Vacheron Constantin has issued an ultra-limited edition of its super-slim Patrimony Contemporaine (ref. 81180) model devoted to the Latin American Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Presented in a finely-crafted rose gold (or even platinum) case 40 millimeters in diameter and also slim at less than 7 millimeters, the timepiece looks like one of the best options that are currently available for those searching for a dress watch, which is as elegant and understated as it is expensive.
Although current Venezuelan president Mr. Hugo Chavez devotes much of his time nationalizing local businesses, there are still enough wealthy persons in the country that can afford a Vacheron Constantin, especially if it is offered in a limited run of only 19 pieces individually numbered pieces. Perhaps, a country with a population of more than 30 million could probably absorb even more of these beautiful timepieces, but the Bolivarian Republic celebrates its Independence Day on April 19th.
Well, let me clarify things a little here since they look a bit messy to me. The state that is currently headed by Mr. Chavez actually celebrates the I-Day on the 5th of July: it was on this date back in 1811 when a congress of Venezuelan provinces declared the country’s independence from the Spanish Crown. However, that was a second republic here: things started to boil there a year earlier when the Spanish monarchy started to unravel under the huge blows delivered by Napoleon and their numerous overseas colonies realized that there was an opportunity to gain independence from their masters. Some historians believe that the revolutions in Latin America were reactionary in their essence being nothing more than an attempt to postpone the social changes that were unfolding in Europe, but, still, the establishment of the Supreme Caracas Junta marked the beginning of the end of Spanish rule in this part of the continent.
Some may argue that the First Republic’s value doesn’t correspond to those of Mr. Chavez, but, well, maybe there is some light trolling on VC’s part here, I don’t know: maybe they simply decided that making 19 special edition watches is more economically feasible than assembling just five.
There are two versions of the “Venezuela Edition”: 10 pieces in rose gold (pictured) and 9 more pieces in Pt 950 platinum. Both are powered by VC’s in-house Caliber 1400 manual-wound movement that proudly wears the Hallmark of Geneva shield on one of its tastefully decorated bridges.
Being 20.35 mm in diameter and 2.60 mm in height, the cal. 1400 is very thin, but, unfortunately, cannot be called the thinnest hand-wound movement in the world.
For example, JLC’s ultra-thin Caliber 849 that powers the 2008 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control 1833, is only 1.85 mm in height, making the Caliber 1400 look like a quarter-pound hamburger.
The only thing that differs the special edition model from a normal Patrimony Contemporaine model from the same collection, is that this edition comes equipped with solid case-back cover made either of 18-karat rose gold or of 950 platinum alloy and features an engraving “Estados Unidos de Venezuela” (obviously “United States of Venezuela”) and an Arabic number “19” right in its center.
There is still no info about the price, but you may expect the rose gold version to retail at around $25,000. The platinum version will be even more expensive. It’s hard to estimate its potential collectability at this time, but, frankly, I think the watch will retain its resale value at basically the same level as the standard edition.
Photos: Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine for Venezuela (ref. 81180) specification
Movement: Caliber 1400, hand-wound, with Hallmark of Geneva indication of origin, 2.6 mm in height, 20.35 mm in diameter, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes
Power reserve: 40 hours
Case: 18-karat Rose gold or Platinum
Size: 40.00 mm
Case height: 6.79 mm
Dial: White or Grained Platinum
Hands: Gold or Platinum
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Leather, hand-stitched
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid, engraved