When I first laid eyes on the Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile, when it was first introduced in 2007, I didn’t exactly know how to position it. This watch, or better these watches, were a tad more sporty / casual than the average classic dress watch, and also a bit more chic than the average sports watch. Maybe a perfect allrounder? The unique mix-n-match case options offered customers to choose from various materials – red gold, titanium, steel – to create their ultimate personalised combination. In theory a great option, however in reality it confused potential customers. Now, nine years after the initial launch, we see two new stainless steel versions of the Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile. And that’s not all… the new steel Quai de l’Ile sports the all new calibre 5100/1. Could this maybe be the perfect allrounder?
The herd of the Quai de l’Ile collection has already been thinned, and comprises, besides the two new steel models, a Day-Date and Power Reserve, a Retrograde Annual Calendar, and two ‘standard’ Quai de l’Ile models. The case of the latter two is still a mix of titanium and 18K pink gold. The two calendar models are entire executed in 18k pink gold. The (older) mix-n-match Quai de l’Ile also featured a host semi-transparent dial options, with multi-layer 3D style of displaying functions or offering a peak on the movement below the dial. That also has come to an end. Simply too many options!
And now there are two new models, in stainless steel, one with a white dial, and the other with a black dial. Price-wise things all of a sudden became MUCH more interesting as these beauties are now available for € 16,400 euro each. Retail price. Including taxes. Yes you read it correct, a proper Vacheron Constantin with the brand’s new in-house movement, calibre 5100/1, and it comes with the Geneva Hallmark.
I guess it’s clear that I’m enthusiastic. Is it the dial? Or the case? Actually it’s the entire package that I like so much. The dial with its vintage-inspired ‘sector-dial’ just rocks. The watch features such a beautifully balanced mix-n-match style of modernity and vintage style elements. The sculptured case, with alternating polished and satin-brushed finishes, is also an absolute feast for the eye, and doesn’t bore easily.
Since the watch bears the Geneva Hallmark, this is a quality seal for the entire package. Since 2012 the Geneva Hallmark includes more than quality standards for the movement. These standards were already quite rigorous, however as of 2012 they became even more difficult to obtain. In that year they included test that simulate the movement of a wearer, for seven consecutive days. The encased movement also needs to function as it should, and the power reserve has to be equal or above the level as stated by the manufacturer. Now the movements are encased for the Geneva Hallmark tests, water resistance will also be tested.
The effect of all this on the manufacturing process is immense, and the quality standards to meet are very stringent. From the smallest details, like polished screw heads and slots, to testing the encased movement, in other words a fully functional wrist watch, obtaining the Geneva Hallmark has a huge effect on everything from designing a watch, manufacturing, finishing, and testing. The goal is of course to create a watch that is of superlative quality. It can take up to 40% longer in production time, compared with a non-certified movement!
As said before, there are two new models, one with a black dial, and one with a white/silver dial. Which one do you prefer?
The new calibre 5100 is a brand new Vacheron Constantin in-house developed and manufactured movement. It indicates hours, minutes, central seconds and the date. The oscillator beats at a steady pace of 28,800 vph or 4Hz, and two main spring barrels provide a comfortable 60 hours of power reserve.
The rotor, often called oscillating weight or winding mass, should easily rotate due to movements of your arm/wrist. For that it needs enough inertia, and therefore the Genevan-based brand choose for tungsten. Tungsten is not often used in the watch industry, however due to its hardness and its weight, it is a rather ideal material for the rotor.
Vacheron Constantin calibre 5100 is finished to the very highest standards in order to meet with the standards of the Geneva Hallmark. Think along the lines of chamfering, polishing, circular graining, and Côtes de Genève on the bridges.
I started this article with the question whether this could be a perfect allrounder. Its size (41 x 11.75 mm) dictates that it actually doesn not qualify as a proper classic dress watch. Same goes for the looks, as there’s a bit too much going on on the dial and also the case is less understated than the case of a classic dress watch. So does it match well with a suit & tie? Absolutely! Is it a sports watch? Well, it certainly would make a great combo with jeans and a polo shirt, or even jeans and jacket. However it does not qualify as a thoroughbred sports watch. It actually qualifies for pretty much everything, except as pure dress watch or pure sports watch. I guess it’s save to say that this watch would be a perfect daily compagnon for most men, for at least 90% of their time.
And with the price level of € 16,400 Euro and the Geneva Hallmark, I would almost say that it’s a bargain.
Specifications Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile in steel
- Case: stainless steel, 41 mm diameter, 11.75 mm thick, sapphire crystal caseback, water-resistant to 3 bar (approx. 30 meters), alternating polished and satin-brushed
- Movement: Vacheron Constantin calibre 5100/1, self-winding, twin barrels, 60 hours of power reserve, 4 Hz (28’800 vibrations/hour), 172 components, 37 jewels
- Strap: brown alligator leather with black alsavel lining, hand-stitched, large square scales, comes with a second strap in black rubber, stainless steel triple-folding clasp with push-pieces, polished half Maltese cross-shaped
More info at the Vacheron Constantin website.