Just like the rest of the competition, the Swiss ultra-luxury watchmaker Vacheron Constantin is not shy of bringing updated versions of their well-known timepieces: when design is great, there is no need to ditch it just because it’s old; all you need is make some tiny changes and customers will flock to buy a face-lifted version of the watch. The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Retrograde Day and Date in White Gold (ref. 86020/000G-9508) is one of those timekeepers that have undergone some minor changes for the upcoming season. Presented at SIHH 2010, the gentleman’s gadget will set you back for more than $45k USD, but seems to be absolutely worth the price if you can afford one.
Originally designed in rose gold and later presented as a new member of the Vacheron Constantin Collection Excellence Platine, the Patrimone Conterporaine Retrograde Day and Date was, as the name implies, delivered in a 42.5 case made of platinum. Both durable and massive, it is also really expensive, so, considering current status of the world economy, it was a wise decision to replace platinum with white gold.
That was, for what it’s worth, the only significant change to the watch.
The 2010 Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Retrograde Day and Date in white gold still houses the 2460 R31 R7 manufacture automatic caliber stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva guaranteeing that the movement is both accurate and durable.
Storing enough energy to return the retrograde day of week and date indicators’s hands from the extreme right to the starting position in just 1/10 of a second, the movement still offers 40 hour of power reserve, which is quite adequate, although you will still have to wind-up the watch on a daily basis.
Although Vacheron Constantin often uses third-party calibers sourced from, for example, Jaeger-LeCoultre for their less expensive wristwatches, their higher-grade models are usually powered by mechanisms that they make solely in-house. I frankly can’t vouch that the family VC 2460 that this mechanism is based wasn’t designed around some older, pre-Quartz Revolution caliber, but, as I have already mentioned, it is marketed as a “Manufacture”-grade caliber and I don’t see any particular reason not to trust one of the most prized members of the Richemont group.
What’s quite annoying about this version of the watch, is that VC for some reason decided to represent the date and day of week indicators’s hands in a darker shade of white gold (or is it titanium?), while the original watches had their hands either heat-blued (the platinum version) or black, ensuring acceptable contrast and providing the dial with more depth. Although it is not seen on the photos made for their press release, real life shots show that the hands clearly lack the need contrast. In fact, they make the watch look somewhat cheap (sorry VC, I had to say that.)
Also, given the timekeeper’s overall “sporty” appearance, it is strange that the hands are not covered with even thinnest stripes of Superluminova: it wouldn’t hurt the Patrimony Contemporaine’s stately appearance, but would greatly enhance its nighttime legibility.
Well, it’s still a great watch even if *ahem* a tad expensive.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
See also: Vacheron Constantin Historique 1955
Photos: Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Retrograde Day and Date in White Gold watch specification
Price range: $45,800 (MSRP)
Movement: Caliber VC 2460 R31 R7, automatic, 27 jewels, 28,800 vph, 5.40 mm high, 25.6 mm in diameter, Swiss Made
Movement finish: Oscillating weight in yellow gold with barleycorn guilloche, diagonal Geneva Stripes on rhodium-plated bridges, gear wheels with sunburst finish, polished screw-heads
Functions & Complications: Hours, minutes, retrograde date, retrograde day of week
Power reserve: 40 hours
Case material: 18-carat white gold
Bezel material: matches case
Case shape: Round
Transparent case back: Yes, sapphire caseback
Case size: 42.50 mm
Case height: 10.11 mm
Dial: Silver opaline
Numerals: Arabic, printed (days of month scale on the retrograde calendar indicator)
Hands: White gold; Days of Month and Days of Week pointers are open-worked
Strap: Black alligator leather with black stitching and deployant buckle in polished white gold
Crystal: Sapphire, anti-reflection coating
Water resistance: 30 meters