The Historiques line brings together contemporary re-issues of Vacheron Constantin past glories. There’s the Ultra-Fine 1955, a rigorist interpretation of the extra-flat dress watch. And then, there are these three unapologetically elegant watches standing out for their original character. I had got the opportunity to go hands-on with the cushion-shaped American 1921 and the Chronograph 1955 Cornes de Vache. But not yet with the stylish Historiques Triple Calendar 1942. It was about time to remedy the omission…
As its name suggests, the Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 is a vintage re-edition directly inspired by the Vacheron Constantin from 1942, the reference 4240. While the first Vacheron Constantin calendar wristwatches date back to 1920, the 1940s are often regarded as the golden age of this complication in the history of the brand. Back then, the reference 4240 had been manufactured in yellow and pink gold but also in steel. Looking with today’s eyes on the model, the 4240 is a great classic with design quirks, these little things that make it charming, endearing and unique… The claw or cornes de vache lugs, the very thin bezel paired with a slightly protruding box-crystal or the triple-gadroon caseband. The calendar indication combines apertures for the day and the month with a pointer date. The watch was powered by the calibre 495 based on a Jaeger-LeCoultre ébauche – Back then, Jaeger-Lecoultre and Vacheron Constantin were controlled by the same holding company, the SAPIC (Société Anonyme de Produits Industriels et Commerciaux).
Launched back in 2017 alongside the Historiques 1948, the modern Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 is unmistakably inspired by the reference 4240 but it is not a straightforward copy of the original. The case has been updated to modern standards. It is now 40mm (versus 35mm for the original) but it remains quite compact and elegant on the wrist. The claw-shaped lugs are not only graceful but also highly ergonomic. The crown is smaller but thicker. The 3-gadroon caseband, probably the most distinctive element of this watch, creates superb plays of light and adds an incredible character. The water resistance, as expected from such a dressy watch, is limited to 30 meters.
With its blue accents, the two-tone cream-coloured dial combines retro-chic charm and perfect readability. Everything is just crisp and neat. It features a delicate sunburst-satin finish and a slightly recessed small seconds at 6 o’clock with a concentric pattern. The blued hands also come with a twist. The baton-style minute hand is not only longer but also thinner than the hour hand. These are paired with a red arrow tipped pointer date, indicating the current date on a peripheral track – a classic layout of the 1940s. And the two other indications, the day of the week and the month, are displayed in smaller windows positioned at 12 o’clock.
Inside the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 is the hand-wound calibre 4400 QC. As its name suggests, it is based on the in-house calibre 4400, which replaced the calibre 1400, the brand’s first modern in-house calibre. The mention QC signals the addition of the calendar function (Quantième Complet or full calendar in English). Running at a 4Hz frequency, it delivers a comfortable 65-hour power reserve.
Turning the watch over, the exhibition caseback offers an unimpeded view of this movement. 29mm in diameter, it befits the case dimensions. As you would expect, it is finely finished, in coherence with the Geneva Hallmark specifications. The beautifully shaped bridges and the plate are adorned with Geneva stripes and perlage, their angles are nicely chamfered; the jewel sinks delicately polished. The annular balance is paired with a flat balance spring. The calendar functions can be corrected via the pushers integrated within the caseband.
The Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 is worn on a hand-sewn blue alligator strap with an alligator lining. Last but not least, it comes with the signature polished half Maltese cross-shaped buckle in steel. Note that this watch is available in two editions, the present models with blue accents on the dial (for the date track and calendar windows) with a blue strap, as well as a model with burgundy accents on the dial and a dark brown strap.
I have always had a weak spot for retro-styled triple calendars. The complication is practical while being a great compromise between the simple calendar and the more expensive/complex annual or perpetual calendars. The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 perfectly straddles the line between being elegantly classic and having enough character to stand out, without being too loud. It is finely executed with remarkable attention to detail. In short, it is the type of watch that makes you fall in love at first sight. Some will always be nostalgic of the charm, of the distinctive personality or the patina of the original 1940s models. Others will appreciate the functionality and upgrades brought by a modern release. The 4240s are very rare anyway. And the 1942 proudly upholds the Vacheron Constantin tradition of crafting elegant calendar watches.
Availability & Price
The two editions of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendar 1942 are part of the brand’s permanent collection and are available from boutiques and retailers. It is priced at EUR 21,700 (incl. taxes), CHF 22,200 (incl. taxes) or USD 21,900 (excl. taxes). For more information, please visit www.vacheronconstantin.com