The Historiques collection by Vacheron Constantin has already proffered up some stunning watches. When the brand goes vintage, it simply is the best of what they can do. Think about the American 1921 (more on that watch and a new version in a coming article) or the 1955 Cornes de Vache Chronograph. The same recipe of updated “vintage” is now applied to two rare 1940s watches with triple calendar complication in mind, in order to create the new Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 and 1948.
The new “Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942” on the right and the 1940s reference 4240 that inspired them on the left
The 1940s Vacheron Constantin Triple Calendar Ref. 4240
To understand the new Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 and 1948, we need to go back to the 1940s, because these two novelties use a distinctive vintage look by reinterpreting the aesthetic of iconic timepieces born in that post-Art Deco, pre-fifties era. One was born in 1942, the other, a slightly different version with an added moon-phase display, was created in 1948 – explaining the names of these new watches. However, both of them featured one iconic complication: the triple calendar (also called complete calendar).
In 1942, Vacheron Constantin introduced a watch – now highly collectable, as it was produced in extremely low numbers – under the reference 4240. A 35mm diameter, with iconic “Cornes de Vache” lugs, a case with Triple gadroon profile and a distinctive display, with the date on the periphery and the day of the week and the month seen in windows at 12. While most of the 4240 watches were produced in yellow or pink gold, a few examples have been created in steel – explaining why today’s re-edition also shares this specification. Inside was the hand-wound calibre 485.
Later, in 1948, the watch would evolve with the addition of a moon-phase display, located inside the small second counter at 6 – one of the most iconic displays ever – with a slightly different case and dial – many variations existed – becoming the reference 4240L (L for Lune). These two watches, including some specific colour codes found at that time, have been reissued today with the new Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 and 1948.
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942
The first watch that Vacheron Constantin have introduced in this new collection is the Historiques Triple Calendar 1942, a watch strongly inspired by a steel version of the ref. 4240 (no moon), although as always with VC, we’re not looking at a simple copy-paste process, but more an interpretation of the past in modern dimensions and with up-to-date technical solutions… even if the past model has been widely sampled here.
Everything starts with the display and the dial. Just like the 1942 model, we have the typical vintage “triple calendar” layout: date-by-hand on the periphery, day and month at 12, central hours and minutes, and small seconds at 6. Of course, as a modern watch, the indications are much smaller now, the watch being differently sized. Yet the feeling of the past is still present. The same goes for the style of this dial, which takes great inspiration from its 1942 predecessor in the layout and numerals: there is same two-tone dial, the same stylized Arabic numerals, the same use of cold and warm colours and the same baton hands in blued steel for the time, as well as the same arrow hand for the date… The overall resemblance is quite striking, and the 1940s codes are clearly present, resulting in a very desirable dial.
As for the shape of the case, if the diameter has been increased from 35mm to 40mm, the design remains true to the past. Vacheron Constantin is never shy in creating original shapes, always with a perfectly controlled elegance, and this Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 features a “triple gadroon” case (see the specific style of the caseband), onto which are attached re-shaped “cornes de vache” lugs (slightly more angular than in the past). Highly original, quite unique and still perfectly subtle. One other significant point here with the Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 is that the case is made of stainless steel, meaning a more accessible price.
Inside the case of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 is a new hand-wound movement, based on the well-known calibre 4400 (used in various Patrimony, Traditionnelle or Historiques VC watches). Here it becomes the Calibre 4400 QC (QC for “Quantième Complet”, French for complete calendar). Perfectly finished, as certified by the Geneva Seal, it beats at a modern frequency of 4 Hz and offers a comfortable 65h power reserve. Seen from the back, it’s not the most spectacular movement made by VC, however, it still features flawless decoration and some nicely designed bridges.
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 will be available in two variations, one with burgundy accents for the calendar indications and a brown strap, and the other with blue accents for the calendar indications and a blue strap – references 3110V/000A-B425 & 3110V/000A-B426. Retail price will be EUR 19,800.
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1948
The second watch to be introduced is a dressier, more luxurious and slightly more refined version of the vintage triple calendar. Indeed, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1948 takes inspiration from the vintage ref. 4240L, meaning the inclusion of a moon display, but still with the vintage-inspired complete calendar display.
While the central part of the 40mm x 10.35mm case of this Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1948 is identical to the previous 1942 version, it has two main differences. First, it is only available in 18k pink gold, and secondly the lugs are finished with a “claw” profile, slimmer, longer and more tapered than the “cornes de vache”. Both elements create a slightly different perception and a watch with more classical elegance and more luxurious appeal.
Such details can also be found on the dial of this Historiques Triple Calendar 1948. There are no stylized Arabic numerals here, but instead a combination of appliques, shaped in faceted triangles or in the form of Roman numerals. In the same vein, the hands are gold and the two-tone dial has a warmer colour, a sort of off-white, creamy silver (called opaline silver by Vacheron), which matches perfectly the rich colour of the pink gold case. While the display (date-by-hand, day and month at 12, small second at 6) is the same, we can see the addition of the moon-phase at 6 – the traditional location of this complication in complete calendar watches.
The case of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1948 houses the same movement, based on the 4400, with the addition of the moon display – under the name 4400 QCL. This watch will be available in two versions, one with burgundy accents for the calendar and a brown strap, and one with blue accents for the calendar and a blue strap – references 3100V/000R-B359 & 3100V/000R-B422. Retail price will be EUR 35,400. However, unlike the 1942, these Historiques Triple Calendar 1948 will be limited editions of 200 pieces per colour.
More details on www.vacheron-constantin.com.