Vacheron Constantin’s famous cushion-shaped watch with an intriguing twist celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. The twist that has made the Historiques American 1921 such a legendary watch is its diagonal time display and crown perched on the upper right corner of the case. To commemorate its centennial, Vacheron unveils two white gold models, in 40mm and 36.5mm cases, and a special limited 40mm platinum edition that will form part of the Collection Excellence Platine. All three models are powered by Vacheron’s in-house manual-winding calibre 4400 AS. Let’s have a closer look.
A century later and still going strong, Vacheron Constantin’s American 1921 was produced primarily for the American market between 1919 and 1921 in very limited numbers. Coinciding with the Roaring Twenties, the American 1921 captured the design mood of the decade and the newfound optimism following the end of WW1. Widespread prosperity animated a consumer culture ready to enjoy the latest consumer goods. This included the advent of affordable cars, like the Ford Model T. The curious diagonal display was particularly useful for drivers who could consult the time without having to lift their hand off the steering wheel.
The 1920s marked a turning point for wristwatches that were gradually replacing pocket watches. Having proved its worth on the battlefield, the wristwatch was finally unshackled from its reputation as a feminine trinket and became increasingly popular with men. It was also a period of new design ideas heralded by the Art Deco movement, which in watchmaking led to experimentation with different case shapes. Vacheron Constantin’s American 1921 was a true child of the age with a cushion-shaped case and an unusual diagonal position of the movement, meaning that the crown was perched on the case between 1 and 2 o’clock, and the indications read at a 45° angle.
The Historiques American 1921 belongs to Vacheron Constantin’s Historiques collection sharing the limelight with other golden oldies like the Cornes de Vache 1955, the Triple Calendrier 1942 and the Ultra-Fine 1955. Compared to one of the original models that have inspired the new 1921 American models, it is clear that the overall retro mood is respected. However, there are notable differences and, obviously, a mechanical upgrade.
In-house hand-wound Calibre 4400 AS
All three models are powered by Vacheron’s in-house manual-winding calibre 4400 AS. A sapphire crystal caseback reveals Vacheron’s manual-winding calibre 4400 AS. Developed in 2008, the movement is offset from its usual axis by 45 degrees. With its generous 28.5mm diameter, the calibre is just 2.8mm thick, and its barrel can store up to 65 hours of power reserve. Bearing the Poinçon de Genève hallmark, the movement is beautifully hand-finished with Côtes de Genève, perlage, bevelled edges and brightly polished screw heads.
Historiques American 1921 White Gold 40mm and 36.5mm
The 18k white gold models, offered in a 40mm case with a slim height of 8.06mm and in a unisex 36.5mm case with a height of 7.41mm, replicate the elegant cushion-shaped case of the 1921 American. They also feature the distinctive lugs that emulate the soldered lugs of pocket watches as they transitioned to a wristwatch format. Like the original, the dial displays a silver tone and has a finely grained texture with sloping black painted Arabic numerals and a black painted railroad minutes track. The snailed small seconds counter at 3 o’clock is a clear departure from the original position at 6 o’clock on the original 1921 American. Slender 18k gold Breguet hands and a baton hand on the seconds counter, all blackened, mark the passing hours, minutes and seconds. Vacheron’s emblematic Maltese cross is crafted in white gold and applied to the dial at noon.
The 40mm model comes with a brown calfskin leather strap crafted by Serapian, the Italian leather goods company based in Milan. The 36.5mm comes with dark brown and a burgundy calfskin leather strap, also made by Serapian.
Quick facts: 40mm x 8.06mm (ref. 82035/000G-B735) and 36.5mm x 7.41mm (ref. 1100S/000G-B734) – 18k white gold, polished – 30m water-resistance – grained silver-tone dial – snailed small seconds – black painted Arabic numerals and minutes track – 18k gold blackened hours, minutes and seconds hands – in-house manual-winding calibre 4400 AS– 28,800vph/4Hz – 21 jewels – 65h power reserve – Hallmark of Geneva certified – ref. 82035/000G-B735 EUR 36,100 – ref. 1100S/000G-B734 EUR 29,800
Historiques American 1921 Collection Excellence Platine
The most luxurious model is the 950 platinum model made. Measuring 40mm x 8.06mm, the platinum case is polished throughout. Limited to 100 individually numbered pieces, the American 1921 Collection Excellence Platine also features a 950 platinum dial with a sandblasted finish. The Arabic numerals are crafted from 18k white gold and applied to the dial, and surrounded by a black railway minutes track. The small seconds counter is slightly recessed and features a black railway track for the seconds and a blued steel hand. The Breguet-style hands and the applied Maltese cross are made from white gold. As part of the Excellence Platine collection, even the stitching on the dark blue alligator strap is made from platinum and silk thread.
Quick facts: 40mm x 8.06mm (ref. 82035/000P-B748) – 950 platinum, polished – 30m water-resistance – sandblasted platinum dial and small seconds – 18k applied white gold Arabic numerals – railway minutes track – 18k white gold hour and minute hands – in-house manual-winding calibre 4400 AS– 28,800vph/4Hz – 21 jewels – 65h power reserve – Hallmark of Geneva certified – dark blue alligator leather hand-stitched with platinum and silk thread – EUR 50,000
More details at www.vacheron-constantin.com.