Watches and Wonders 2023: Vacheron Constantin
With a grand complication and numerous calendar models in each collection, Vacheron Constantin is setting the stage for an exciting year ahead.
Last year, Vacheron Constantin presented a hot favourite among collectors and watch history lovers: the revival of the Ref. 222 in a highly limited offering. Naturally, everyone is hoping that a white gold or even steel version of this time-only model may one day re-emerge. However, the brand has placed its attention on other collections at the moment, starting with a grand complication from the Les Cabinotiers range.
Les Cabinotiers Dual Moon Grand Complication
The Les Cabonotiers is one of Vacheron Constantin’s most exclusive offerings, with a bespoke service as well as unique creations that it produces annually. These range from artistic watches to highly complicated timepieces. The Dual Moon Grand Complication clearly falls into the latter.
Moonphase complications have been enjoying a resurgence of late. Over a decade ago, Piaget presented the Emperador Coussin Large Moon with a massive and realistic beaten gold moon disc that was a delight to view. The Dual Moon Grand Complication takes the moonphase to even greater heights. Positioned right in the middle of the dial, rather than to the bottom as is typical, a double moon display shows the Moon as seen from both hemispheres on a deep blue disc scattered with white gold dust, representing a starry night sky. The moons are highly realistic, achieved via diamond cutting on a micron level that creates depth on the uneven craters of the moons. The moonphases are accurate to 122 years and 16 days, when they need to be adjusted manually.
Tied to the moonphase display is the watch’s perpetual calendar function, with a retrograde date at the top arc of the dial and two partial apertures for the day and month. A small leap year aperture sits next to the crown. The white gold case pairs well with the brushed silver dial and white calendar indicators, contrasting strongly against the moonphases. On the left is a slider for the minute repeater hidden in the watch, chiming out the time on demand.
The back of the watch reveals yet another complication: a sky chart of the Northern Hemisphere that follows sidereal time. That’s the time it takes for the Earth to complete a full rotation based on a fixed point in the night sky. The stunning sky chart is mounted on a sapphire crystal and slowly moves according to the months, at times covering the tourbillon that can be viewed from the back.
This is a unique piece with 11 complications, driven by the Calibre 2755 TMRCCQP, one of Vacheron Constantin’s most complex movements. It is Geneva Seal certified and has a power reserve of 58 hours.
More Retrograde Dates
Mercury isn’t in retrograde, but Vacheron Constantin’s calendar watches sure are. The Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface is a brand new release that recalls two important milestones of the brand – the Twin Beat and the Ref. 47247 from 2002. The latter was a calendar model with day and retrograde date indicators mounted on a skeletonised dial.
The new Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface updates this look with a very contemporary, almost untraditional design. An arced open-cut dial that’s grooved sits at the top half of the display with a retrograde date indicator. This is mounted on top of the movement’s plate, which is decorated with a similarly grooved design. Hour markers in rose gold float over the watch, applied via the minute track that encircles the dial. On the lower half of the watch is the Maltese cross tourbillon, an icon of the watchmaker.
The watch is powered by the Calibre 2162 R31, which is self-winding thanks to a peripheral oscillating rotor. This ensures the watch offers an uninterrupted view of the tourbillon and movement details on both sides of the timepiece and keeps it running accurately and smoothly at all times. The watch has a power reserve of three days.
Another retrograde date model now appears in the Overseas collection, a first for the brand. The sports chic model gets a dose of classic watch design, but in a dynamic style, so it doesn’t feel dated in any way. In fact, we want to see more retrograde displays in the Overseas similar to this. The Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date features a retrograde display for the date on the upper half of the dial with a moonphase window at 6 o’clock.
Vacheron Constantin has designed both in a way that the two calendar displays seem to radiate out from the base of the dial in a fan-like manner, giving the watch an elegant twist. The vivid blue of the dial is applied in different ways, from the date indicators to the moonphase display, creating this uniform look that plays on shadows, textures, and depths. The watch is a self-winding model, powered by a version of the Calibre 2460 R31L/2 with a full oscillating weight, and offers 40 hours of power. Like all Overseas models, it has an easy switch for strap-swapping and goes with a bracelet or rubber option, among others.
A fourth retrograde day and date watch comes in the Patrimony collection with a new salmon dial. This is a new variation of the existing model, housed in a platinum case with a pink gold Maltese cross emblem. Instead of standard black print, the house has opted for blue print instead for the calendar displays, with matching blued hands for the date and day displays.
All in all, this is a year that’s filled with fresh designs from Vacheron Constantin, with more to come in the months ahead. Stay tuned.
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