Two new models with a dose of Old Hollywood-inspired style.
If you’ve been desperately seeking a watch to match your penchant for an Old Fashioned and Cuban hand-rolled cigars, Vacheron Constantin has you covered. Two new Historiques models seek to revive a 1940s aesthetic, complete with the eras most popular complication – the complete calendar – with date, days of the week and the month all covered on the dial.
While the first Vacheron Constantin calendar wristwatches date back to the 1920s, the 1940s were the golden age of this complication in the brand’s history. At the time, Vacheron’s 4240 and 4240L complete calendars (released in 1942 and 1948 respectively), were some of its most popular models – taking its name further afield than ever before.
Today, the Historiques Triple calendrier 1942 and the Triple calendrier 1948 could have been taken from the wrists of James Stewart, Cary Grant or Humphrey Bogart with their classic round cases with triple gadroons, two-tone dial, ‘claw-type’ lugs and mechanical-winding movement. Other nods to the 1940s include a box-type glass, slightly thicker than usual, which allows for an extremely slender bezel and water-resistance to 30 metres. Both ‘reinterpretations’ are available with 40mm cases at a thickness of 10.35mm.
On the reverse, a sapphire glass-covered caseback reveals the new complete calendar calibre, referred to as 4400 QC or 4400 QCL for the moonphase version. Developed entirely by the brand, the new calibre is said to “preserve the original spirit of the mid-20th century calendars,” while providing a 65-hour power reserve.
To be precise, these aren’t wholly new movements but newly complicated versions of the hand-wound calibre 4400 which was introduced back in 2009. This is the first time the movement has had modules added, and although inevitably they have grown from 2.8mm thick to 4.6mm, the cased-up watches are pretty svelte at 10.35mm thick. Thickness, and the commitment to hand-winding, must have been a serious consideration because Vacheron already had an automatic triple calendar movement ready to slot straight in, as seen in the Harmony collection.
All very proper too – we expect the grandes maisons not to cut corners, and for the kind of collector likely to be on dealer’s call lists for these rare pieces, an automatic movement would be a serious turn-off.
The Historiques Triple calendrier 1942 is inspired by the understated appearance of the original 4240. Its dial features a small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock, along with hand-type day and month aperture with the date encircling the outer dial. The date track appears in a choice of burgundy or dark blue on a two-tone silvered dial that was typical of the 1940s. The vintage look is finished with a sunburst satin-finished centre, neat Arabic numerals and a brown or blue alligator leather strap. Interestingly for the Historiques collection, the Triple calendrier 1942 is not limited edition and opts for steel instead of the usual precious metal case.
In contrast, the Historiques Triple calendrier 1948 is a particularly suave-looking timepiece, complete with a combined moonphase and small seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock. Limited to 200 pieces in each colourway, the 18k pink gold 1948 features applied Roman numerals, triangle-type hour-markers and slim baton hands. Its calendar functions and moon disc appear in a choice of burgundy or dark blue, teamed with a brown or dark blue alligator leather strap.
For a real return to golden age sophistication, the Historiques collection is an ideal place to look. Vacheron Constantin has been reviving its vintage timepieces through this collection for more than 20-years… and why not when the results are this good? Eyes will be feasted on the typography, the “triple gadroon” stepped bezels and the richly coloured moonphase dials.
The lugs on the 1942 are worth particular attention (not the first time in recent memory that we’ve said that about Vacheron’s heritage revival pieces either). Somewhere between “Cornes de Vaches” and “spider” lugs, the brand refers to them both as “claw-type”, for those of you updating your glossaries.
The Historiques Triple calendrier 1942 is priced at $18,400, while the limited-edition Historiques Triple calendrier 1948 stands at $33,800.
This article was first published on Salon QP
Investigating the Vacheron Constantin American 1921.