Often likened to mechanical computers, perpetual-calendar mechanisms have for more than a century now ranked among the most challenging horological complications in existence, the very exclusive preserve of an élite of watch houses.
The existence of such a movement in the Malte collection owes nothing to chance. Expressly designed by Vacheron Constantin’s master watchmakers as a 21st century embodiment of its technological and aesthetic heritage, it provides this product family with a particularly eloquent example of horological virtuosity and elegance.
Its design naturally reflects the Malte collection’s overall styling approach yet includes a few additional refinements – as might be expected from Geneva’s oldest watch manufacturer, in uninterrupted activity since its foundation in 1755.
The Retrograding Perpetual Calendar watch’s generous case size, 39 mm across, comes in a choice of 5N pink 18K gold or 950 platinum. It naturally includes the Malte collection’s classic signature features – broad, fan-like bracelet lugs and the stylized “Maltese cross” on the crown along with swordblade-shaped watch hands.
It is also fitted with an “officer’s case back”, i.e. with the underside of the case hinged to open like a lid and reveal a clear sapphire lens through which to admire the selfwinding movement in action. A monogram, family crest, symbol or other inscription can thus be discreetly engraved on the backplate’s inner face…
Embodying both the style and the spirit of their time, the self-assured personality and crisp, decisive design of Malte timepieces form a convincing and successful demonstration of contemporary craftsmanship at its finest.
Compact in construction – 11 1/2-line diameter and 5.05 mm thick – Vacheron Constantin’s 1126 QPR selfwinding caliber displays a full range of calendar indications: the day of the week, the date and the month along with the current year and its place in the four-year leap-year sequence, plus the time of day in hours and minutes.
True to its name, the perpetual calendar automatically adjusts for months of 28, 29, 30 and 31 days – in other words marking leap years on its own. It requires only one manual adjustment every century, the next one scheduled for the year 2100.
This exceptional movement features an unusual “retrograding” indication of the date. Designed and built in the company’s own workshops, this unusual mechanism testifies to the inventiveness and ingenuity of Vacheron Constantin’s watchmakers.
Covering the sectoral array of a full month’s dates, an arrowhead pointer designed for to-and-fro motion “retrojumps” back to its starting point at the end of every month and immediately resumes its travel. Days of the week and months are shown on a pair of subdials, the current year in a dial window at 6 o’clock, another, smaller window at 3 o’clock indicating its position in the quadrennial leap-year cycle and marking the leap year by the letter “B” rather than by a number.
Displaying their usual tasteful yet practical mastery of dial design, Vacheron Constantin stylists have engine-turned the dial to give it a dense, regular texture that absorbs rather than reflects light, improving the instant legibility of the time read off 18K gold hour markers and Roman numerals by a pair of swordblade-shaped hands. For their part, the perpetual calendar’s indications are inscribed in matt black figures, letters and symbols on a smooth metal background and clearly indicated by a hand or pointer.
A square-scale pattern alligator mississipiensis leather strap fitted with a standard clasp in platinum or in gold, completes this remarkable timepiece. The Malte collection’s Retrograding Perpetual Calendar watch comes in a fine wood presentation case containing a stylus with which to action the watch’s two correctors, for the days and for the months respectively, flush with the case frame.
Model: Vacheron Constantin Malte Retrograding Perpetual Calendar
Reference: 47031/000P-8956 and 47031/000R-8955
- Caliber number: 1126 QPR
- Movement thickness: 5.05 mm
- Movement diameter: 11 1/2 ’’’, i.e. 26 mm (1 line = 2.255 mm)
- Jewelling: 36
- Power reserve: 40 hours
- Rate frequency: 28, 800 vibrations per hour (v.p.h.)
- Dial indications: Hours and minutes; day, date, month,years including leap-year sequence
- Dial: Engine-turned
- Case: 950 platinum and 18K pink 5N gold
- Water resistance to 30 meters (approx. 100 feet)
- Strap: Padded and hand-stitched alligator mississipiensis leather
- Clasp: Standard model in 950 platinum or 18K pink gold