The charm of the Vachenron Constantin Maison
Let’s take a quick look back at the charm of the world’s most prominent Maison. In 2023, counting 267 years since the founding of Jean = Marc Vacheron, the world’s oldest manufacture “Vachennron Constantin”. As Les Cabinotiers (Les Cabinotiers = group of excellent watchmakers), which can be said to be the haute couture house of the watch world, we have consistently received orders since our founding, and have continued to make bespoke watches entirely by hand. It is the only Maison that has shaken off many crises and has kept its tradition alive without ever handing over management rights or taking a leave of absence.
What is retrograde?
It means “retrograde” as can be seen from the combination of “retro” and “grade” = “walking”, which means “backward / reverse”. Retrograde date is a date display mechanism in which the needle moves from the start point to the end point of the scale along the arc of the display, and when it reaches the end point, it moves back to the start point and moves again. If it takes a long time to go back from “30” to “1”, the date will be displayed incorrectly, so the retrograde needle must do this in an instant. This requires extremely precise actuation and rigorous expertise. It must be particularly precise, but at the same time resistant to shocks and durable, which is why it is valuable.
Three new creations with retrograde
(1) Traditional Tourbillon Retrograde Date Open Face
The structure of calibre 2162 R31, with its NAC-treated slate-grey surface finish, is fully visible from both the front and back of the watch thanks to its open work, and is attracted by its mechanical impact.
Christian Selmoni, Vacheron Constantin’s Style & Heritage Director, said of the calibre: “It’s a clear rivalry between the tradition of Haute Horlogerie and the ever-required innovation, and this calibre will leave a lasting mark.”
The retrograde date display is also complemented by the traditional tourbillon, clearly showing the watchmaking tradition in a functional, modern and avant-garde style.
Vacheron Constantin’s “open face” type display has a long history, dating back to a 1918 watch with openwork on part of the dial. This was a pocket watch with an astronomical calendar, which was innovative for its design at the time. Almost a century later, Vacheron Constantin turned to the concept of this open-work dial again, introducing Reference 47247 in 2002, marking the dawn of the millennium. On the occasion of the Maison’s 247th anniversary, this watch, limited to 247 pieces, features a 37mm platinum case with a retrograde date and a 6 o’clock day display, and openwork gives you plenty of views of the retrograde date mechanism. This watch also inherits Vacheron Constantin’s signature open-face spirit.
The successor to the early 2000s references 47245 and 47247, the Traditional Tourbillon Retrograde Date Open Face has a partially open-work retrograde dial, another characteristic of the Maison from the early 20th century.
(2) Patrimony Retrograde Day/Date
Featuring a platinum 950 case and salmon-coloured dial, the new Patrimony Retrograde Day/Date. This combination and design, which is representative of the Maison, can be found in various collections in limited annual production from 2022 onwards. On the outside, this 2023 limited edition model inherits technology on the inside, combining careful attention to detail, minimalism and technical excellence.
Reminiscent of the special and complex retrograde displays of the 1920s and 1930s, the minimalist design also evokes one of the principles of the German Bauhaus: “Less is more”.
The movement that drives the Patrimony Retrograde Day/Date is the in-house 2460 R31R7/3 self-winding calibre. It vibrates 28,800 times per hour and features an open-work 22K gold rotor inspired by the Maltese cross. The power reserve is about 40 hours, and the parts are carefully hand-finished with Perlage patterns on the sides, screws and sides, and the bridge is decorated with a Côte de Genève pattern, offering a glimpse of the essence of the Haute Horlogerie (a luxury horlogerie house).
(3) Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date
“Overseas” is equipped with a retrograde display for the first time. This feature is constantly evolving at Vacheron Constantin and has been included in many products.
The “Overseas” collection was born in 1996. Successor to Vacheron Constantin’s first sporty-chic watch, the 222, launched in 1977, the new Overse’s Moon Phase Retrograde Date is an important milestone in its technical characteristics combined with era and style.
It is equipped with calibre 2460 R31L/2, an in-house self-winding movement with a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. Symbolizing the age-old link between the fields of fine watchmaking and astronomy, the high-precision moon phase mechanism developed in the tradition of Vashunlong Constantin requires only one day’s error correction every 122 years. It took three years to develop this complex mechanism and the retrograde at the same time.
As a travel watch and a luxury sporty watch, a new retrograde has been devised to make this precision mechanism durable and shockproof, while fully conforming to the design and technical codes of the Overseas collection.