05/17/2023
 6 minutes

Vacheron Constantin: Excellence & Ease

By Barbara Korp
Vacheron-Constantin-2-1

Not one of many: it’s what we look for in a watch. We want something rare, something different, something that makes us feel special when we wear it. Well, that’s exactly what Vacheron Constantin offers: “one of not many” is, in fact, their credo. And it’s no exaggeration, as even a brief look at the brand will show. Not only is it the oldest continuously operating watch manufacturer in the world, but along with Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet, it’s also one of the “Big Three” Swiss watch brands. But unlike those other names, Vacheron Constantin is still considered somewhat of an insider’s tip.

What makes Vacheron Constantin watches so unique? And why should you want one? VC describe their style as “classic with a twist.” And there’s no better way to put it. The brand’s watches aren’t flashy. They don’t demand attention. They do, however, captivate. By making manifest the manufacturer’s love of craftsmanship and fine detail, they offer something new, but with a traditional feel. We recently introduced you to the most popular collection in the company’s catalog, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas. Today, we invite you to discover other models that are truly “not one of many” – I promise!

Historiques American 1921

“Classic with a twist.” The motto is one of Vacheron Constantin’s favorites. And while it might apply to many a watch in the brand’s catalog, it is perhaps more apt a description of one watch more than any other: the Historiques American 1921. Inspired by the Roaring Twenties, this timepiece is a real eye-catcher, thanks to the unusual positioning of its crown and its diagonal dial. The design is not only fashionable, it’s also practical, since it improves the watch’s legibility. When wearing it, you can tell the time without having to bend your wrist or elbow. Traditionally, this feature has proven especially useful for pilots and race car drivers. Nowadays, it’s helpful to anyone working at a computer.

In the 1920s, the watch quickly became a cult classic in the target American market, and was a hot commodity in collector circles. When the model was reintroduced in 2021, it had the same effect. The version with the classic diameter of 36 mm was a particular success; it just oozes elegance in every setting, while remaining extraordinary enough to satisfy our inner dandy. It’s a watch that is every bit as revolutionary and modern after 100 years as it was on Day One, and is thus certain to never go out of style.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921
Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921

Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955

Of course, Swiss watch manufacturers are always proud of their heritage. After all, the country is synonymous with extraordinary achievements in the industry. However, the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 takes this kind of national pride to new heights by featuring cow horns. That’s right: Cow horn-shaped lugs are the hallmark of the first water-resistant chronograph, introduced in 1955. Combined with the watch’s relatively small dimensions, the effect is elegant – a charming contrast to the otherwise sporty chronograph and its tachymeter.

“What’s inside the watch is in no way inferior to what’s on the outside: In 1955, the manufacturer did not yet have an in-house caliber with a stopwatch function, nor did the other big names in watchmaking. Instead, they used the column-wheel VZ or 23 caliber from Valjoux, famous for its perfection and fine craftsmanship, down to the last detail. Today, the watch is powered by the in-house caliber 1142. This movement is based on one of the most well-known hand-wound chronograph calibers, the Lemania 2310 (which was also the base caliber of Omega’s legendary Moonwatch), and is refined to such a high standard that it’s been given the quality seal of the City and Canton of Geneva, the Geneva Seal. So if you want a watch that’s unique, and also outstanding in terms of both design and caliber, you’ll most certainly find what you’re looking for in the Cornes de Vache 1955.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques 1955 Cornes de Vache
Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955

Égérie: Haute Horlogerie Meets Haute Couture

Although you’ll find women’s watches throughout the Vacheron Constantin catalog, one collection is devoted exclusively to women. Égérie watches are the embodiment of a love of haute horlogerie paired with a passion for haute couture, i.e., the art of fashion design. The most striking nod to the fashion world is the elegantly pleated pattern on the dial. However, the watch’s needle-shaped hands are also a discreet homage to the trade. The watch exudes a serene, confident vibe, despite its incredibly detailed dial and numerous diamonds. You could wear it with jeans and not look overdressed.

Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be a Vacheron Constantin without a twist. Here, it’s the offset crown and date window (or moon phase on some models) between 1 and 2 o’clock. The skewed position allows you to read the date without having to turn your hand while wearing it. The watch also comes with multiple leather straps of different colors, making costume changes quick and easy. Whether the watch is a tribute to women or to women’s wants is debatable. But there is no doubt that the Égérie, with its detailed design elements and high-quality movement, is one of the best women’s watches out there.

Vacheron Constantin Égérie 35mm Roségold
Vacheron Constantin Égérie 35 mm in rose gold

Historiques 222

The reintroduction of the Historiques 222 was another real coup in the history of the brand. The watch first debuted in the 1970s (along with myriad other luxury sports watches of similar ilk), but was a bit of a dud, and after producing fewer than 2,000 pieces in an eight-year period, Vacheron Constantin discontinued it. At the time, collectors who owned this watch rejoiced, since the value of the timepiece skyrocketed due to its rarity. Everyone else was disappointed. But then something strange happened: the older the model got, the more modern it appeared. In a twist worthy of Vacheron Constantin, it was almost as if the classic 222 had been ahead of its time.

Then, at Watches and Wonders 2022, Vacheron Constantin announced they would be reintroducing the 222: not a new version of the classic, but the classic itself, in its original, vintage size of 37 mm. The move coincided with the beginning of the current trend toward smaller-diameter timepieces. That means the 222 is also ahead of its time in the present, and therefore the ideal watch for setters of trends, not followers.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222
Vacheron Constantin Historiques 222

Saltarello

Hardly any other complication is associated with Vacheron Constantin as much as the retrograde display. The feature enables watchmakers to display measurable elements in an arc, rather than a circle. When it reaches the end of the arc, the display hand jumps back to its starting position. The feature is sometimes used to display the date and day of the week, but on the Vacheron Constantin Saltarello it is also used to display the hours. Jumping hours first appeared in 1824, and have been regularly used for various watch models ever since. No wonder, then, that this complication, when used to display the time, is as extravagant as it is elegant – just like the brand.

Vacheron Constantin Saltarello
Vacheron Constantin Saltarello

Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date

As mentioned, the retrograde display is often used to show the date and day of the week on a dial, as it is on the Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date. The feature keeps the watch dial tidy, structured, and legible, despite an abundance of information. This ensures that the timepiece itself remains elegant in terms of its look, which is the trademark of watches in this collection. But do we really buy a watch with a retrograde display for its design? Or do we rather wait in anticipation for the jumping hand to make its miraculous leap backward, time and time again? You decide!

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date

Summary

Whether you opt for a watch from the Historiques collection, fall in love with a retrograde display, or long for an Égérie to adorn your wrist, each of these unique timepieces promise to be “one of not many.” But above all, Vacheron Constantin watches are designed with passion and enthusiasm. They’re less a statement about the world in which we wear watches, and more a clue to the inner world of the wearer: elegant and extravagant, classic and modern, out of time but ahead of the curve. Plus, their carefully designed, refined details are fertile ground for rediscovery and inspiration. These timepieces don’t just show us the time, they show us ourselves.

Want to read more about Vacheron Constantin? You can here.


About the Author

Barbara Korp

The moment I learned that watches were a lot more than just simple jewelry, I was hooked; I become enamored with the elegance of timekeeping. But there was one small hitch: most models were just too big for me to wear! That didn't discourage me, however. In fact, I developed quite a niche interest.

Read more

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