Our guest contributor Angus Davies gets all poetic today. That’s what a mix of cold and rainy autumn weather and the sight of the beautiful and elegant Vacheron Constantin Historiques Aronde 1954 does…
I am sitting at my desk looking through a rain soaked window. My heart is tinged with melancholy. The prospect of winter is somewhat foreboding. I know the cold weather is coming, prolonged dark nights encourage hibernation beneath a duvet with double digit tog rating.
A swallow has the right idea. A brief sojourn to the British Isles in temperate summer months, April or May, and then a speedy return to warmer climes in September or October before hostile, inclement weather arrives. There is a rationale to the swallow’s itinerary. I have empathy with their logic.
Small and beautifully formed, they fly with grace. Their anatomy is sleek, perfectly suited for the purpose of flight. One facet of their graceful frame, the swallow’s wings, has provided inspiration to an equally elegant timepiece from Vacheron Constantin. Aronde or swallow’s wings, refers to the double-rounded curve unfurling along the flanks of the caseband. This is yet another expertly executed artistic expression from the masters of horological design, Vacheron Constantin.
I can think of few other brands that can usurp the Genevan manufacture when it comes to the accomplished optimisation of curving lines and felicitous forms. The Historiques Aronde 1954 was launched at SIHH in 2011 and joins other models in the Historiques range. It is not the first time my horological tastebuds have salivated at the prospect of a Vacheron Constantin inspired by a former model from its impressive back catalogue. Join me on a journey to a warmer, happier place.
￼A post-war model of 1954 provides inspiration for the Historiques Aronde 1954, however, the rectangular case is currently unique within the range and provides a charming variation which has immediate aesthetic appeal. The opaline silvered dial consists of four panels with hand applied lines courtesy of the guillocher’s accomplished skill. The lines sit perpendicular to those depicted on the neighbouring panels. The design pleasingly courts light in a playful ritual. It delivers sublime outcomes which will engender smiling appreciation for many years to come.
Applied gold batons and numerals are used to indicate hours. Arabic numerals are used sparingly, reserved solely for 6 o’clock and noon. Underneath 12 o’clock the brand’s logo, the Maltese cross, regally resides, resplendent in gold. Beneath this the name of one of the oldest watch companies is proudly proclaimed.
The gold hour and minute hands are seemly and understated. This is congruent with the restrained refinement of the timepiece. It does not shout with brash overtures but quietly converses with the fortunate wearer. Towards the southerly aspect of the dial is the subsidiary seconds display with a neat, slim gold hand. It sits within a rectangular subdial, delicately marked with four black lines.
A warm 18-carat pink gold case raises the temperature and takes the chill out of the winter air. The aforementioned swallow’s wings converge adjacent to 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. The caseband has an emerging bevelled edge, culminating at its most visible along an imaginary horizontal axis spanning east to west through the middle of the dial.
The arcing lines are not restricted merely to those visible from the front. If the watch is viewed from the side, the caseband is curved, ￼reaching upwards towards the heavens, then swooping downwards towards the centre like a valley beneath two mountains. The sapphire crystal is pleasingly profiled to follow this contour, creating a delightful facade few could fail to love.
The short horns cuddle the strap in close embrace. Their length is perfectly judged, neither too long nor too short. The crown is neat, appearing to almost nestle within the caseband. It carries the Maltese cross on its vertical flank.
The caseback is solid. I know there is matchless finissage residing within the case and would prefer to see the beautiful movement. However, Vacheron Constantin is a traditional brand, well versed in horological etiquette. They would never reveal a round movement unless it was in a round case. The Calibre 1400 AS is round, yet beautiful, but alas hidden from view. Nevertheless, I respect the maison’s principles and dream of seeing a rectangular movement one day with its plumage full displayed.
The Calibre 1400 AS is a hand-wound manufacture movement. I have had the good fortune to tour the production facilities of Vacheron Constantin and witness first hand the peerless craftsmanship which is distilled to perfection. Artisans in the modern atelier meticulously finish movements to an elevated level. There are few who can outperform this brand in terms of anglage, perlage and dressage.
Regular independent inspection by the Laboratoire d’Horlogerie et de Microtechnique de Genève ensures that high standards of manufacture are maintained. The 12 point criteria required to comply with the Poinçon de Genève is obediently followed. The Hallmark of Geneva adorning the watch reaffirms the provenance of this distinguished brand.
Philippe Dufour, one of the most esteemed watchmakers of modern times, had a close look at caliber 1400AS and commented: “… the movement is very well constructed and the movement finish is among the best available in series production. He also said that the bridge shapes had been made in a way which would make finishing difficult but which would also be a showpiece of the finishing talents of the watchmakers at VC!” – Quote from The Hour Lounge, Vacheron’s “in-house” forum.
￼I look at the caseband of this watch and marvel at the intricate angles which convene near the crown. The watch has many qualities, but it is this partcular aspect which melts my heart.
The swallow’s wings fly towards the sun, where warmth is guaranteed and sunlight lifts the soul. The temperate hue of the Aronde’s case provides a magnificent metaphor for cosy relaxation and the perfect antidote to the winter blues.
- Model: Vacheron Constantin Historiques Aronde 1954 Model reference: 81018/000R-9657
- Case: 18-carat pink gold case; dimensions 31.20 mm x 44.50 mm; height 10.20 mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and solid caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds
- Movement: 1400 AS; Hand-wound movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 20 jewels; 40 hours power reserve.
- Strap: Brown alligator strap on pin buckle