Vacheron Constantin never misses a chance to show off its watchmaking prowess especially when it comes to such a prestigious event as the annual SIHH show. At this year’s SIHH 2011 event, the brand has introduced the new Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 43175/000R-9687) in rose gold to its gorgeous and dressy Patrimony Contemporaine collection.
The timekeeper features a predictably easy to recognize design with relatively clean, easy to grasp with a single glance dial and a delicately, but firmly sculpted case. A little bit bigger than your average dressy perpetual calendar, the case is still compact enough. Although modesty is not the first word that comes to mind when you deal with a timepiece that costs like a German or British executive sedan, it still looks reserved: it is clearly NOT a piece designed to be offered as a gift to a corrupted bureaucrat from a mineral-reach third-world country.
If you are looking for an elegantly understated complication watch, this is possibly as good as you will get.
The new Patrimony Contemporaine is reported to be powered by their well-known Caliber 1120 QP automatic movement and, predictably, features all the complications that are required from a “perpetual calendar”.
Although the exterior decor doesn’t look as gorgeous as the beautiful mechanisms designed by A. Lange & Sohne or Glashutte Original, the movement still makes a strong impression with the way it is designed and built. Designed and manufactured by Jaeger LeCoultre as Caliber 920 since the late 1960s, the base movement is also used by Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe to power their timekeepers.
Since the tractor caliber was originally designed to animate simple two-handers, this 1120 QP model features an add-on module that powers the full calendar display. Of course, this design makes the mechanism a little less reliable, but that’s not a problem: it is still reliable enough to put to shame some major car manufacturing brands.
Even a person who is not interested in technical details can’t help but wonder how many man-hours the legendary Swiss Manufacture had to invest to finish and re-assemble this wonderfully technocratic mechanism.
There is a moon phase display at 6 o’clock; a date indicator at 3 o’clock, a day of the week subdial at 9 o’clock, and a current month display at 12 o’clock with a mandatory leap year indicator just inside it.
Its silvered opaline dial features a convex external zone with a circular-grained minute-track with eight baton-shaped and four triangle-shaped hour-markers with gold cabochons serving as minute markers.
As generic as it could have looked on a timekeeper made by a less experienced brand, the dial looks easy to recognize with all the usual styling elements employed by Vacheron Constantin. All of its elements are well-balanced: nothing stands out and nothing is lost in the clutter: there is simply no clutter, everything is where it should be and you can always read time or date with just a passing glance.
All this beauty is packed inside a medium-sized 18-karat rose gold case 41 millimeters in diameter.
Measuring less than nine millimeters top to bottom, the gadget is pretty comfortable to wear and looks good even on thinner wrists thanks to its relatively short lugs that are just long enough to let the brown alligator leather strap firmly in its place.
My only complaint here is the relatively small setting crown that may be a bit difficult to operate to those with thicker, stubbier fingers. Otherwise, it is almost perfect.
Photos: Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 43175/000R-9687) specification
Price: $75,000 (Retail)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber 1120 QP, 29.60 mm in diameter, 4.05 mm in height, base Jaeger LeCoultre Caliber 920, modified and finished in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 36
Movement frequency: 19,800 vph
Functions: Hours, minutes, moon phase, date, day of the week, month, leap year
Power reserve: 40 hours
Case: Rose gold
Size: 41 mm
Case height: 8.96 mm
Dial: Silvered, opaline
Hands: Rose gold
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Brown hand-stitched, saddle-finished, large square-scaled Mississippiensis alligator leather strap. Rose gold triple-blade Vacheron Constantin folding clasp. Polished half Maltese cross