It is no secret that Vacheron Constantin stole the show at last year’s Watches & Wonders fair. They reworked one of their historical icons, the 222, to huge acclaim. In yellow-gold, and with seventies charm and proportion, it was an instant hit, and spotted subsequently on the wrists of notables from Michael B. Jordan to Brad Pitt. I had the pleasure of visiting Vacheron Constantin at their Geneva headquarters this year to get a glimpse of what’s to come. Boy, was I excited, and it didn’t disappoint. I was greeted by Vacheron’s charming Director of Heritage and Style, Christian Selmoni, who is arguably the best-dressed man in all of watches. He proudly proclaimed that 2023 would be the year of the retrograde. For the uninitiated, ‘retrograde’ hands sweep a segment of a circle before springing back to their initial position, to begin their movement again.
First is the Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date open face. This is a watch that celebrates the juxtaposition of avant- garde aesthetic and technical haute horology. A 41mm dress- watch made in pink-gold, it is equipped with an in-house self- winding movement combining a tourbillon with a retrograde date display on an openworked dial. As you would hope when you show everything off, the finishing is sublime. Every edge is finished by hand. It is a tour de force. While it is not a limited edition, these watches will be limited in production.
Next up is a new complication to the wildly successful TEMPORAL Overseas line: a moon-phase retrograde date Overseas, the first retrograde display in the collection. A 41mm steel case surrounds an in-house calibre 2460 R31L/2, combining a retrograde date and a high-precision moon phase. Dial side, it is impossible not to fall for the deep-blue lacquered and sunburst satin-brushed finish. Incredibly, the moon phase requires only a one-day correction every 122 years. The complication, known as the age of the moon, corresponds to the cycle of the heavenly body that completes one full rotation around the Earth (‘new moon to new moon’) in exactly 29 days, 12 hours and 45 minutes. The retrograde date indication by the central hand occupies the upper part of the dial. For enhanced user-friendliness, all adjustments are done via the crown: winding, correction of the date and moon phases, and setting the time.
Finally, the Patrimony Retrograde Day Date. Is there a better combo than the heft of platinum and a salmon dial? A 42.5mm-diameter 950 platinum case frames the dial with ‘punchy in daylight’ sunburst finish. The development of coloured dials from the 1930s onwards allowed manufactures such as Vacheron Constantin to celebrate a more flamboyant elegance. Notable references from the back catalogue are the chronograph Ref. 4178, the classic chronograph Ref. 47101, and the 1992 self-winding perpetual calendar chronograph Ref. 49005. The spirit of the new Patrimony Retrograde Day Date draws its aesthetic and technical inspiration from tradition. It is driven by an in-house self- winding calibre 2460 R31R7/3 operating at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour. It is fitted with a 22k gold openworked oscillating weight with a design inspired by the Maltese cross, and it has a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. In the grand tradition of in-house calibres, the bridges are finished with hand-polished angles.
Read the full Vacheron Constantin feature in Issue 87, available to purchase on TheRake.com and on newsstands worldwide now.
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