In January 2011, Vacheron Constantin has presented its Historique Aronde 1954 (Ref. 81018/000R-9657). Featuring an unusual shape of its massive 18-karat rose gold case, the Aronde 1954, unlike millions of generic-looking “classic” luxury timekeepers, makes a 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 certain that only the best is good enough (and even that with certain reservations), the Aronde 1954 makes a strong impression of something that is more a work of art rather than an object of conspicuous consumption.
According to the official specification, the timepiece is powered by the same Caliber 1400 manually-wound movement, that we have seen last year inside the limited-edition Patrimony Contemporaine for Venezuela
This relatively new job which is stamped with the legendary Hallmark of Geneva sign has already owned the 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 a 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 in the pictures, the elongated body 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 maybe not particularly comfortable if you prefer shirts with relatively tight cuffs.
The visual lightness of the Historique Aronde 1954 is further supported with an opaline silvered dial with a hand-engraved guilloche pattern that is 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 face, but at the same time are also large enough for the dial to be completely legible.
Frankly, I have the 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 something jazzy about this model, don’t you think?
It is not yet clear whether Vacheron Constantin plans to sell the Aronde 1954 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 fabulous.
Photos: Vacheron Constantin
Vacheron Constantin Historiques Aronde 1954 (Ref. 81018/000R-9657) specification
Price: $29,500 (Retail)
Movement: 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: Rose gold
Dimensions: 44.50 mm x 31.20 mm
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-karat rose gold. Polished half Maltese cross
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective