As I have already mentioned in one of the previous articles, next month in Geneva Vacheron Constantin is going to use the upcoming SIHH 2010 event to reveal its new Historique collection. Besides the gorgeous Historique 1968 in a square case, there will also be a Historique Ultra-fine 1955 (ref. 33155/000R-9588) model in a more traditional round super-slim body. Also crafted from a thin slab of 18-karat yellow gold, the 1955 Ultra-fine offers a nice combination of a classic-shaped case with one of the best “historic” movements that you can currently get not only in a perfect working condition but backed by full manufacturer’s warranty as well!
Just like the aforementioned Historique 1968, the Vacheron Constantin Historique 1955 will be motivated by the vintage Calibre VC 1003 hand-wound movement that was first officially revealed in almost 55 years ago back in 1955 (hence the name of the new collection) and was, in fact, a decorated version of the vintage JLC Caliber 849 blanc movement that was designed and manufactured by Jaeger-LeCoultre specifically for Vacheron Constantin and Audemars Piguet (Audemars Piguet used the same movement in their ultra-thin watches but referred to it as AP 2003, it was first shown two years earlier, in 1953.)
Although some not particularly friendly pundits sometimes say that Vacheron Constantin has long run out not only of ideas but also of the vintage calibers themselves (they stopped introducing new collections powered by the movement around seven years ago after Jaeger-LeCoultre finally stopped making the legendary ebauches,) it seems that they still have a stock of mechanisms waiting for a special occasion to be finally installed into yet another “special edition”.
Being just 20.8 mm in diameter, the tiny movement is only 1.64 mm thick (just a trifle thicker than some coins,) so VC managed to produce a case, which is only 36.0 mm in diameter and just over four millimeters thick making it even 0.1 mm thinner than the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Ultra Thin 145.240.792B, which is powered by the same JLC 849 caliber. Although I can’t forecast how the reduction in thickness affected the case’s structural rigidity, I still must confess that I am impressed: with its elegantly flowing lines and overall slimness, the 1955 Ultra-fine looks like a breath of fresh air over the legions of those “deliberately sporty” modern dress watches that try to impress you with nothing more, but a sheer mass of precious metal that was used to craft their intentionally massive cases.
Still no info about the price, but, if you want to get yourself a piece of horological history, you should hurry up to get one: there are not many VC 1003 calibers left so the production will be naturally limited.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 5/5
UPDATE: Well, it looks like Vacheron Constantin asks $28,000 for this piece of slender beauty.
UPDATE 2: As the price of gold is increasing, the MSRP for this gorgeous timekeeper is increasing at a similar pace. At the time of my re-reviewing this model, the recommended minimum street price is set at just below $30,000. I guess, life is trying to tell us that it is not the best idea to wait an extra year before ordering the watch: it won’t get any cheaper.
Photos: Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin Historique Ultra-fine 1955 (ref. 33155/000R-9588) specification
Price range: $30,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber VC 1003 (base Jaeger-LeCoultre,) hand-wound, 18-karat gold, Hallmark of Geneva, 20.8 mm x 1.64 mm, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes
Power reserve: 30 hours
Case: Rose gold, 18-karat, 4N
Size: 36.00 mm
Case height: 4.10 mm
Dial: 18-karat gold, silvered opaline, mirror-polished Maltese Cross and indexes
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black hand-stitched, saddle-finished. Square-shape scales alligator leather. Buckle in 18-karat 4N rose gold, polished half Maltese Cross
Crystal: Sapphire, AR-coated