For 2010, Vacheron Constantin presents the Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2253” watch in the Collection Excellence Platine. This model features a major astronomical complication in terms of technical application. Entirely constructed by Vacheron Constantin’s engineering department and developed over several thousands of hours, the new Calibre 2253 provides information derived from Earth’s orbit around the sun, notably a perpetual calendar, the equation of time and the times of sunrise and sunset. It has a tourbillon escapement as well.
To celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2005, Vacheron Constantin introduced the Saint-Gervais watch. Its Calibre 2250 tourbillon movement with a perpetual calendar had the then exceptional running time of 250 hours from the energy stored in four mainspring barrels. The experience gained in making the Calibre 2250 was applied to the development of the Calibre 2253. The new movement benefited from the latest techniques deployed by the manufacturer’s technicians, engineers and watchmakers.
Despite supporting extra mechanical complexity, the Calibre 2253 exhibits a breathtaking amount of power reserve – some 336 hours or 14 days of running time drawn from two pairs of coupled barrels. The power reserve is shown through the sapphire-crystal caseback.
The equation of time is probably the most fascinating complication in this outstanding model. Its purpose is to indicate the difference in minutes between the variable solar time shown by a sundial and the constant mean time of clocks and watches. For practical reasons, mankind has divided each year into 365 and a quarter days, each day into 24 hours, and the hours into 60 minutes each. However, because the Earth’s orbit is elliptical rather than circular, the time in relation to the sun varies daily. The noon zenith of the sun when it crosses the observer’s meridian seldom occurs at exactly 12 o’clock by his watch. In fact solar time and mean time coincide just four times a year – on April 15, June 14, September 1 and December 24. For the rest of the year, the difference between solar and mean time varies from minus 16 minutes to plus 16 minutes.
The oldest clock showing the equation of time was made by the mathematician Nikolaus Mercator in the 17th century. It enabled folk to covert the sun’s varying noon to the standard constant time shown on their watches. Since then, the rare instruments calculating the equation of time have been the work of extremely accomplished horologists.
Making this complication work does indeed call for particular skill. It depends on the equation cam, a waisted oval, shaped like a figure 8 and calculated according to the daily declination of the sun observed from a given spot. The cam rotates once a year while a hand following its contour indicates the equation of time at between 10 and 11 o’clock on the dial of the Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2253” timepiece of the Collection Excellence Platine.
This timepiece displays another function seldom found in watches – the times of sunrise and sunset throughout the year at a given locality. This tricky complication also relies on a cam, the outline of which is calculated according to the latitude of the locality. It demonstrates both the skill of the manufacture’s engineers and watchmakers and Vacheron Constantin’s attention to its clients, for they can choose the place of the sunrises and sunsets. To this extent it’s a custom-made complication where the dials are paired at 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock on the face.
The tourbillon carriage, as always in the shape of the brand emblem, a Maltese Cross, rotates once a minute at 6 o’clock as a small seconds indication. The indications of the perpetual calendar are symmetrically laid out with the days, the months and the dates at 9, 12 and 3 o’clock respectively. The leap-year indicator makes a circumspect appearance on the upper right.
The sophisticated finish of this watch is taken to the limits to match its complexity. As part of the Collection Excellence Platine this Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2253” unsurprisingly incorporates many elements in platinum, from its 43 mm case, water-resistant at a pressure of 3 bar or 30 meters, to its dial hallmarked “PT950”, its crown and its folding clasp in the shape of a halved Maltese Cross. There is one other most unusual, if not unique, horological feature: even the Dauphine hands that show the hours and minutes are fashioned in the same material – an incredible technical prowess. The decoration of the dial alternates silvered and frosted surfaces, with snailed chapters, circular-brushed subdials and diamond-polished filets. The applied hour markers and Maltese Cross are in white gold.
The Calibre 2253 movement also bears the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, which is an independent and legally sanctioned label of workmanship, origin, precision, resilience and competence. This seal of watchmaking perfection, among the oldest of professional labels, is reserved for a handful of Geneva manufacturers. It means that such decorative aspects of the movement as Côtes de Genève, circular graining, chamfering and straight graining of the steelwork are entirely done by hand.
The finish of the thin bridge that holds the tourbillon is an example among many. It consists of rounding off the top of the rectangular steel bar with a file to create a gleaming barrel-vault along its upper length. The camber follows the shape of the bridge from its jewelled centre to its winged extremities. The entire operation involves grinding and smoothing the surface with a variety of stones and abrasive pastes and then buffing it to a high polish. To meet Vacheron Constantin’s standards of finish, this job takes around 11 hours and is done entirely by hand, but it does signify a properly finished movement.
Such is the complexity and level of finish of this horological masterpiece, that it comprises no fewer than 457 parts in a movement only 9.60 mm thick. That explains why the production is limited to just 10 pieces.
Calibre 2253, developed and crafted by Vacheron Constantin, Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva
Energy: Mechanical, manual-winding
Movement thickness: 9.60 mm
Movement diameter: 32.00 mm
Jewels: 30 jewels
Frequency: 18,000 vibrations/hour
Power reserve: More than 300 hours (14 days) – 4 main springs, coupled two by two
Number of parts : 457 pieces
Hours, minutes, seconds on tourbillon
Equation of time, sunset and sunrise(Ephemeris to the localization chosen by the client)
Power reserve on the caseback
Diameter: 43 mm
Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on one side
Open-worked screwed-down back
Water-resistance:3 bar, equivalent to 30 metres
Sand-blasted finish, special “PT950” marking at 4.30;12 hour-markers and Maltese Cross in 18-carat white gold
Black painted minute-track
Dark blue alligator leather, hand-stitched with platinum thread
Clasp: 950 platinum folding clasp; Polished half Maltese Cross
Limited edition of 10 numbered pieces
Patrimony Traditionnelle Collection Excellence Platine Edition 2010
Platinum, at the top of the hierarchy of precious metals, denotes the highest prestige in fine watchmaking. Extremely rare, it can be used to protect only watch movements of the most elaborate complexity. Vacheron Constantin thus gives full honour to this most precious of metals by choosing it to encase the very complicated movements of three models introduced in 2010.
The Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2253” model in the Collection Excellence Platine is an outstanding timepiece and chief among the Grand Complication models presented by Vacheron Constantin at the SIHH 2010. In addition to the tourbillon escapement, it includes such astronomical complications as the perpetual calendar, the times of sunrise and sunset and the equation of time. Furthermore it has an exceptional running time of 14 days. Only 10 numbered pieces will be produced in this limited edition.
The Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2755” watch in platinum concentrates the major complications in which Vacheron Constantin excels both technically and stylistically. It combines the tourbillon and the perpetual calendar with a minute-repeater that features an original and completely silent mechanism to pace the strike.
The third model, also in platinum, is the Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar “Calibre 1141QP”, which embodies the Vacheron Constantin convention in styling. It brings together a chronograph and a perpetual calendar driven by a highly regarded hand-wound movement. The Calibre 1141 is an exceptional design that has been used in some of the best chronographs. Experts consider it a model of highly complex chronograph construction.
Patrimony Traditionnelle Collection
In the world of Vacheron Constantin, the Patrimony collection best expresses the manufacturing company’s genetic makeup – the inher-itance of skills painstakingly acquired since its inception. Their round cases span the past and the future as an eternal design of natural elegance that needs no adornment, for the simple beauty of time-honored workmanship is sufficient to denote Swiss watchmaking of the highest order.
The Patrimony Traditionnelle collection remains true to the artistry apparent in some of Vacheron Constantin’s finest historical work. Beyond the studied restraint of the styling, the collection symbolizes certain values shared by those who treasure fine horology. Those who know something about watches will appreciate the finer points of the company’s “special reserve” watchmaking: the thin bezel, the knurled surround of the screw-held caseback with its sapphire-crystal window, the perfectly ground trapezoid marking each hour – with a pair for the 6 and the 12 – and the faceted Dauphine hands on silvery dials of varied hues. The case, with welded lugs, has a stepped profile bisected by a cleanly drawn caseband. The artistic heritage of the Patrimony Traditionnelle collection, expressed in today’s terms, serves as a reminder that tradition and modernity coexist as a matter of course at Vacheron Constantin.
Such established artistic parameters can be readily applied across the range of watches in the Patrimony Traditionnelle collection, from a self-winding wristwatch confined to the hours, minutes and seconds, to a minute-repeating tourbillon watch with a perpetual calendar. Extending from straightforward to extremely involved mechanisms, the collection proclaims Vacheron Constantin’s spirit of invention and pays tribute to two-and-a-half centuries of history.
The Collection Excellence Platine
Platinum’s rarity, purity and incorruptibility qualify it as supreme among symbols of excellence. Vacheron Constantin started working with platinum in the early 19th century to offer its clients pieces in the most valuable of all metals.
While 18-carat gold contains 75% of the pure metal, platinum is 95% pure. Platinum is also 30 times scarcer than gold and there are very few deposits. Its hardness and density make it more resistant than any other metal and thus the best choice for an everlasting object. A scratch in platinum displaces rather than removes material, avoiding the loss through wear and tear of a softer metal. Platinum’s ability to retain its full weight and value has made it popular as a token of eternity. Platinum has other remarkable features: it is malleable and very ductile. A gram of the metal can be drawn into a thread almost two kilometers long.
To herald the start of another quarter millennium in 2006, the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin, in tribute to the most extraordinary and aristocratic of precious metals, decided that all platinum watches would henceforth be initially produced in limited editions of never more than 150 pieces. Their availability would be reserved for collectors and connoisseurs. The Collection Excellence Platine was thus born. In addition to a platinum caseband, each watch in the collection has a rare watchmaking feature that distinguishes it from other watches in this metal. These might include a clasp, a winding crown or hands in platinum, as well as a brushed platinum dial, discreetly hallmarked “PT950”. Attention to detail is taken to the extreme of using platinum thread entwined with silk to sew the dark blue alligator straps fitted to these watches.
Long reserved for royalty, platinum conveys unrivalled distinction, attracting both arbiters of taste and well-informed collectors. Such owners of Vacheron Constantin timepieces in platinum know that they belong to a most exclusive club.