Last week one of the most revered Swiss watchmakers has presented its new Vacheron Constantin Historique Aronde 1954 (Ref. 81018/000R-9657) hand-wound watch in rose gold. Featuring a very unusual shape of its massive rose gold case, the watch, unlike millions of generic-looking “classic” luxury timekeepers, makes a very strong and, what’s even more important, lasting impression.
A serious watchmaking house always has something to show off at such an important event as Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. This year, at SIHH 2011, the Swiss Manufacture has delivered a number of its own takes on an ‘everyday’ dress watch. Designed for persons that are absolutely certain that only the best is good enough (and even that with certain reservations), the watch makes a very strong impression of something that is more a work of art rather than an object of conspicuous consumption.
According to official specification, the timepiece is powered by the same Caliber 1400 manually-wound movement, that we have seen last year in the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Contemporaine for Venezuela limited edition wrist watch
This relatively new job which is stamped with the legendary Hallmark of Geneva sign has already owned reputation of a well-designed and superbly (yet laconically) decorated mechanism. As small as it is (it measures just over 20 millimeters in diameter), the ultra-thin movement not only looks good in barrel-shaped timekeepers, but will probably be used to animate watches designed for ladies.
Perhaps, its only problem is rather unimpressive power reserve of just 40 hours: for a modern mechanism, this is just not enough.
The new timekeeper is delivered in a uniquely shaped case, also made of rose gold.
As you can see on the pictures, the elongated body of the watch features swallow-shaped sides that provide the ultra-thin timepiece with feather-light, even playful appearance.
Compared to many tonneau-shaped timekeepers, this new device looks a lot more original and is as elegant (in that lovely old-school way) as the 1958 Aston Martin DB4.
Still, given its overall length of almost 45 millimeters, it may prove a bit difficult to wear for persons with relatively narrow wrists. Also, its curved profile may be not particularly comfortable if you prefer shirts with relatively tight cuffs.
The visual lightness of the VC Historique Aronde 1954 is further supported with an opaline silvered dial with hand-engraved guilloche pattern that seems to be inspired by a medieval coat-of-arms, as well as hand-applied hour markers and a pair of Arabic numerals at 6 and 12 o’clock.
The baton-shaped hands are also thin enough to be in harmony with the rest of the dial, but at the same time are also large enough for the watch to be completely legible.
Frankly, I have an impression that this straightforward dial is a bit off key compared to the curvy lines of the rose gold case, but this sort of dissonance is probably intentional: there is clearly something jazzy about this model.
It is not yet clear whether Vacheron Constantin plans to sell the watch as a limited edition model or will produce as many timepieces as it will be able to sell.
I surely hope that the latter will be true, since this new timepiece looks absolutely fabulous.
Photos: Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin Historiques Aronde 1954 (Ref. 81018/000R-9657) hand-wound watch specification
Price: $29,500 (Retail)
Movement: Manual (hand-wound,) Caliber 1400 AS, 20.65 mm in diameter, 2.60 mm in height, Hallmark of Geneva stamp, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 20
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds
Power reserve: 40 hours
Case material: Rose gold
Bezel material: Rose gold
Case shape: Rectangular
Bezel shape: Rectangular
Case size: 44.50 mm x 31.20 mm
Lug width: No data
Case height: 9.95 mm
Dial: Opaline silvered
Numerals: Arabic, hand-applied
Hands: Gold, polished
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Brown stitched-tip, large square-scaled Mississippiensis alligator leather. Buckle in 18-carat rose gold. Polished half Maltese cross
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire