Recently, we brought you Vacheron Constantin’s main novelty, an entirely new collection named Harmony, recognizable by its vintage elements, its cushion-shaped case and its truly appealing look. We knew only from seeing the press photos and the specification sheets that these watches were highly interesting and technically advanced. It’s time for us now to confirm these feelings after having worn one of them – and not the worst – as we are now going hands-on with the most complicated timepiece of the collection, the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph Caliber 3500.
With all due respect due to Vacheron Constantin and its talented manufacturing, it can not be seen as the most productive of the brands. It is a conservative, traditional watchmaker with a collection of very restrained, discreet watches. However, the quality of these watches is clearly one of the best of Switzerland, with extremely nice finishings and impressive complications. So when such a ‘Maison’ comes out with an entirely new collection, it’s always a big moment. Far from the Patrimony or Overseas collections, the new Harmony collection brings a new design, new details and mainly, new movements. Why these novelties? In order to celebrate the brand’s 260th anniversary. Let’s have a look now at the collection’s flagship, the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph Caliber 3500.
What we are talking about here is a really complicated watch. The list of the features is impressive:
- Single-pusher chronograph
- Split-second chronograph
- Ultra-Thin movement
- Peripheral rotor
- Hallmark of Geneva (Poinçon de Genève)
Alongside its new cushion-shaped case and its vintage elements (hands and scales on the dial), what best defines the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph is its superlative movement. First, it brings together the finest executions of a chronograph – a single-pusher mechanism AND a split-second. A single-pusher means that instead of the two push-buttons (usually located at 2 and 4), the movement of this VC only has one pusher to start, stop and reset the timing functions. It means a much more complicated system of levers to actuate the column wheel and the gears that compose the chronograph functions. Then, the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph also comes with a Split-Second mechanism (or rattrapante in French). It is made of 2 second hands, one over the other. In normal conditions, those two hands are moving together in parallel. However, a split-second chronograph allows to time intervals of time – for example to time laps, as the main hand continues its journey while the other hands is stopped to indicate the lap time. By pushing the button in the crown you can stop this secondary hand and start it again. It will instantly ‘catch up’ (rattraper in French) with the other one and continue its journey in parallel.
All of these elements are visible through the caseback. We can admire two column-wheels – one for the chronograph and one for the split-second mechanism, linked to the brake system in the very middle of the movement. Both column-wheels are elegantly adorned with the Malte Cross, Vacheron Constantin’s logo. Finishings are extremely nice, with straight graining on the levers, beveled angles on the bridges and levers and circular graining on the main plate. All parts are lavishly executed, as required by the Hallmark of Geneva.
Another very interesting feature is the self-winding mechanism. Usually, the rotor rotates over the movement and thus, adds some extra-thickness and, more importantly, partially hides the view on the movement’s beauty. Vacheron Constantin chose to go for a modern and rare solution, a peripheral rotor, like the Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Thin Automatic 5377 or the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Tourbillon Chronograph. It allows the movement to be very thin (5.20mm, which is impressive considering the usual thickness of a split-second chronograph) and to have a complete view on the movement. It thus has the comfort of an automatic movement, together with the beauty and thinness of a manual calibre.
On the wrist
The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph Caliber 3500 is not particularly small, with a case sized at 42mm x 52 mm. Typical to cushion-shaped watches, it looks quite large on the wrist due to the continuous line between the casebands and the lugs. It is also not the lightest watch, as it is made of (a lot of) 950 platinum. You can actually really feel weight of the watch but the shape helps to balance it and to keep a good comfort. What is really appreciable is the thickness of the watch, with only 8.40mm. It really helps to keep it discreet and reasonable, even if the movement and the complications are far from being reasonable (and we mean that in the most positive way.)
The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Grande Complication Chronograph is also very neutral and discreet, with its case in white metal, its white dial, the blue hands and the the blue alligator strap. It may be a very complicated watch, however it is not “showy” in any way. It could easily be seen as a classical chronograph. It is only when turning it around and looking at the superb movement that you understand that you’re dealing with something exceptional. Bravo Vacheron Constantin, c’est magnifique!