Not very many watches can be regarded as both surprising and masterpieces yet the new Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Tourbillon Chronograph is one such piece. Could this be the most remarkable watch made by Vacheron Constantin in recent memory?
As one of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Swiss watch brands, Vacheron Constantin has a reputation for impressing us. Whether you look at the stunningly elegant FiftySix or the recently reinvigorated Overseas collection, you can rely upon being impressed. However, the true mark of a top-tier brand is being able to pull off a stunning but also functional range-topping watch. With the new Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Tourbillon Chronograph, this has been comprehensively achieved.
Now, the movement at the heart of this stunning new model isn’t new. The in-house cal. 3200 has previously been seen in the wonderful Harmony Tourbillon Chronograph. As such, the lovely and genuinely unique arrangement with the power reserve indicator at 6 o’clock, the chronograph minute counter at 3 o’clock and the exquisite tourbillon at 12 is carried over from this model. For me, though, this arrangement was never quite at home in the squared case of the aforementioned watch. Here, though, it looks stunning.
The case of the Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Tourbillon Chronograph is large at 42.5mm in 18K pink gold whilst the thickness is equally sizeable at 11.7mm. However, with stunningly tiered and slender lugs, the watch has real elegance. To add to this, the case sides are divided and layered to create a much more complex and luxurious appearance than you might at first expect from the dimensions. The overall appearance is at once simple and quintessentially Vacheron Constantin. Can you tell that I like it?
The dial follows a similar attention to maintaining the brand’s aesthetic with a simple and delicate silvered base and matching pink gold hands and applied markers. However, as is so often the case with the work of Vacheron Constantin’s work, the details really do the talking.
The dial base, for instance, is raised from the subdials to the main dial and once again up to the level of the second track and tachymeter. To add to the subtle contrast, the bands of the dial alternate in tone whilst the subdials are given a stunningly-executed concentric grain. A details which I particularly appreciate is the way the hands have been matted on one side and given a superb mirror-polish on the other. This gives just a bit more contrast to a watch which could otherwise have been predictable. The only fault which I find with this dial arrangement is the break in the chronograph track at 12 o’clock which would have seemed so easily rectifiable with a change in the tachymetre placement.
Whilst I presented the movement as something of a hand-me-down, the design and execution of this heart of the Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Tourbillon Chronograph are spectacular. Before I lose myself in the view through the caseback, this is a movement chosen as a particular masterpiece for the 260th anniversary of Vacheron Constantin. Where specifications are concerned, it runs at a rather traditional 18,000 vph whilst its power reserve is a perfectly acceptable 65 hours. Most important, though, are the tourbillon and monopusher chronograph.
The former is a stunning addition at 12 o’clock and is given an equally beautiful cage in the form of Vacheron’s logo, the Maltese cross. Another touch which is a custom of a Vacheron tourbillon is the beam which has been rounded and polished in by hand in a series of operations requiring days of work. The chronograph, by contrast, is far less overt in its complication. However, from the back you can really appreciate the complexity of the cal. 3200. From the 1930s, we have the stunning upper bridges and, amidst a sea of impeccable graining, Geneva striping and bevels of the finest quality a Maltese cross is seen on top of the column wheel.
It comes as no surprise that this watch sits at the top-echelon of watchmaking but what is more important is that this is also a watch which still works as just that: a watch. Often, high horology brands shoehorn a stunning and impressive movement into an existing watch but fail to consider what the overall product will be like to own. With the Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Tourbillon Chronograph, on the other hands, you get the clear impression that care has been taken to incorporate a heavy-hitting movement into a beautiful and clever package. The dial incorporates the skeletonised chronograph wonderfully yet legibility is maintained.
- Dimensions: 42.5mm x 11.7mm
- Material: 18K Pink Gold
- Crystal: Domed Sapphire Crystal
- Display: Silvered opaline Dial / Pink gold applied markers & hands / Skeletonised tourbillon at 12 o’clock / 45-minute counter at 3 o’clock / Power reserve indicator at 6 o’clock / Tachymetre
- Water Resistance: 30m / 100ft / 3 ATM
- Movement: in-house cal. 3200: Manually wound / Time, power reserve, tourbillon & chronograph / Monopusher chronograph with column wheel and lateral clutch / 65-hour power reserve / 2.5Hz, 18,000vph, 5 ticks-per-second / 39 jewels and 292 components