Vacheron Constantin introduces its third iteration of the Patrimony Self-Winding 36mm, this time in white gold with an automatic movement. Designed to swing it both ways, the new model will certainly be well received by women who appreciate a mechanical movement and who prefer the timeless elegance of a classic, round case, and a simple, refined dial. Unlike so many women’s watches that lure us with their sparkling gem-set surfaces and sugary motifs, Vacheron’s Patrimony 36mm proposes a timepiece that might seem Calvinist in appearance, but which is full of appealing details that will win converts from all denominations. But first a quick word on unisex watches.
The steady rise of unisex watches
Trends in the mechanical watch world tend to move at a rather more sedate pace than hi-tech products, but for horological trend spotters, there is no denying that, of late, there has been a noticeable reduction in case diameters. Not earth-shattering news for most mortals, but for watch aficionados, the return to more restrained diameters and volumes has been favourably met. Following the recession of 2009, the heady days of ashtray-sized, testosterone-fuelled watches were replaced by a panorama of more classic, vintage-inspired and, let’s admit it, wearable watches. In tandem with this general tendency, another interesting phenomenon has emerged in which the lines between men’s and women’s watches have gotten blurrier and blurrier. In fact, more and more brands are deliberately avoiding assigning an M or an F gender tag to some of their lines. Even Rolex, considered the bastion of Swiss watchmaking conservatism, has tapped into the trend and revisited its archetypal sports watch, the Oyster Perpetual, in five different sizes.
Vacheron’s Patrimony 36mm plays it both ways
The Patrimony Small 36mm model made its debut in 2012, and the accompanying press release was deliberately ambiguous about which gender was being targeted. Its ultra-slim manual winding movement kept the white or pink gold case at a sleek 6.7mm thickness, and the sides of the case were set with brilliant-cut diamonds. Although both sexes were drawn to the elegant proportions of this particular model, the presence of diamonds pushed into it more feminine territory. Revisited in 2017 in pink gold, with no diamonds on the case and an automatic movement, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Self-Winding 36mm struck upon a winning formula and gained confidence in the unisex terrain. Proof positive of the brand’s belief in the future of unisex models is the release of the new Patrimony 36mm “designed for men and women” in a 36mm white gold case and automatic movement.
What I like about this watch
The pure, uncluttered dial, offering just the right amount of information – hours, minutes, central seconds and date – is just what you want to admire after a day glued to a flashing computer screen. Although purists might quibble with a date window on a dress watch, it is a feature I really appreciate. With its slightly curved silvered opaline dial, punctuated by the elongated gold hour markers, the pearl-shaped minute markers and baton-shaped hands, the dial is, in my eyes, a triumph of serenity and elegance. Although I am partial to large watches, the 36mm diameter is perfect and won’t look passé in years to come.
Fitted with automatic in-house calibre 2450 Q6 and a respectable 40-hour power reserve, I love the fact that the movement can be viewed through the sapphire crystal case back. The beautiful finishes throughout, including the mesmerising 22k gold rotor decorated with a stylised Maltese Cross design and an exterior bushed sunray finish to reflect the light denote the pedigree of this timepiece.
History on the wrist
The possibility of owning a bit of history from the true veteran of watchmaking – with 260 uninterrupted years of uninterrupted activity – also makes this watch extremely tempting. The only thing I would quibble with is the choice of straps for this Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Self-Winding 36mm. Presented on either a black matte alligator or shiny red alligator strap, why not incorporate the DIY interchangeable strap system of the Overseas collection and let each owner of his/her Patrimony decide for himself/herself? The watch will retail for EUR 24,900. More details on www.vacheron-constantin.com.