In a piece of news that dropped on our computers a couple of weeks ago, Vacheron Constantin announced several new “Historiques” watches. As a reminder, this collection comprises the deliberately “vintage-inspired” models of the brand, including the American 1921 or the Chronograph Cornes de Vaches. With the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942, saying that we’ve been impressed is something of an understatement. Beautifully designed, balanced, with heritage and pedigree, and all of that in an “accessible” (relatively speaking) steel case. It is now time to experience this Triple Calendrier 1942 in the metal.
The initiating piece, the vintage Triple Calendar Ref. 4240
When it comes to the “Historiques” collection at Vacheron Constantin, nothing emerges from scratch and there’s always a source of inspiration behind these pieces. Without describing it as a copy-pasting process here, the new Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 clearly is influenced by an antique – and extremely rare and important – watch from VC. In this case it is the Vacheron Constantin Triple Calendrier, or ref. 4240. Born in 1942 (hence the name of the new model), the 4240 was Vacheron’s first wristwatch with a triple/complete/full calendar display.
A Steel example of the Vacheron Constantin Triple Calendar 4240 – Credits: Christie’s
Vacheron entered rather early on the triple calendar watches’ market, or more precisely in 1929, although that was with a pocket watch, showing a large central window with 3 discs – one for the day of the week, one for the date, one for the month. It was only in 1942 that the idea of the triple calendar eventually made it into a wristwatch. Yet, this is not the only reason why this specific piece should be regarded as important.
Another Steel example of the Vacheron Constantin Triple Calendar 4240 – from Vacheron’s own archives
The vintage Triple Calendar Ref. 4240 became an icon over the years, after a rather long period of doubts and questions concerning its very existence, and the authenticity of the few pieces that came on to auction. However, those doubts were temporary, and the 4240 became a proper icon. Several models and subsequent variations were created (in yellow or pink gold, even some rare two-tone cases, with different types of lugs, with different dials or indexes), however, the one that is today on centre stage is the 35mm steel version, with tear-drop lugs and a unique case profile, with several “gadroons”.
The Calibre 485 inside the Ref. 4240
In terms of style, the 4240 is all about the classic definition of the Triple Calendrier, with a display that would be seen later in many other watches: with the date and month in windows at 12, small second at 6, and time on the central axis, with an additional central hand for the date. An extremely balanced display. Also, the movement inside this watch, calibre 485, is as iconic as the watch it powers.
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 (and yes, it’s steel)
Let’s now move to the new piece, which is a modern interpretation of an old piece. Yes, again a vintage-inspired watch, and again it could have been mild. There are dozens of retro watches being done these years, but few can really get the title of “instant crush”… This Vacheron Constantin did. The Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 manages two difficult aspects: being historically relevant and still being original on its own. Vintage appeal on one side, a general appreciation for the watch itself on the other. Two ideals that are difficult to match.
Let’s start with the first impressions about this watch: balanced, elegant, retro, classical. In just a glance, there’s a strong attraction for this watch, a feeling that was almost unanimously shared by all the journalists and collectors attending the day of the presentation. Then, there’s the second impression that this watch makes on you, the one that comes after a closer inspection, once you let it reveal its details. There’s a lot going on in this design, more than a simple look would suggest. In fact, this watch is much more complex than just a historically-based and copied model, it is a complete reinterpretation with modern codes, yet perfectly executed.
Let’s discover the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 step by step. First, the case. Vacheron Constantin has a long tradition of shaped watches and original details, with many “montres de formes“, with a great mastery of the tonneau watches. One other hallmark of VC are the lugs, for instance, “claw“, “cornes de vaches” or “tear-drop” lugs, all perfect examples of this controlled eccentricity that VC has applied on its watches since the 1920s. This is found again here, with the 1942. However, before looking at the details, it must be noted that the case of this watch is made in stainless steel… Quite an noteworthy move from the brand, allowing for this watch to be priced at a relatively accessible price (note: gold will also be available but in the 1948 limited edition).
In details, the case is a perfectly round barrel of 40mm – quite a step forward compared to the 35mm vintage 4240, but still a reasonable size to meet modern standards. This case is very complex in shape, especially on the sides. The profile has been designed accordingly to the ref. 4240, with a “triple gadroon” style, combined with a stepped bezel and a raised sapphire crystal. The profile is complex and voluntarily loaded, and on the other hand, when viewed from a perpendicular angle, the Triple Calendrier 1942 feels relatively simple. This succession of convex lines gives all its originality to the watch, yet with a certain discretion. The case is entirely polished, and knowing the complexity of the profile, it is even more surprising to see it in a common material.
Another important factor in the design of this Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 are the “tear-drop” or “goutte” lugs, a traditional feature in VC’s history. Here, the design team decided to modernize them, with a more present and bolder shape. As loaded as the case is, it doesn’t detract either from the rest of the watch, knowing its greatly balanced dial and display.
- Dial and Display
The dial of the Triple Calendrier 1942 is clearly an ode to the past. The resemblance with some specific details of the ref. 4240 is, at first, blatant. Its layout, proportions, colours and finishings are all historically correct. The display features the classical layout of 1940s-1950s triple/complete/full calendar watches, with day and date in windows at 12, placed under the logo of the brand, small second at 6, central hands for the hours, the minutes and the date hand, which points to a peripheral track. The first thing to note is about the proportions of the different indications. The small second, for instance, is perfectly positioned, not too close from the axis of the hands, and just above the tracks surrounding the dial. Same goes for the day and month windows, which feels smaller than on the vintage edition for a more elegant result.
The choice of colour is also quite wise, with a two-tone dial. The central part and the minute rail-road track are opaline with a very subtle sun-ray pattern, while the date track is slightly contrasting with a white tone and a matte finish. Note that two colours are available for this watch, with most of the differences being the colour of the text in the windows, the colour of the date numerals and the colour of the strap. One is all about blue, the other plays on warm tones of burgundy and brown.
Just like the old model, time is indicated by long and thin baton hands in blued steel and the date via a dark silver hand with a red arrow on the tip. Again, just like the case, this classic design is enlightened by original details. For instance, the numerals are highly stylized, with an art-deco font. Overall, the dial of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 is perfectly balanced, originally stylized and very elegant.
If the habillage of this Triple Calendrier 1942 is very pleasant to the eye, the mechanics inside haven’t been forgotten either. Inside this collection is a hand-wound movement, just like the vintage model, yet with modern specifications and a superb decoration. Inside is the Calibre 4400 QC (QC for “Quantième Complet”, French for complete calendar), based on the well-known calibre 4400, as used in various Patrimony (the Excellence Platine), Traditionnelle (the Small Second), Malte (the classical Malte Time-Only) or Historiques (the American 1921) watches. Here, we have an evolution with Triple Calendar module.
When observed from the caseback side, this 4400 QC is a rather reserved movement, not very demonstrative. Its bridges are rather plain and, even if they have nice curves, not much is visible. But, as with the rest of the watch, you’ll have to pay attention to the details. Indeed, the decoration is on the high-end side, with polished bevels, internal angles, bevelled wheel spokes, nice engravings, perlage on the main plate… Everything that, in fact, is required in a Poinçon de Genève movement. Because indeed, this calibre 4400 QC, even if the watch is steel and priced accordingly, is certified and tested by the hallmark of Geneva.
Technically, this is a modern hand-wound movement with a 4Hz frequency and 65h of power reserve. Furthermore, the movement is large enough to fill the case and allows for a nice view.
As said already in the introduction, Vacheron Constantin had an impressive release with this new Triple Calendrier 1942. If you put the question of the style apart (this is way too personal to be objective), this watch ticks all the boxes: pedigree, mechanical pleasure, retro feeling mixed with modern elements, originality with yet some great elegance, uniqueness of the design and clear Vacheron Constantin DNA. This is the kind of watch that one could expect from such a manufacture.
Then you have to consider the price: EUR 19,800… Very impressive when you consider the level of decoration of the movement, the complication used and the execution of both the case and the dial. Having this watch in steel is not only quite sexy, but it also makes the brand accessible to different collectors, who will certainly feel attracted by the look and the vintage elements. It is honestly difficult to find another watch with such pedigree, such quality and an equivalent name printed on the dial priced to this price level (at least, no equal offer exists from the other 2 brands of the Holy Trinity). For sure, it is a lot of money, but a well-deserved price tag. Side note: if this model is not officially limited or numbered, it won’t be easily available, as the production numbers will remain confidential, to keep this model exclusive. More details on www.vacheron-constantin.com.
Technical Specifications – Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942
- Case: 40mm diameter x 10.35mm height – stainless steel, triple gadroon profile, entirely polished – sapphire crystal on both sides – 30m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre 4400 QC, in-house – Certified by the Poinçon de Genève – hand-wound – 65h power reserve – 4Hz frequency – hours, minutes, pointer date, small second, day and month
- Strap: Alligator leather in blue or brown, steel pin buckle
- Reference: 3110V/000A-B426 (Blue model) – 3110V/000A-B425 (Burgundy model)
- Price: EUR 19,800