‘Patrimony’ - the name says it all in this new collection by Vacheron Constantin. Along with the Malte and the Quai de l'Ile collections, Patrimony is one of “the pillars of the Geneva manufacture” as they like to say at 10 chemin du Tourbillon, the address of the very modern manufacturing facilities of the oldest continuously operating Swiss watchmaker that was founded in 1755.
Patrimony Traditionnelle 38mm
Patrimony evokes the quintessence of timekeeping values that Vacheron Constantin has acquired over the decades. Round, pure, classic, extra-thin, in a word, timeless. From the simplest to the most complicated, Patrimony remains, above all, essentially and fundamentally a pure watchmaking product.
Drawing on the long history of Vacheron Constantin, Patrimony takes inspiration from the design codes defined during the brand’s more than 250 years of existence. More precisely, it draws on the brand’s ‘patrimony’, we might say, reinterpreting this tradition and bringing it into the modern day.
Patrimony Traditionnelle 38mm
A tree with two branches
The two branches of the round watches collection, the Patrimony Traditionnelle and the Patrimony Contemporaine, interpret this same classicism in slightly different ways.
The Patrimony Contemporaine line, inspired by the company’s extra-thin historical models, features curved lines, domed dials, circular-graining decoration on the gears, trapezoidal indexes and bÂton hands, giving the timepieces an elegant purity and refinement that makes them very contemporary.
The Patrimony Traditionnelle line draws inspi-ration from the same patrimonial sources but takes on a more historic appearance with its stepped case and horns, refined bezel, delicate knurling that encircles the sapphire caseback, its silvered dials and its dauphine hands.
Last year, this collection welcomed its most complicated watch, the Patrimony Traditionnelle Calibre 2755, a perpetual calendar with tourbillon minute repeater, that is a true demonstration of the savoir-faire of Vacheron Constantin’s art of timekeeping. Despite its complexity, this piece features a dial with exceptional readability, emblematic of the design approach of the Patrimony collections. With its over-sized counters for the date, day and month, as well as its subtly decentralized hands that allow space for the tourbillon to be clearly seen, this watch incarnates in ‘flesh and bone’, or gold and metal, the best of the classic style.
Intended to become a “patiently constructed reference line”, the Patrimony Traditionnelle collection added several new pieces this year: a new exclusive manual-winding movement, the Calibre 4400, which promises to become a reference especially in terms of reliability and longevity; a perpetual calendar chronograph and a superb chronograph, both equipped with the legendary Calibre 1141; skeleton (openworked) models and jewellery versions.
The 38mm in-house Calibre 4400 with the PoinÇon de GenÈve
At the origin of this new Calibre 4400 was the brand’s determination to develop a totally in-house calibre that would fit with today's larger diameters cases (in the true horological spirit) and serve as a base on which Vacheron Constantin could build a series of future complications with additional plates or integrated functions. The brand’s engineers and watchmakers therefore developed a manual-winding mechanical movement with durability and reliability in mind. The piece’s reliability is undeniable as is its care-free durability, which can be counted in ages not seasons. This movement, in the jargon of watchmakers, is respectfully called a ‘tractor’.
The Calibre 4400 is 11 1/2”’, with the perfect diameter of 28.5mm, a thickness of 2.8mm and a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. It displays hours, minutes and small seconds at 6 o’clock, while its large barrel provides a power reserve of more than 60 hours (the time of a long weekend). With superb classical architecture, it is stamped with the PoinÇon de GenÈve (Hallmark of Geneva or Geneva Seal) and thus meets the strict design and technical requirements and criteria of this exclusive hallmark established in 1886 by the State of Geneva and attributable only to movements assembled and regulated in Geneva. Besides the mandatory origin of the piece, the twelve essential criteria specified by the PoinÇon de GenÈve include technical requirements for excellent manufacturing as well as stringent conditions for aesthetics including the finishing, polishing, chamfering, decoration, equilibrium, artisanal workmanship, consistency and harmony of all the elements making up the movement, whether they are visible or not. And as all watchmakers will tell you, a timepiece that is intentionally made with great attention to even the slightest aesthetic detail will work better and last longer than all the others.
Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph perpetual calendar
This very contemporary, high performance, robust and yet classic calibre equips the Patrimony Traditionnelle 38mm. (See illustration on the previous page.) The large size of this new movement lets the wearer admire its details through the sapphire crystal case back that screws into the 18 carat rose gold case. Water resistant to 30 metres, its 38mm case evokes the characteristic shapes of the collection to which it belongs. Under the curved anti-reflective sapphire crystal is a silvered opaline dial, featuring black hands with a grey band, a small azure seconds hand at 6 o’clock, dauphine hands and gold indexes. That might be all, but this timepiece is a rare example that has already become a classic.
Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph
The heart of the matter
An entirely different movement, the legendary Calibre 1141, a manual-winding column-wheel chronograph, equips the new Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar and Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograph. A magnificent movement, its architecture has become a reference standard in the domain. It equips some of the most prestigious chronographs in the history of timekeeping (Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe and Breguet exclusively use it today). For Vacheron Constantin, this grand classic in the art of timekeeping is finished according to the brand’s own criteria and is revitalizing the Geneva brand’s chronographic offer.
openworked Patrimony Traditionnelle
In its Chronograph version, this calibre is at the heart of a 42mm case with particularly good and immediate readability of the indications on the opaline dial. A tachometric scale in km/h encircles the dial with enough space at the centre to allow perfect readability of the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and the minute counter at 9 o’clock. Both are reminiscent of the counters of the 1940s, a historically prolific period for chronographs if there ever was one. With its 18 carat rose gold case, water resistance to 30 metres, sapphire crystal caseback and ergonomically styled push-pieces, it is a reference, a timeless watch with an air of subtle sporty elegance.
Patrimony Traditionnelle jewellery
In search of the light
The qualities of delicacy, fineness and radiance are intensified in the Patrimony Traditionnelle Openworked models. Two calibres lend themselves to the gossamer art of skeletonising or openworking—a double art in which the master watchmaker and the master engraver work together so that the skill of one refines and showcases the science of the other.
The manual-winding Calibre 1003 SQ has a thickness, or should we say a thinness, of only 1.64mm and is stamped with the PoinÇon de GenÈve. The automatic Calibre 1120 SQ, created in 1967, has the exceptional size of 2.54mm in thickness. The Calibre 1003 SQ is placed in a 30mm 18 carat white gold case, while the Calibre 1120 SQ is in a case with a diameter of 38mm. The architectures of both pieces in terms of the mechanism, the light and the transparency are enhanced by the bezels set with 64 or 82 round diamonds, respectively.
Still in the realm of movements is another manual-winding calibre, also stamped with the PoinÇon de GenÈve, the Calibre Vacheron Constantin 1400, which equips the ultimate in luxury, the Patrimony Traditionnelle Jewellery.
Patrimony Traditionnelle jewellery
In this rare example, the stone setting is not so much for ‘enriching’ the piece as it is for ‘revealing’ it—revealing the purity and harmony of its form, which itself goes straight to the essential. Yet, as classic as its form may be, it is also perhaps the most suitable to not only showcase the work of the stone setter but also to underscore, with its intricate diamond pavÉ, the absolute equilibrium of the watch. Another example of truly great timekeeping art.
Source: Europa Star June-July 2009 Magazine Issue