platform in 2020 to launch their new novelties and they return once again this year for their new releases.
HISTORIQUES AMERICAN 1921 – 100 YEAR CELEBRATIONS
The Historiques American 1921 is essentially a modern interpretation of the “drivers watches” destined for the American market around 1919-1921. The rotated dial allows a driver to easily read the time while their hands are at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel. The modern interpretation of this model was released in 2008 and was the first to feature the gorgeous 4400 manual-wind series calibre, now installed in many other watches in the Vacheron Constantin line-up.
There might be a lot of excitement about the Overseas line-up of watches (even now having huge waiting lists) but the American 1921 is the most obvious Vacheron Constantin at 10ft away. It also happens to be my favourite VC watch of any line. It combines a simple design that speaks volumes; as well as an unusual cushion shape case, and finally packed with a wonderfully finished movement that’s super slim. It represents everything iconic about the brand and it’s place in the Holy Trinity.
Now what’s most exciting, is that for the 100th year anniversary Vacheron saw fit to combine my favourite watch with my favourite aesthetic, found in the Excellence Platine range. I featured a previous Excellence Platine variant here and I thought that the colour combination of silver dial with blue was so nice, that I went ahead and purchased a blue strap with silver stitching for my Overseas 4500V. You can read about this here.
The new watch is the standard 40mm size, but features both a platinum 950 case, as well as a platinum 950 dial (with grenage finish) and platinum pin buckle. One other key difference is that on this special edition, both the hands and applied numerals on the dial are in white gold. The supplied leather strap features a mixture of both silk and platinum thread in the stitching.
The Excellence Platine 100 year anniversary edition will be boutique-only, and priced at £43,000.
HISTORIQUES AMERICAN 1921 – STANDARD MODELS
This year also sees the introduction of white gold models for the line – in both the 36.5mm and 40mm sizes. Both watches feature the standard 4400 series calibre but the press photos do appear to show a subtle dial colour difference – which i’d love to get hands on with. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’d trade my Overseas for the 36.5mm version and now that it’s available in a metal colour that suits me, this might just happen!
Neither model is limited production.
The watches are also supplied with different straps. Those with a keen eye will spot the same strap supplied with the Historiques Cornes de Vache in steel.
The 40mm version is priced at £31,200 and the 36.5mm version is priced at £25,800.
TRADITIONELLE SPLIT SECONDS CHRONOGRAPH – EXCELLENCE PLATINE
Here’s another one with the Excellence Platine range, but probably the most unexpected and blow-away release from Vacheron this year. The usual Excellence Platine rules apply, but this time the watch is the first to feature the split seconds chronograph complication within a 42.5mm case. We’ve actually seen a monopusher movement very similar before, used in the Harmony range of watches, but this movement has been significantly upgraded since the last implementation and features an extra button for split seconds operation. It’s also an automatic winding movement featuring a peripheral rotor (an excellent compromise where the movement is automatically wound, without obscuring the finishing of the movement for the viewer).
The watch is limited to 15 pieces (boutique only) and is priced at £272,000.
The Overseas steel line is becoming a hard-to-get commodity and this year Vacheron Constantin has elected to continue the expansion of the Overseas line at the high-end. After last year’s GPHG win for the Skeletonized, Ultra-Thin Overseas Perpetual Calendar, the brand has this year released the same watch in white gold, priced at £122,000. We were quoted around 3 months for just the skeletonization process, so expect production to be very limited. This watch is boutique-only.
Following up from this release are two other familiar watches with general availability. The first being the tourbillon model, now available in full pink gold (with pink gold bracelet), priced at £143,000. The second is the non-skeletonized Ultra Thin Perpetual Calendar model in white gold. This model is priced at £91,500.
The Egerie range also now features two more models, showcasing the amazing use of diamonds and gem setting of the maison. Both Egerie watches feature the standard case size and movement as the other watches in the range, but now feature around 900 diamonds with a total weight of around 4 Karat.
Both models have general availability and are priced at £54,000 in white or pink gold.
METIERS D’ART – TRIBUTE TO EXPLORERS
This year’s Metiers D’Art collection features three new watches dedicated to historical exploration. Each features hand enamelled dials in pink gold cases, with wandering hours complications at 3 o’ clock. Each piece is limited to 10 pieces (with most allocated already) and are boutique exclusive – priced at £115,000 each.
LES CABINOTIERS 2021
Saving the best to last (even though both watches are already allocated, and have no price advertised!) are the wonders of the Les Cabinotiers department for this year. As a reminder, this department is small team working on very specific customer watches of high value.
The first watch features and highlights the spherical tourbillon (as used in the 57260) and even has a sapphire “window” on the side of the watch for absolute viewing pleasure. The second watch based on a cellestial theme, highlights guilochet work (along with a dial set with diamonds to represent the stars). Both watches are absolute treasures and I look forward to seeing video and photos in the coming weeks.
All Photography courtesy of Vacheron Contantin.