It’s been a busy year over at Vacheron Constantin with the opening of its largest boutique in New York and a satisfying mix of releases, both old and new. Its luxury sports watch family, the Overseas, expanded with precious case materials for its QP and Tourbillon and two ruggedly sporty Everest editions. Vacheron also celebrated the centennial of the wonderful American 1921 with a trilogy of vintage revivals in its Historiques collection. Just when it looked like the Traditionnelle collection would be given a miss, last month Vacheron presented its Traditionnelle Complete Calendar with a new dial colour and case material. Although it shares the same specs as the original model introduced in 2018, the latest iteration is sleeker, sharper and darker thanks to its slate grey velvety dial. Let’s take a closer look at this alluring, more contemporary take on the triple calendar.
Getting hipper in old age?
It might be the world’s oldest manufacture in continuous production, but if you ‘pop’ into Vacheron Constantin’s website today, you’ll notice a banner with the headline “Pop Into the New Year!” with a pop art image in the background accompanied by a text with interjections accompanied by lots of exclamation marks like “Oh!!!”, “WOW!!!” and “Bang!!!”. There is even a curated playlist of “upbeat, up-tempo driving tunes in celebration of the good times to come”. Looks like the marketing team at VC has been busy rejuvenating the brand’s image, a project that kicked off with the introduction of the entry-level Fiftysix collection followed by its “One of Not Many” campaign back in 2018. Whether the ‘faces’ chosen to represent the brand speak to you or not, there is no denying that Vacheron is dusting off its cobwebs and reaching out to a younger, hipper crowd – albeit a crowd with well-lined pockets. And this is a very positive thing when it comes to design, ensuring that some of the fustiness associated with grand Haute Horlogerie Maisons gets a good airing.
As Vacheron’s website explains, the Traditionnelle family is a repository of more traditional models ranging from the simplest to the most complicated with a reverence for Haute Horlogerie traditions passed on down from the 18th century. Positioned between a sophisticated perpetual calendar and a simpler time & date, a complete calendar (aka full or triple calendar) displays the date, day and month and requires an adjustment five times a year (at the end of 30-day months and February). More details on the different types of calendar watches to read in our technical article here.
Popularised in the 1940s and 1950s, Vacheron’s complete or triple calendar of this period was revisited with a compelling vintage flair in the Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 & 1948 models of 2017. Although the calendar complications are similar to those of its 20th-century ancestors, the main ‘souvenir’ in the layout of the Traditionnelle Complete Calendar is the use of a pointer hand for the date.
Just ahead of the 2018 edition of the SIHH, Vacheron released a Traditionnelle Complete Calendar “Excellence Platine”, a luxurious 100-piece platinum model with a sober, austere elegance that paved the way for the more classical and serially produced warm pink gold model with an opaline dial. What distinguishes Vacheron’s Complete Calendar from most triple calendar models is the beautifully balanced, legible layout. You can forget about busy sub-dials invading the dial or violent bursts of colour to highlight different functions. In short, you can feel the hand of the designer behind the Traditionnelle Complete Calendar, who has ensured there is plenty of breathing space on the dial.
The novelty here lies exclusively in the colour scheme of the dial. Vacheron’s designers have chosen an understated slate grey colour for the dial with a matte, almost velvety texture surrounded by a black chapter ring. And returning to the idea of Vacheron getting hipper in its old age, what could be more flattering and stylish than a dark, well-cut Italian suit?
The date is indicated on the periphery of the dial with crisp white Arabic numerals set against a black circular-brushed ring with a railroad minutes track. The pointer for the date is a white, crescent-tipped central hand, by far the most elegant solution for incorporating a date function on a dial. Unlike conventional triple calendars, the day and month are not positioned in the centre of the dial but placed in two rectangular apertures on the far edges of the dial above the 3 and 9 o’clock indices and close to the minutes track. With grey backgrounds to match the primary dial colour and white days of the week and months, the windows are discreet but legible and give the dial that all-important breathing space.
The moon phase indicator in the lower half of the dial charts the cycles of the moon with extraordinary precision and won’t need adjusting for 122 years. The age of the moon is also relayed by the Arabic numerals framing the counter that run from 0 to 29½. Once again, the background scenery of the moon phase is grey to match the dial, and the moons are made of white gold to match the indices. Depending on the light, the applied faceted and polished baton indices echo the colour of the gold case or look black, like the external date ring. The needle-sharp facets of the Dauphine hour and minutes hands, and the moons, also play with the light. As you would expect, there is not a trace of lume here.
The 18k white gold case measures 41mm with a height of 10.7mm, reasonable measurements that comply with today’s case widths without being excessive. The steeped case with its thin bezel and straight lugs does not detract from the dial, and the gleaming polished bezel contrasts markedly with the black and grey dial.
Calibre 2460 QCL
Already used inside the cushion-shaped Harmony Complete Calendar and in the two other Traditionnelle Complete Calendar models, the in-house automatic calibre 2460 QCL is certified by the Hallmark of Geneva. Calibre 2460 is an evolution of calibre 2450, the first automatic movement entirely designed and developed by Vacheron. With 308 components, the movement drives the triple calendar indications and the precision moon phase.
Turning over the watch, the white gold caseback with its fluted rim has a sapphire crystal window to view the movement with its openworked 22k gold rotor decorated with brushed areas and a polished Maltese cross. Beating at 4Hz, the power reserve is of 42 hours. Refined finishings on the movement include the Geneva stripes on the chamfered bridges and circular graining on the base plate.
Darker, sleeker, subtler are some adjectives that come to mind when admiring this watch. Also, the combination of cold white gold with black and grey is exquisitely sharp, while the white markings give the dial an almost technical look. With its pristine layout, flawless legibility and virile personality, in my mind, this third interpretation of the Complete Calendar is the most seductive of them all.
Availability & Price
The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Complete Calendar 4010T comes on a black alligator leather strap with a calfskin lining and an 18k white gold buckle with the signature half Maltese cross. It is not a limited edition and retails for EUR 40,800.
For more information, please consult www.vacheron-constantin.com.