Next month, during the upcoming SIHH 2014 show, VC will officially reveal its Vacheron Constantin Malte High Jewellery Tourbillon (ref. 30630/000G-9899). Featuring 418 baguette-cut diamonds on its body, crown, dial and even on the white gold folding clasp, the watch features an “invisible setting” technique that demands a team of highly skilled designers and jewelers and literally hundreds of man-hours for each timekeeper.
Like the other members of the Malte series, this one is delivered in a tonneau-shaped body and is based on their current Malte Tourbillon (Ref. 30130/000R-9754), but has the rose gold swapped for 18-karat white gold.
Often (especially when you come to a well-lit place), high-jewelry watches tend to be difficult to read due to all this shimmering glitter of diamonds and polished gold that radiate back too much light. This particular model, however, easily solves the legibility problem with just a pair of blacked hour and minute hands that look contrast enough even on this sparkling background of 174 baguette-cut diamonds totaling approximately 6.70 carats. Still, the watch scored poorly in our “overall legibility” rating due to total lack of lume on its indicators: at night, legibility is basically nonexistent for this member of Malte family.
Besides the diamonds, the main point of attraction here is the oversized tourbillon carriage that takes a lion’s share of dial’s real estate showing us the famous Maltese Cross design that the brand is associated with.
Being a part of their in-house VC Caliber 2795 hand-wound movement, the tourbillon not only noticeably increases the mechanism’s precision, but also looks absolutely gorgeous thanks to all those hand-decorated parts that we can see through the circular cutout, too, framed with polished white gold and dozens of diamonds.
The movement itself, which is also tonneau-shaped in order to better fit the case, is, too, nicely decorated with Geneva stripes and circular-graining and even features the legendary Geneva Seal on one its plates.
The movement, as I have already briefly mentioned, is housed in the same barrel-shaped body as other Malte series timepieces. While at 17.70 mm from top to bottom the white gold case is not terribly thick (at least, for a tourbillon), it takes lots of space on a normal person’s wrists. Even despite its extremely short lugs, the 48-millimeter long body covers a normal wrist from side to side, it may even look a bit awkward if your wrist is too thin for it.
The culprit here is the tourbillon carriage that occupies exactly half of the mechanism’s elongated body. Basically, the watch was designed not as a time-telling device, but rather as a vehicle for the exquisitely executed complication, so, the size in this particular instance is not a design flaw, but rather a feature, like an elongated hood of a sports car or a disproportionally large cabin of a president’s limousine.
What’s the most intriguing that Vacheron Constantin doesn’t plan to limit the model’s production. Considering the trinket’s price (the luxury item retails for more than $840,000 USD), they are probably absolutely right thinking that the total number of timekeepers will be drastically limited by Adam Smith’s invisible hand.
Photos: Vacheron Constantin
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 2/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Vacheron Constantin Malte High Jewellery Tourbillon specification (ref. 30630/000G-9899)
Price: $844,300 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, VC caliber 2795, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 27
Movement frequency: 18,000 vph
Power reserve: 45 hours
Movement decoration: Hand-decorated (Geneva stripes, perlage, polished-screw-heads)
Functions: Hours, minutes, tourbillon
Case: White gold, set with diamonds
Dimensions: 38.00 mm x 48.00 mm
Case height: 17.70 mm
Dial: White gold, set with diamonds
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black Mississippiensis alligator with alligator leather inner shell, hand-stitched, saddle finish, large square scales and with an 18k-carat white gold folding clasp set with 12 baguette-cut diamonds totaling approximately 0.79 carats
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective