Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Openworked: As you may already know we are advocates of beautifully designed and finished timepieces and it’s even better when they are complicated. But this is no ordinary perpetual calendar from the watch house that is Vacheron Constantin. No, this is a Openworked perpetual calendar that is a beautifully sculpted piece of art but keeps within the realms of wearable. At the end of last year we paid a visit to the Vacheron Boutique on London’s Bond Street, while there we also looked at a few other VC’s– such as the 2253 we featured here and the 4178 from Vacheron’ brilliant initiative. I remember reading Paul Boutros’s assessment of this timepiece some time ago and ever since I wanted to see it in the metal. It is not often that one gets to hold a timepiece this complicated and so downright stunning. Of course Vacheron are no strangers to creating such artistic timepieces that have been so intricately skeletonised, looking through their current range will illustrate just how adept they truly are.
Creating a piece of art like this is no easy feat and requires some serious precision and deft of hand craftsmanship, it is a delicate art. There are a lot of processes involved in skeletonising a movement but it is said that components that make up these timepieces lose up to half of their initial volume just during the machine drilling process. Once done, highly skilled craftsmen take over and the really intricate work begins where circular graining and beveling is painstakingly done by hand, and each component that makes up a timepiece such as this is engraved.
Vacheron Constantin have been skeletonising timepieces for many years, more precisely pocket watches but their first ever skeletonised wristwatch was created in 1964 and though this lacked the eye-catching detail seen today, it laid the foundation of what was to come.
Like a large percentage of Vacheron’s current range each timepiece has its predecessor and this perpetual calendar openworked is no different. Before this model was the reference 43032 first introduced in the 1984, which as you can see here, bears a striking resemblance to this current model we are looking at today.
The Vacheron Perpetual Calendar Openworked was introduced in 2007 as part of the Patrimony Traditionnelle collection, which we now know as the Traditionnelle range. Available in either 18-carat rose gold or platinum, the modest 39mm case size illustrates Vacheron’s historical haute horlogerie knowhow in making a timepiece that while appears to have a chaotic dial it is still legible and has a simple air about it.
The 2007 iteration of the Perpetual Calendar Openworked ref. 43172 is a direct replacement for the slightly smaller 36mm ref. 43032. The Openworked dial of the ref 43172 is constructed in such a way that it provides a jaw dropping view of the skeletonized movement and perfect legibility of the perpetual calendar indications and time. Vacheron have achieved this look by using a transparent sapphire dial that is enhanced by a silvered ring integrating the hour markers, minute-track and of course the Vacheron Constantin Maltese Cross at 12 o’clock. The perpetual calendar indicators have been smartly transferred to the dial, which inherently enlarges their size and consequently aids legibility. The moon phase also makes use of transparency, with discs that can be made out through the frosted glass. Gliding over the top of this poetic symphony are gold Dauphine hands that feature two contrasting finishes: one polished and the other brushed.
The Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Openworked ref. 43172, makes use of the infamous cailbre 1120QPSQ movement (also known as the caliber 920) which has been stamped with the prestigious Poinçon de Genève and is distinguished by its Art nouveau motif beautifully finished by hand. It is said that Vacheron’s master engravers were inspired by the natural motifs and elegant shapes of the Eiffel Tower. This decoration displays the complexity and sophistication of the engraving executed by Vacheron’s in-house master engravers. The rotor of the calibre 1120 has also been lovingly engraved and features a 21-carat gold oscillating weight, which sits atop of four ruby rollers and is attached via a beryllium ring.
The case is a somewhat classical affair, it has a very clean and minimalistic look – akin to its more simplistic predecessors of the 40s and 50s. The 39mm x 8.82mm case features beautiful Art deco downturned lugs which incorporate a little step to match the case similarly. The bezel, case band and lugs are mirror polished and integrated at either side of the Vacheron signed crown and mirrored on the opposite side are recessed pushers to adjust the calendar and moon phase. Turning the case over you’ll notice the brushed screw down case back that has a beautiful coin edge finish.
The Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Openworked, for me, is a much understated timepiece. I mentioned in the first paragraph about reading Paul’s assessment on this timepiece and probably the most poignant statement that he made was that the Traditionnelle ref. 43172 is the finest, simple Perpetual Calendar money can buy. After getting some hands-on time with this exquisite timepiece that statement couldn’t be truer. It is simply an elegant piece of art that displays the time, day, date and month with a moon phase. It wears so well on the wrist but of course has some notable heft, just as a reminder that you are in fact wearing a well-crafted timepiece from one of the finest and oldest watch manufacturers in the world! The Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Openworked is available in two different metals: pink-gold and platinum and they are priced at £111,750, and £124,250 respectively. There is no denying that the Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Openworked doesn’t come cheap but when you look at the attention to detail and second to none level of finishing, there aren’t many other brands that could offer such a timepiece for this price.
For more information on the Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Openworked ref. 43172, visit the Vacheron Constantin website.
Notice: If you are intrigued in getting up close with the Traditionnelle Perpetual Calendar Openworked ref. 43172, as luck would have it, it will be on display at the V&A Museum for the “What is Luxury?” exhibition from the 25th April – 27th September 2015. You can find more information here