Fine watchmaking has its quota of exemplary models that attract more than their share of collectors and fan the ardour of the true enthusiast. Only a few chronographs are worthy of belonging to this elite circle.
Such factors as the configuration of the movement, its performance, reliability and finish inspire the awe in which they are held. The Vacheron Constantin Chronograph Perpetual Calendar “Calibre 1141QP” indubitably belongs among these legendary movements.
This jewel of the watchmaker’s art that’s only 7.40 mm thick is of the mechanical kind and wound by hand. It drives a column-wheel chronograph with a pivoting clutch as well as a perpetual calendar with moon phases. This outstanding mechanism has set the pace of some of the most exalted wrist-chronographs in the history of watchmaking and is regarded by all experts as the most technically and stylistically accomplished of its kind because of its extraordinary complexity and incomparable architecture.
To give it due honour, Vacheron Constantin this year presents it in a case commensurate with its status: a version in 950 platinum of the Patrimony Traditionnelle model that took its place from the outset among the reference masterpieces of the Geneva-based manufacturer.
The exterior of this superlative watch is equal to the movement it protects. The characteristic case in 950 platinum of the Patrimony Traditionnelle models obeys the conventions of elegant restraint. Its ample 43 mm diameter ensures that all the indications on the dial are clearly visible.
The latter is available in an opaline silver finish with silvered subdials or in a velvety grey with snailed subdials in black rhodium. The varied hues recall the style of Vacheron Constantin’s former chronographs, and those who take an interest will recognize a particular affinity with the chronographs of the 1940s.
Vibrating 18,000 times an hour, the Calibre 1141QP can draw on a power reserve of some 48 hours. In addition to the hours and minutes with the small seconds on the left, it indicates the elapsed time with the central chronograph seconds and a 30-minute counter on the right.
In the perpetual calendar, the days, months and leap years are nicely arranged in apertures while the moon phases and dates hand are displayed at 6 o’clock.
The smiling or melancholy moons are engraved by hand on a plate of solid platinum with a black patina. Like all Vacheron Constantin movements, the Calibre 1141QP is distinguished by the detailed manual labour that goes into chamfering the bridge plates decorated in Côtes de Genève and by the circular graining of the baseplate, also done by hand.
These noteworthy finishes and the movement’s remarkable architecture can be appreciated through the sapphire-crystal caseback.
Model: Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar« Calibre 1141QP » in Platinum, References: 47292/000P-9510 and 47292/000P-9590
Energy: Mechanical, manual-winding
Movement thickness: 7.40 mm
Movement diameter: 27.00 mm
Jewels: 21 jewels
Frequency: 18,000 vibrations/hour
Power reserve: More than 45 hours
Small seconds at 9 o’clock
30-minute counter at 3 o’clock
Centre chronograph hand
Perpetual calendar and precision moon-phases at 6 o’clock
Diameter: 43 mm
Convex sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on the inside
Screwed-down exhibition back with transparent sapphire crystal
Water-resistance: 3 bar, equivalent to 30 metres
Silvered or dark grey opaline
Two finely snailed counter at 3 and 9 o’clock
Black or white painted minute-track
Black hand-stitched, saddle-finish, square-shape scales alligator leather
Clasp: 950 platinum folding-clasp; Polished half Maltese Cross
Vacheron Constantin 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.
Vacheron Constantin 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 by Vacheron Constantin
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.