Welcome to the mini-roundup of the Vacheron Constantin releases for Watches & Wonders 2022. But first…
I couldn’t quite believe that my last post was the coverage of Watches & Wonders 2021. My family welcomed the birth of our Daughter in March 2021 and since then our family unit has been pretty busy (and deprived of sleep!). I was also blessed to be so busy with work during the pandemic (while others who were unfortunate enough to lose their jobs) which has led to this extended hiatus from content.
I just wanted to pass on a heartfelt thank you to everyone who reached out privately to check we were OK!
VACHERON CONSTANTIN TRADITIONNELLE PERPETUAL CALENDAR 4305T (LADIES)
I’m starting out with my favourite release of the year, and given that the 222 came out (more on that later) you might be wondering why I picked a ladies’ Perpetual Calendar model as my favourite!
This year I didn’t sign an NDA and get early access to the releases; however I did participate in a “watch enthusiasts” post-release presentation by Vacheron Constantin Europe. Many thanks to my buddy Rune Daalgard for the invitation to come along! During this session we got to give feedback on the releases and the session was pretty much unanimous that this watch was a great size for a unisex / male release and not just for females. That magical combination of sensible 36.5mm size; along with a movement that sits snuggly within it. The 1120QP movement is still an ultra-thin star – but my favourite thing about this piece is the first time we see “just” the Perpetual Calendar complication within the Traditionnelle case range – something only usually seen in the Patrimony case, which I’m not particularly a fan of personally (too dressy, and too large). Some gentlemen will choose to wear this piece despite the diamonds, but here’s hoping we see a non-jewellery version of this watch with say…ahem…a Salmon dial?
What I’m most impressed by is the legibility of the dial. I thought I’d post a picture, side by side, of the 4305T vs the Overseas Perpetual Calendar, and marvel at how clean it looks, despite being a much smaller watch.
Finally, I did push some feedback to the VC team that the rather nifty strap change system, which is limited to only the ladies models, should be seen in other ranges. I’m sure they won’t be cheap, but it gives you the option for worry-free, and tool-less, strap changes.
TRADITIONNELLE PERPETUAL CALENDAR CHRONOGRAPH 5000T PLATINUM
It was a close call between the 4305T and this 5000T watch for my favourite this year. Salmon dials are nothing new, but I’m still a big fan and it’s easy to see they are so popular with the watch community at large – Baltic always sells out their Limited Edition watches in a very short space of time, with exceptional salmon dials front and centre.
What probably pushed this aside into second place was just the sheer size of the watch. I have personally tried on the Twin-Beat Traditonelle (nicknamed the “Big boy” by the boutique!) and was surprised at how well it wore, despite the large case size. I’ve learnt to reserve judgement on larger cased watches until I try them on; but that didn’t stop the rest of the presentation session attendees labouring the point that this watch was simply massive and could do with coming down in size. The watch case does indeed make the movement look very small – a stop-gap solution would be to shrink the case size, but maybe some day soon we’ll see a newer Chronograph movement from VC to replace this classic movement?
HISTORIQUES 222 4200H IN YELLOW GOLD
We got the sneak peek back in February that we were likely to see a 222 release this year at W&W, but what nobody knew was the metal choices that were going to be available.
In full yellow Gold this watch is truly exceptional – Vacheron having reworked the bracelet so that it doesn’t pinch hair, as well as the rest of the timepiece being brought up to modern standards while maintaining all of the best bits, such as the 37mm case construction. Purists probably would have hoped for a steel option, but Vacheron Constantin wanted to present the timepiece in it’s best possible variation for the release.
It’s fair to say that this watch made the top lists of many of the press, and indeed it looks like the watch already has a multi-year waitlist despite what must be a very expensive piece (with the watch starting to land at boutiques in around September 2022).
One interesting debate was the choice of movement. One might question why we might see the 1120 ultra-thin movement used in many of the current line-up of Vacheron Constantin timepieces and wonder why it wasn’t used in the refreshed 222 lineup. We are informed that the choice to use the much more modern 2455/2 movement (3.6mm thick, 194 parts, 27 jewels, 40 hour power reserve) was based round the fact that the date layout is a little better for the dial, and of course it’s a quick set date, unlike the original. Massive kudos for putting the client experience first, rather than doting completely on the past. There is a small compromise on thickness, for all those benefits.
And that is why I have such massive respect for the Historiques lines of watches. It creates a playground for reminiscing about the past but allows for modernisation as well, like we have seen with the amalgamation of two different historical models ending up with the Historiques 1921 that we know and love today. The 222 is a perfect mixture of historical style and modern watchmaking. The client gets that vintage feel, without the dangers of vintage movement servicing and wafer thin, cheap feeling bracelets.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN OVERSEAS TOURBILLON SKELETON 6000V
While skeletonisation isn’t something I’d usually pick, I do have to give a special shout out for a very special watch. When I was first introduced to the skeletonised tourbillon version of the Overseas it came across as a “new” movement, but we have of course seen the 2160 movement in many watches in the past, from the Traditionnelle line to the current Overseas line up. It is in fact just a skeletonised version with an “SQ” naming convention.
Taking a look though, the amount of sharp inward angles along the skeletonised bridges is simply amazing. It’s a true connoisseur’s timepiece, if you really value high end finishing.
There are of course two other “firsts” here – the image above being of the first full Titanium watch (including the supplied bracelet) made by Vacheron. The second “first” appears to be the standard supply of calf leather straps with the watch, rather than alligator.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN LES ROYAUMES AQUATIQUES TURTLE 2400C
I’m always blown away by the MÉTIERS D’ART collection releases every year, and this year is no exception. The Turtle is a one-off execution from Les Cabinotiers that features Grisaille enamel painting of a turtle and the process to build up this lovely image is simply outstanding. I have no doubt that this watch, like all MÉTIERS D’ART watches, would outwear me. But potentially for one lucky owner, they should be very proud to wear a unique piece of art that represents very rare skills to create something so special.