Introducing Vacheron Constantin's Novelties at Watches and Wonders 2021

Introducing Vacheron Constantin's Novelties at Watches and Wonders 2021

Something is going on at Vacheron Constantin in terms of them hitting their stride with successive launches of damnably great watches each and every year. Case in point: straight out of the gate, Vacheron Constantin has launched two of the very best watches of 2021.

The first is the new 100-piece Collection Excellence Platine version of its famous Historiques American 1921 driver’s watch with the dial canted 45 degrees clockwise. The second is a new white gold version of the already frickin’ magnificent Overseas Perpetual Calendar. Both represent Vacheron Constantin at its very best by demonstrating a great dynamic tension between vintage and modern design, elegance and refinement in spades, and originality in form.

Historiques American 1921 – Collection Excellence Platine

The Historiques American 1921 has been one of Vacheron Constantin’s most iconic modern watches since it was relaunched back in 2005, based on a design conceived in the early part of the 20th century. The Roaring Twenties in the United States was a time of great cultural and artistic change. In particular, the automobile had created an unprecedented level of interconnectivity and freedom. Vacheron Constantin responded to a request for a watch that was easier to read when the driver’s hands were on the steering wheel, by taking a stunning cushion-shaped watch and tilting the dial and movement by 45 degrees.

While the original Historiques American 1921 had the seconds subdial at six o’clock, the new version has the subdial at three o’clock
While the original Historiques American 1921 had the seconds subdial at six o’clock, the new version has the subdial at three o’clock

The original watches came with movements that were canted both clockwise as well as counterclockwise. The interesting thing was that the seconds subdial was always at six o’clock relative to the placement of the crown at 12 o’clock, as presumably the watches were using modified pocket watch calibers. In contrast, the modern interpretation has its subdial at three o’clock, relative to a crown placement at 12 o’clock, which is normal for a modern wristwatch using the VC caliber 4400. What is impressive is that the shift in placement of the subdial in the modern watch works perfectly, and the watch has become one of the most beloved in the Vacheron lexicon.

Vacheron Constantin Heritage reference 11032 from 1919 and reference 11677 from 1921
Vacheron Constantin Heritage reference 11032 from 1919 and reference 11677 from 1921
The new 100-piece limited edition celebrates the centenary of the Historiques American 1921
The new 100-piece limited edition celebrates the centenary of the Historiques American 1921
The new 100-piece limited edition celebrates the centenary of the Historiques American 1921

But to say that the 100-piece limited edition created to celebrate the centenary of this icon is stunning doesn’t suffice to express its true mind-blowing awesomeness. The 1921 is the first Historiques watch that was given the Collection Excellence Platine treatment — meaning, a platinum case, platinum dial and even platinum thread in the bracelet all receiving different surface treatment and finishes to highlight the beauty of the material. The way this has been executed for the Historiques American 1921 results in a watch of incredible beauty. The masterpiece here is the dial, which has been given a sandblasted treatment and then affixed with white gold applied Arabic numerals and Breguet hands. If Vacheron were to make just a simple watch in this configuration — say, from its 40mm Patrimony collection — I have no doubt it would be a bestseller. The small seconds subdial is rendered with a circular guilloché finish and uses a flame-blued seconds hand. The 40mm platinum case is, as expected, superbly polished and the blue alligator strap with platinum and silk top stitching complements it well.

The 1921 is the first Historiques watch to be given the Collection Excellence Platine treatment, which means the case, dial and even the platinum thread in the bracelet have received different surface treatments and finishes to highlight the beauty of the material
The 1921 is the first Historiques watch to be given the Collection Excellence Platine treatment, which means the case, dial and even the platinum thread in the bracelet have received different surface treatments and finishes to highlight the beauty of the material
The watch is powered by caliber 4400 AS that delivers 65 hours of power reserve
The watch is powered by caliber 4400 AS that delivers 65 hours of power reserve

As part of the celebration for the 1921’s 100th birthday, Vacheron has also launched a white gold version of the watch in unlimited quantities. This model is offered in both sizes of the 1921: 40mm as well as 36.5mm in diameter. Increasingly, I find collectors re-embracing smaller-sized shaped watches and have found the 36.5mm version of the 1921 to be very well suited to my wrist. The overall feeling of the cooler material, complemented by the silver dial, is a sense of restrained elegance that I find very appealing and stylish.

Overseas Redux

On the subject of white gold, Vacheron Constantin has just taken what I consider to be possibly the most beautiful complicated integrated bracelet sports watch around — the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin Skeleton — and given it an incredibly cool new look with the use of a white gold case complemented by the perfect touches of blue and small nuances of gold on the dial. When I opened the press kit and saw this watch, I basically shouted, “Oh f***k, that is just epic!” And it is.

The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin Skeleton and the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin are powered by Calibre 1120
The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin Skeleton and the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin are powered by Calibre 1120

The skeleton dial gives the Overseas a more vibrant, technical and modern appearance. But flip the watch over and you can revel in the extraordinary hand-skeletonization of this movement, which includes 16 internal angles that can only be beveled by hand on just the rotor alone. I loved the rose gold version of this watch, which was launched last year, but appreciate the slightly more low key vibe of this new version. If I were asked to choose between the two, I would probably go with the white gold — well, at least till Vacheron comes up with a titanium version of this beauty. There are now a lot of integrated bracelet watches on the market, but to me, the bracelet on this Overseas is one of the most beautifully designed with its overlapping and recurring Maltese Cross motif, which allows you to see the amazing finish in terms of brushing and mirror polishing that Vacheron is capable of. Also cool is the fact that you can unclip the bracelet and fasten the blue rubber or calfskin strap by yourself, thanks to a quick release system integrated into the end pieces.

The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin Skeleton
The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin Skeleton
The extraordinary hand-skeletonization of Caliber 1120 in this watch includes hand bevelling of 16 internal angles on just the rotor alone.
The extraordinary hand-skeletonization of Caliber 1120 in this watch includes hand bevelling of 16 internal angles on just the rotor alone.
The Overseas watches offer a quick strap change system
The Overseas watches offer a quick strap change system

At the same time, the solid blue dial version of this watch, now also rendered in white gold, is also a stunner. According to Christian Selmoni, the brand’s heritage director, they spent a long time deciding on the shade of blue which, I have to say, is absolutely breathtaking. I love the fact that both of these watches are powered by the same caliber 1120, which is based on the Jaeger-LeCoultre-designed caliber 920 that appeared in the original Reference 222. And I am waiting with anticipation for the maison to relaunch this watch in its near-original form, in the same way Audemars Piguet did with its Reference 15202. We all know that the moment they do, they will have another staggering hit on their hands.

This year, the Overseas also comes in an automatic tourbillon version with a pink gold case that measures 10.39mm in thickness, which is actually really good for this kind of complication. In comparison, the lithe Perpetual Calendar measures 8.1mm in thickness.

Traditionnelle Split Second Chronograph – Collection Excellence Platine

Also new for this year is a Collection Excellence Platine split seconds chronograph from the Traditionnelle family. Beating inside this watch is the world’s thinnest automatic split seconds chronograph caliber VC 3500, which measures 5.2mm and superseded the Frédéric Piguet 1186 when it first appeared in the Harmony Ultra Thin Grande Complication Chronograph back in 2015.

The Traditionnelle Split Second Chronograph will only be made in 15 examples
The Traditionnelle Split Second Chronograph will only be made in 15 examples

The new Traditionnelle Split Seconds Chronograph is 42.5mm in diameter and 10.71mm in thickness. It benefits from the Collection Excellence Platine’s sandblasted dial features and oversized monopusher, with the split function activated by a second pusher recessed into the crown. One curious detail is the use of a 60-minute chronograph counter at three o’clock, which creates a nice sense of symmetry relative to the seconds counter at nine o’clock. As with the Harmony Ultra Thin Grande Complication, Vacheron only uses this movement in very small quantities of very special timepieces. Accordingly, the Traditionnelle Split Second Chronograph will only be made in 15 examples.

The use of a 60-minute chronograph counter at three o’clock creates a nice sense of symmetry relative to the seconds counter at nine o’clock.
The use of a 60-minute chronograph counter at three o’clock creates a nice sense of symmetry relative to the seconds counter at nine o’clock.
The Traditionnelle Split Second Chronograph is powered by the world’s thinnest automatic split seconds chronograph caliber VC 3500, which measures 5.2mm.
The Traditionnelle Split Second Chronograph is powered by the world’s thinnest automatic split seconds chronograph caliber VC 3500, which measures 5.2mm.

Métiers d’Art

In Vacheron Constantin’s Métiers d’Art family is a complication that consists of floating hour satellites that are read off a fixed minute track, in the same tradition as Audemars Piguet’s Star Wheel or any URWERK watch. Because this time indication is relatively small in the context of the dial, it gives Vacheron the opportunity to create extraordinary backdrops, demonstrating their ability in grand feu enamel miniature painting. For 2021, the maison has selected motifs inspired by the nautical charts created by legendary explorers Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias and Pedro Álvares Cabral. In an era where we have time projected at us from every conceivable device, these watches create a wonderful sense of tranquility in relation to the passing of time.

For 2021, Vacheron Constantin has selected motifs inspired by the nautical charts created by legendary explorers Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias and Pedro Álvares Cabra for its Métiers d’Art family
For 2021, Vacheron Constantin has selected motifs inspired by the nautical charts created by legendary explorers Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias and Pedro Álvares Cabra for its Métiers d’Art family

Les Cabinotiers

Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers is a kind of ultra high concept special-orders department that enables collectors to create one-of-a-kind masterpieces limited only by their imagination. At the same time, Les Cabinotiers also creates exceptionally unique one-of-a-kind pieces that are imagined within the maison. One example of this is a ravishing Minute Repeater Tourbillon Skychart watch with a massive gold dial that features an incredible hand-guilloché lion and set with nine diamonds to represent the Leo constellation. The entire dial is then treated blue, which complements the 84 baguette sapphires set in the bezel and case. At the back of the watch, you have a sidereal time sky chart.

Known for its unique one-of-a-kind creations, Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers has created a Minute Repeater Tourbillon Skychart watch with a massive gold dial featuring a hand-guilloché lion to represent the Leo constellation.
Known for its unique one-of-a-kind creations, Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers has created a Minute Repeater Tourbillon Skychart watch with a massive gold dial featuring a hand-guilloché lion to represent the Leo constellation.
Known for its unique one-of-a-kind creations, Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers has created a Minute Repeater Tourbillon Skychart watch with a massive gold dial featuring a hand-guilloché lion to represent the Leo constellation.

The second Les Cabinotiers watch launched this year is the Armillary Tourbillon Perpetual Calendar Planetaria. The dual-axis Armillary Tourbillon comes from the Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260, a 57-complication Les Cabinotiers masterpiece. You can only order this tourbillon through the Les Cabinotiers program. I love its integration here with a perpetual calendar and two miniature globes simultaneously representing Earth from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres as it rotates on its own axis.

Vacheron Constantin rounds out their preliminary offer this year with two diamond-set Égérie Self-Winding watches, each festooned with 574 round-cut diamonds on the dial and executed in diamond-paved white and rose gold cases, respectively.

The self-winding Égérie watches are adorned with 574 round-cut diamonds
The self-winding Égérie watches are adorned with 574 round-cut diamonds

Tech Specs

Historiques American 1921 – Collection Excellence Platine

Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber 4400 AS; 65-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Case: 40mm x 40mm; 950 platinum; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Dark blue alligator leather stitched with platinum and silk
Availability: Limited edition of 100

Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin Skeleton

Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber 1120; 40-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, perpetual calendar, moon phases
Case: 41.5mm; white gold; water resistant to 500m
Strap: White gold bracelet with easy-fit system; additional straps in blue rubber and blue calf leather

Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin

Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber 1120; 40-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, perpetual calendar, moon phases
Case: 41.5mm; white gold; water resistant to 500m
Strap: White gold bracelet with easy-fit system; additional straps in blue rubber and blue calf leather

Overseas Tourbillon

Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber 2160; 80-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, tourbillon
Case: 42.5mm; 5N pink gold; water resistant to 500m
Strap: 5N pink gold bracelet with easy-fit system; additional straps in blue rubber and blue calf leather

Traditionnelle Split Second Chronograph – Collection Excellence Platine

Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber 3500; 51-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds; split-seconds chronograph
Case: 42.5mm; 950 platinum; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Dark blue alligator leather stitched with platinum and silk
Availability: Limited edition of 15

Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Explorers

Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber 1120; 40-hour power reserve
Functions: Satellite hours, minutes
Case: 41mm; pink gold; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Blue alligator leather
Availability: Limited edition of 10 pieces per design

Minute Repeater Tourbillon Skychart – Leo Constellation Jewellery

Movement: Manual-winding mechanical caliber 2755TMRCC; 58-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, tourbillon, minute repeater, sky chart
Case: 45mm; white gold set with 84 baguette-cut sapphires
Strap: Dark blue alligator leather with white gold buckle set with sapphires
Availability: Pièce unique

Égérie Self-Winding

Movement: Self-winding mechanical caliber 1088; 40-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Case: 35mm; diamond-paved white or rose gold with 303 round-cut diamonds; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Blue or warm gray satin with calf lining and diamond-set ardillon buckle in white or rose gold; additional alligator leather strap with calf lining and diamond-set ardillon buckle in white or rose gold

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