In 2009, Vacheron Constantin unveiled the Historiques American 1921, a re-edition of one of its classic timepieces from the Art Deco period that was made exclusively for the North American market. A highly desirable watch, it pays homage to what is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful yet original Vacheron Constantin models ever made. Despite its modest (on paper) 40mm size, the squared case wears quite large on the wrist, discouraging some collectors. Listening to this feedback, the brand announced today that the Historiques American 1921 will now also be available in a mid-size, unisex version with a case measuring 36.5mm. Read on for all the details.
The Original Re-Edition
As a quick refresher for those not familiar with the collection, the American 1921 is part of Vacheron Constantin’s Historiques collection, which presents modern versions of distinctive watches from the firm’s 254-year history. The Historique American 1921 is not actually based on a single Vacheron Constantin watch from the 1920’s, but rather on an amalgam of two different models. I’ve included a brief summary below from an article we published more than nine years ago, which you can read here.
In 1919, the company made a watch in a cushion-shaped case with a crown placed at the upper left corner, at 11. Due to the crown position and the use of a conventional movement from a pocket watch, the dial was turned slightly so that the 12 position aligned with the crown, at the upper left corner. The idea was that if you wore the watch on your right wrist while driving, you could easily the read time without having to take your hand off the steering wheel. This model was produced in a limited run of 12 pieces, all of which were originally meant to be shipped directly to New York. Some, however, were eventually made available to the other markets that asked (begged) for this piece.
Two years later, in 1921, Vacheron Constantin followed up with a variation of this model, called the American 1921. The most noticeable change was that the crown had been relocated from the upper left corner to the upper right corner, and now sat at the 1 o’clock position. The dial was tilted the opposite way as well, so that the 12 o’clock position still aligned with the dial, and the small seconds sub-dial was diagonally opposite at 6 o’clock. This model was also limited to 12 pieces, all of which were sold over a 10-year period, with the last one being sold in 1931.
For the Historiques American 1921 re-edition, Vacheron Constantin combined the case and crown position of the vintage American 1921 with the more elegant dial design of the earlier model from 1919. Presented in a stunning 18k rose gold case measuring 40mm in diameter (yellow gold and platinum also available now), it boasts an in-house movement, the calibre 4400, which was brand new at the time. This manual winding movement features a small second hand at a 90-degree angle from the winding crown and is adorned with the Hallmark of Geneva. As a result, the small-seconds subdial on the American 1921 is positioned at 3 o’clock, which would correspond to 4:30 on a traditional dial. This is in contrast to its predecessors, which used a Lépine movement with the small seconds and crown in a co-linear formation.
The New Mid-Size Model
Now that you’ve familiarised yourself once again with the original re-edition of the American 1921, let’s look at what’s different about this new unisex version. Thankfully, the answer is not much. In fact, the only real difference is the size of the case. That’s right, Vacheron Constantin has managed to faithfully reproduce the American in a more wearable, 36.5mm cushion-shaped case made from 18k 5N pink gold and measuring 7.25mm thick (compared to 8.0mm on the earlier model).
The finely grained silver-toned dial features the same black painted Arabic numerals and rail-road minute track, complete with slender open-tipped hands in black oxidised 18K gold. Inside is the same Vacheron Constantin 4400AS manual-winding calibre, beating at 28,800vph and offering a 65-hour power reserve. Visible through the sapphire caseback, the movement is nicely decorated, with all edges cleanly bevelled, and a lovely wave pattern adorning the bridges and cocks. As with the previous model, the Historiques American 1921 Mid-Size Model bears the Hallmark of Geneva.
To reflect its unisex status, the watch will be presented with two straps. One is hand-stitched in brown Mississippiensis alligator leather with large square scales, alligator inner-shell and saddle-finish. The other is a more feminine red Mississippiensis alligator shiny leather with square scales, alsavel inner shell and stitched-tip – meaning that there’s an option for you and your dear wife… Both straps close with a polished 18K 5n pink gold buckle in the shape of a half Maltese cross.
Undoubtedly, collectors and enthusiasts alike will welcome this smaller, arguably more wearable version of the Historiques American 1921. It also makes the model more accessible to female buyers, which I think is a great move on the part of Vacheron Constantin, as this is a super cool, yet totally understated looking watch, no matter whose wrist it is on. Price is set at EUR 30,300. More details on www.vacheron-constantin.com.
Technical Specifications – Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 Mid-Size Model
- Case: 36.5mm x 7.25mm – 18k 5N pink gold – sapphire crystal on front and rear – 30m water resistance
- Movement: calibre 4400 AS – manual wind – 4Hz frequency – 65h power reserve – Hours and minutes, small seconds on sub-dial – Hallmark of Geneva
- Strap: Brown alligator leather / Red alligator leather with 18k 5N pink gold buckle
- Reference: 1100S/000R-B430
- Price: EUR 30,300