HAPPY BIRTHDAY Vacheron Constantin! I invite you to discover the seven limited timepieces created for this occasion. Click on “read more” to get the story…
The first seven references in the Vacheron Constantin Harmony collection, presented this year in a limited anniversary edition, are dedicated to chronograph and dual-time functions through four new calibres entirely designed and developed in-house, along with an evolved version of an existing chronograph movement. These series are preceding the launch of the full mainstream collection in 2016.
I asked Vacheron Constantin where the cushion-shaped case comes from.
… The Harmony collection intended to host innovative in-house developments displays a resolutely modern design, while the generous lines of its cushion-shaped case lend themselves to accommodating medium complication and grande complication calibres. Once again demonstrating the dual nature of its horological expertise, distinguished by the art of shapes dedicated to time measurement, Vacheron Constantin has devised an innovative construction of the cushion shape that has been part of its range for almost a century. A curved case middle, a square bezel and a round watch glass meet and mingle in an elegant reinterpretation of the monopusher chronograph with pulsometric scale presented by the Manufacture in 1928. While the inspiration derived from the original model is immediately perceptible, each detail has been infinitely rethought, right the way through to the specific ways that light reflects off the case, in order to offer a unique and unprecedented shape, combined with optimal comfort. In the same way, each element of the dial and hands inspired by the original watch face has been reinvented to guarantee perfect readability of the functions …
New in-house calibres to discover!
Four new chronographs…
Vacheron Constantin celebrates the chronograph that has enjoyed a key place among its creations since 1917.
Four first models in this new collection embody the expertise of the Manufacture in the measurement of short times: the world’s thinnest monopusher split-second chronograph, with its self-winding Calibre 3500 measuring just 5.20 mm thick; the monopusher tourbillon chronograph, driven by manual-winding Calibre 3200; the monopusher pulsimeter chronograph, with manual-winding Calibre 3300, a variation directly inspired by the 1928 model and finally a double-pusher ladies’ chronograph powered by manual-winding Calibre 1142. Stemming from seven years of research and development, the three new monopusher chronographs presented in the Harmony collection are driven by calibres entirely developed and produced within Vacheron Constantin. While the architecture of these movements reflects the traditional aesthetic of Haute Horlogerie chronographs and their classic column-wheel construction, the design of these new calibres enjoys the best of modern manufacturing processes providing a wealth of advancements in terms of materials, precision, functionality, aesthetics and user friendliness.
With the 3500, 3200, 3300 and 1142 calibres, Vacheron Constantin pays tribute to the chronograph – a complication that has been a key part of its watchmaking heritage for a century already, since it was back in 1852 that Vacheron Constantin created its first pocket watches with an independent seconds hands on “medical chronographs” featuring a dedicated graduated scale on the dial. In 1873, the Manufacture created its first pocket chronograph, and in 1917, it miniaturised it to wristwatch size for the first time. These first models reflected the specific requirements of watch mechanisms capable of measuring short times with extreme precision. Thus, from an early phase in its history, the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture developed expertise in the development of highly technical complications and timepieces capable of performing scrupulously accurate time measurements, resistant to extreme conditions or intended for scientific observations at sea or in the air. These capabilities are notably apparent in the number of orders for antimagnetic chronograph watches or chronometers that were met between 1880 and 1910. Such requests stemmed from doctors, military observatories, engineers or navies. Vacheron Constantin’s horological science, as well at its art of “sculpting time”, have been gradually honed and extended throughout its history, in order to meet highly demanding specific needs is admirably embodied in the Harmony collection.
One more new in-house calibre …
Reflecting the same approach of combining tradition with state-of-the-art technologies, the development of self-winding Calibre 2640 DT – which also began in 2008 – delivers a new addition to this innovative range of in-house horological complications by providing a dual-time display. Two elegant masculine models crafted in white or pink gold, as well as a diamond-set white gold feminine version, are equipped with this useful complication featuring an elaborate mechanism that enables easy adjustment of all functions via the crown.
Keeping with the finest watchmaking traditions…
Like all Vacheron Constantin creations, these new calibres are adorned with remarkable finishing entirely performed by brilliantly skilled artisans. Mirror polishing, bevelling, circular graining and Côtes de Genève are merely the most notable examples of the countless finishes patiently applied to components that often remain hidden from sight. Entirely hand-crafted by specialised artisans, the decoration of all parts, including those invisible to the naked eye, requires not only thorough training, but also great dexterity and intent concentration. Stamped with the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva (Poinçon de Genève), they meet the numerous demanding criteria of this independent and sovereign label that is a guarantee of origin, of precision, of durability and of watchmaking expertise.
Vacheron Constantin masters more than a dozen different types of finishing.
Some components of all watches are hand-engraved with an original décor forming delicate scrolling patterns. Specially created by the brand designers to distinguish the exclusive series dedicated to the 260th anniversary of the Manufacture, this original motif also known as “fleurisanne engraving” is inspired by the arabesques that adorned the world’s oldest pocket watch belonging to the Maison and signed by Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755.
Discover the new Vacheron Constantin Harmony Collection on five pages…
Page 1: Harmony Ultra-Thin Chronograph – Calibre 3500
Page 2: Harmony Chronograph Tourbillon – Calibre 3200
Page 3: Harmony Chronograph – Calibre 3300
Page 4: Harmony Chronograph Small Model – Calibre 1142
Page 5: Harmony Dual Time – Calibre 2460DT
Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Chronograph – Calibre 3500
The development work on Calibre 3500 began in 2008. The flagship model of the new collection, presented in a limited and numbered 10-piece edition, the new Harmony Ultra-Thin Chronograph by Vacheron Constantin immediately makes its mark in the field of ultra-thin horology by setting a new world record with its self-winding movement measuring just 5.20 mm thick and its 8.40 mm cushion-shaped case (42mm x 52 mm, 8.4 mm thick). It took prodigious feats of miniaturization to develop and ensure the faultless, high-precision operation of this elaborate construction within such a small space. It also required the skills of the most experienced watchmakers in the Manufacture to assemble and adjust to perfection the 459 parts of the new self-winding Vacheron Constantin Calibre 3500 – some of which, such as the tiny springs, measure just 3/100th of a millimeter. For the first time in the range of Manufacture Vacheron Constantin calibres, this self-winding movement with its 51-hour power reserve is equipped with a remarkable peripheral oscillating weight. Mounted on ball bearings, this novel construction provides a perfectly clear view of Calibre 3500, entirely hand-decorated in keeping with the noblest watchmaking traditions. This peripheral structure also serves to preserve the exceptional slimness of the world’s thinnest self-winding split- seconds chronograph movement.
Equipped with a split-seconds function serving to time phenomena starting at the same time but of different durations, the new Harmony Ultra-Thin Chronograph by Vacheron Constantin is the slimmest in its category in terms of both its movement and its case. The first self-winding split-seconds Vacheron Constantin chronograph to bear the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, its new in-house calibre pays tribute to the aesthetic of the chronographs made by the brand in the 1920s, by reinterpreting the rounded shape and interior angle bevelling of the bridges – that can only be done by hand – along with gold bushing and drop-shaped jewel surrounds.
This calibre benefits from the numerous advanced features designed by the Manufacture’s development team, including the so-called ‘friction’ technique for the lateral coupling clutch, which serves to reduce a potential jerk of the hand when the chronograph starts running. Another particularly notable breakthrough is the blocking of the rotor when the barrel is sufficiently wound, thereby avoiding excessive tension in the winding spring. The creation of conical wheels improves the meshing of the wheels, thus giving the wearer the sensation of softer, gentler winding.
Moreover, the micro-technologies used for cutting the wheels have made it possible to create extremely close-set teeth to improve the engagement of the gear trains. The creation of an ultra-thin non-spherical differential has contributed to maintaining the power-reserve indication, without influencing the movement’s thickness. Finally, the development of a ‘dragging’ chronograph minutes indication reduces the loss in amplitude and thus improves precision.
Housed in a precious cushion-shaped case made of 950 platinum, Calibre 3500 deserved an exterior to match its excellence. The ‘shape-in-a-shape’ case combining a curved case middle, a square and cambered bezel and a round crystal creates a sensation of slenderness, while demonstrating an entirely unique and impressive character. The hours, minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock and power reserve are clearly displayed on a luminous opaline silver-toned dial framed by a deep red tachometric scale. The blue-painted Arabic numerals beautifully match the blued chronograph hands, while elegant leaf-type hands punctuate the hours and minutes. Inaugurating the new collection in an outstandingly elegant manner, the Harmony Ultra-Thin Chronograph by Vacheron Constantin expresses the full degree of mastery achieved by the Geneva Manufacture in the art of shapes dedicated to serving horological science successfully blending tradition with modernity.