Just like the rest of the competition, Vacheron Constantin is not shy of bringing updated versions of their well-known timepieces: when the 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. The 2010 Patrimony Contemporaine Retrograde Day and Date in White Gold (ref. 86020/000G-9508) is one of those gentleman’s gadgets that have undergone some minor changes for the upcoming season. Presented at the SIHH 2010, it will set you back for more than $45k but is worth the price if you can afford one.
Originally designed in rose gold and later presented as a new member of the 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 expensive, so, considering the 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.
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’ hands from the extreme right to the starting position in just 1/10 of a second, the movement still offers 40 hours of power reserve, which is adequate, although you will still have to wind-up the mainspring daily.
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 annoying about this version, is that VC for some reason decided to represent the date and day of week indicators’ hands in a darker shade of white gold (or is it titanium?), while the original models 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 lack the needed contrast. In fact, they make the dial 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 product even if *ahem* a tad expensive.
See also: Vacheron Constantin Historique 1955
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Photos: Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Retrograde Day and Date 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 and Bezel: 18-karat white gold
Transparent back: Yes, sapphire
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