As they say, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Vacheron Constantin’s latest combination of a tourbillon with a retrograde date display does just that and stages its refined mechanics in a contemporary, multi-level openworked dial. As a historic manufacture that listens to current trends, Vacheron Constantin welcomes another model into its traditional Traditionelle collection with an ultra-contemporary yet refined 21st-century aesthetic.
Openworked or skeletonised watches are in vogue, no doubt about that, and we tend to think they are novel ways of exposing mechanical movements. However, if you’re a company like Vacheron Constantin with a 268-year history, chances are you might even have a couple of openworked models in your archives. It turns out that VC did, in fact, have an openworked model in its archives in the form of a pocket watch with an astronomical calendar from 1918 (ref. 10937). Following a hiatus of almost 100 years, VC revisited the openworked dial concept with ref. 47247 in 2002, followed by models like the Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar in 2019 and the Traditionnelle Openface Complete Calendar of 2021.
The stepped case with its fluted caseback and slim bezel is hallmark Traditionelle style and is crafted in polished 18k pink gold with a 41mm diameter and a height of 11.07mm. However, the dial reveals an engaging blend of old and new with classical gold Dauphine hands, a railway minute track and gold baton hour markers combined with a contemporary staging of the functions on four different planes.
The upper half of the dial features an opaline flange with the railway minute track followed by an arched grey hand-guilloché chapter ring hosting the applied gold hour indices and the retrograde date track. A retrograde date display does not complete a full turn of the dial; it travels along an arc and then springs back to 1 to start counting down a new month. Here the hand of the retrograde date is made of 18k blackened gold and highlighted with a white arrow-shaped tip.
Beneath the retrograde date is an openworked area protected by a sapphire crystal revealing parts of the retrograde mechanism; the plate is highlighted with a contemporary slate grey surface treatment and decorated with vertical hand-brushing.
This is followed by another recessed guilloché-engraved plate and the large aperture for the spectacular tourbillon framed by a seconds track. Surmounted by a hollowed-out Maltese Cross, the tourbillon creates a well that traverses the dial and caseback. The finishings of the tourbillon cage are exquisite, with hand-bevelled and hand-polished surfaces.
The view from the reverse reveals other components of the 2162 R31 calibre, an automatic movement developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin. Protected by slate grey bridges treated with a NAC surface treatment, calibre 2161 R31 is just 6.25mm thick and is powered by a gold peripheral rotor. Beating at a frequency of 18,000vph, the movement delivers a 72-hour power reserve and is certified as a Poinçon de Genève timepiece.
The Traditionelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface comes on a handstitched grey alligator leather strap with a pink gold folding clasp shaped like a half Maltese cross. The watch will only be available in Vacheron Constantin boutiques, and the price is to be confirmed. For more information, please visit Vacheron-constantin.com.