The Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2755” belongs to the super-complication category as a worthy heir of Vacheron Constantin’s 250th anniversary masterpiece and as the ultimate demonstration of its unequalled skills. In fact, this incomparable timepiece harbours three of the most sophisticated complications in the universe of high-class watchmaking: the tourbillon, the perpetual calendar and the minute-repeater. Such a revelation of the quintessence of the watchmaker’s art provides the most accomplished expression of that art and its three score of associated crafts that are in daily practice at Vacheron Constantin.
As the descendant of the Tour de l’Ile watch, the exceptional and much noticed flagship watch of the brand’s 250th anniversary in 2005, the Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2755”, took three years of development and thousands of hours of work to get right. It is the most complicated model in Vacheron Constantin’s current catalogue. Its movement consists of no fewer than 602 parts fitted into a diameter of 33.30 mm only 7.90 mm high. This feat of true prowess also delivers more than 55 hours of running time, indicated through the sapphire-crystal caseback.
Among its three complications, the minute-repeater is undoubtedly the one handled in the most original way, as if yet another demonstration that Vacheron Constantin remains one of the world’s most inventive manufacturers were strictly necessary. Caught between the desire to extend the frontiers of technical possibility and concern over the practical use of this multi-complication timepiece, Vacheron Constantin’s engineers and watchmakers came up with an original device to regulate the repeater’s chiming rate: a centripetal governor.
The role of this device is to steady the rate at which the hammers strike the gongs of a chiming watch to repeat the hours, quarters and minutes in a series of notes. Without a regulator, the spring-driven strike would come out in a rush of indiscernible notes.
The device developed by Vacheron Constantin goes further than the more traditional strike regulator – a noisy recoil escapement with a lever that is subject to wear.
During the development of the movement for the Tour de l’Ile anniversary watch of 2005, Vacheron Constantin’s engineers and watchmak-ers sought to replace the strike’s escapement governor with a totally silent system that would reduce wear. A centrifugal governor existed, essentially a flywheel with a pair of weights that moved away from the centre as it spun to slow the wheel by increasing its inertia. Nevertheless, true to the tradition of a brand whose motto recalls that it is always possible to do better, Vacheron Constantin’s watchmakers preferred to steer their choice towards a centripetal strike governor.
This device has two weights shaped so as to act as a brake on the governor’s rotating shaft, thus evening-out the energy released by the repeater’s spring. To achieve this, it uses the opposite centrifugal and centripetal forces. When the governor spins, the centrifugal force pivots one end of the weights outwards so that the other end acts as a brake on the central shaft to bring the rotation and the strike to a steady rate. This original and undoubtedly unique device is quite silent. The enthusiast can satisfy his curiosity while marvelling at the spinning governor through the sapphire-crystal caseback.
In addition to its minute-repeater, the Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2755” features a tourbillon, which, apart from its function of equal-izing the effects of gravity on different positions of the balance, offers the visual attraction of an exposed mechanism that allows the beating heart of the watch to be observed. The perpetual calendar, which holds the future in its mechanical memory, tracks the meanderings of the Gregorian calendar without intervention apart from resetting the date every 400 years.
Vacheron Constantin not only entirely developed the Calibre 2755; it was also manufactured in its workshops, apart from standard parts. Each component is made with a margin so that the specialists who assemble and adjust them can remove material to introduce the right amount of shake. This procedure, which is in perfect keeping with the tenets governing the design and manufacture of the great horological complications, ensures the best possible performance and makes each movement unique. Once assembled, the Calibre 2755 beats at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations an hour and has a power reserve of about 55 hours. The level of its finish can be appreciated in the painstakingly chamfered edges of the bridge plates adorned with Côtes de Genève, the circular graining on the baseplate and the rounding-off of the tourbillon bridge. The high-status Hallmark of Geneva on the movement denotes its compliance with the twelve requirements of this independent and legally sanctioned label of workmanship, provenance, accuracy, durability and watchmaking proficiency.
This amazing calibre is fitted in a generously proportioned platinum case, 44 mm in diameter and designed to achieve the most remarkable quality of sound from the minute-repeater. The optimal tuning of the strike is made possible by the ingenious use of the blocks to which the chimes are attached. The rest of the exterior has also benefited from multiple refinements: dials available in silvered or slate finishes, and the folding clasp in 950 platinum with a half Maltese Cross. Noteworthy also is that the dial is shifted slightly off-centre to better display the tourbillon carriage.
Minute-repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar: bringing the three major complications together in a single timepiece remains a rare exercise in style and mastery. Its complexity severely limits the number of Patrimony Traditionnelle “Calibre 2755” platinum watches that can be produced.
Calibre 2755, developed and crafted by Vacheron Constantin
Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva
Energy: Mechanical, manual-winding
Movement thickness: 7.90 mm
Movement diameter: 33.30 mm
Jewels: 40 jewels
Frequency: 18,000 vibrations/hour
Power reserve: More than 55 hours
Hours, minutes, seconds on tourbillon
Power reserve on the caseback
Diameter: 44 mm
Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on one side
Open-worked back secured with screws, sapphire crystal
Silvered or dark grey opaline
Finely snailed counters with diamond-polished fillets
Black or white painted minute-track
Dark blue or black, hand-stitched alligator leather
Clasp: 950 platinum folding clasp; Polished half Maltese Cross
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.