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As As seen in Part 1(here) Vacheron Constantin embraced full calendar wrist watch quite early on (in 1929) but few models were made prior to the 40s. However the brand switched to turbo mode in the early 40s with the launch of the ref 4240 which with the subsequent variants became over time an icon.
Launched in 1942, ref 4240 came in different case and dial variations. The 35mm case is 3 part stepped with claw lugs, day and month are indicated via apertures and the date via a central hand. Ref 4240 was produced in yellow or rose gold case and in a rarer two tone case either in steel with rose gold lugs or steel with yellow gold lugs. Used calibres 485.
Same model as ref 4240 but with moonphase indication, which explains the L (for Lune which means moon in French). The 35mm case was available in yellow gold or steel. Used calibre 495.
Also launched in 1942 reference 4241 has the exact same indications as ref 4241 but with a slightly larger case:35.5mm and tear drop lugs. The watch was made in yellow gold, rose gold and steel. A special version of this reference was also made with hooded bar lugs.
Vacheron Constantin continued making pocket watches at that era and ref 4297 launched in 1944, is a beautiful perpetual calendar on a 48 months cycle, moon phase and minute repeater.
Launched in 1945, this reference has the same case as ref 4241 but with an integrated Milanese bracelet and no lugs. This model was made in either yellow or rose gold and housed calibre 485.
Ref 4444 / 6526
Launched in 1946 as ref 4444 it changed reference numbers in 1962 and became ref 6526. This pocket watch features a perpetual calendar on a 48 month cycle, a moonphase indicator, a minute repeater as well as a chronograph.
Launched in 1947 ref 4461 has a beautiful case with amazing horn shaped lugs. The 33.7 mm case is smaller than the 4240L with which it shares all the functions. This watch was made in yellow and rose gold.
With the now habitual dial configuration, ref 4462 was launched in 1948 and with an even smaller case measuring a mere 32.5mm. This watch was made in yellow and rose gold.
Launched in 1949, ref 4560 came with or without moonphase. Vacheron Constantin returned to a larger case size at 35.5mm and extremely detailed lugs. This watch was made in yellow and rose gold.
Launched in 1950 the case seems flattened out with its bevelled bezel and horn shaped lugs directly placed on said bezel. The 32.5mm case came in yellow and rose gold.
Launched in 1952 this watch also known under its nickname Cioccolatone (named as such by the Italian collectors due to its resemblance to a piece of chocolate) was huge (to the standards of the time) with its 36mm x 43mm. Made in yellow gold and some rare models in pink gold with the occasional and exceptionally rare platinum case, housing cal 495.
Vacheron Constantin continued making pocket watches in the 50s, one perfect example being this ref 6010 from 1955 with perpetual calendar on a 48 month cycle and moonphase display.
Also launched in 1955 this model has the same functions as ref 6010 but with a different case.
A triple date with moonphase indication minute repeater ref 4293, the movement was made in 1943 but only cased in a rather large (for the time) 38mm rose gold case, and sold in 1957. According to Vacheron Constantin archives two models were to be made but only one actually left the ateliers.
No new multi calendar watches were introduced until the ealy 80s. Vacheron Constantin management believed in the return if the mechanical complicated timepiece and launched its 1st modern perpetual calendar in 1983. Ref 43031 was a tribute to the brand’s perpetual calendar pocket watches especially with its 48 month cycle. This model came in yellow gold or platinum and housed the extra thin cal 1120.
Wishing to launch a craft it had been known to master, Vacheron Constantin created in 1984 a skeletonised version of the ref 43031, in platinum or yellow gold.
Launched in 1987 is similar to ref 43032 but with a 16 sided bezel.
In 1987 the brand launched a day/date model in an original stepped case, which came in either yellow gold or a two tone yellow gold/steel and housed cal 1126 QS (for Quantième Simple – simple date)
1987 was a prolific year as the brand also launched a day/date with moonphase model in both yellow gold or yellow gold/steel case.
Rapidly ref 46008 was replaced by ref 47008 in 1989 which had the same day/date functions but a different case and a guilloche dial. The watch came only in yellow gold.
The same year (1989) ref 46009 was replaced by ref 47009 which had the same day/date with moonphase functions but came in a different case, only available in yellow gold.
Launched in Les Historiques model range in 1990 this watch is an obvious tribute to the famous 4140 from the 40s wuth the same day and month indications via apertures on the dial, date on the periphery of the dial and moonphase indicator. Made in wither yellow gold or platinum it housed the manual winding calibre 1150. Very few of these pieces were made.
Also in Les Historiques model range this model is the same as the ref 37150 above but with an automatic 1126 caliber, housed in a yellow gold or platinum case and launched in 1992.
Vacheron Constantin’s first perpetual calendar chronograph, it was launched in 1992 and remained on catalogue for ten years until 1992. It was part of the “7 marvels” concept of 1992 where Vacheron Constantin launched 7 watches each representing a technical or artistic prowess: extra flat, minute repeater, tourbillon, skeleton, gem set Kalla, pocket watch with enamel painting and this ref 49005 which represented “astronomical” time. Housing calibre 1136 QP the perpetual calendar module was made inhouse by Vacheron Constantin. Made in 500 rose gold pieces and less than 300 platinum pieces.
The late 80s saw the revival of the mechanical watch after the quartz crisis who almost sealed the fate of the Swiss watch industry, brands were starting to recover and Vacheron Constantin came limping our of the quartz crisis decided to regain the summits and to do so by adding one of the most complex complications to its collection: the minute repeater.
In 1998/1999 the brand started working on this gargantuan project, assigned to two men: Marcel Goy, Vacheron Constantin’s then Technical Director and Gerald Dubois, of Dubois-Depraz, the movement manufacturer. The goal was to recreate a mythical movement in line with the amazing extra flat repeater movement the brand had used in the 40s.
One must understand the challenge that this task posed, not only the original plans and drawings of that calibre were no longer available and due to the quartz crisis the industry was lacking a whole generation of watch makers, constructors, engineers etc… possessing the know how and capable of working on such projects. Vacheron Constantin had to start from zero and it was a trial and error process by taking apart a vintage movement, studying it and trying to rebuild it.
One of the main difficulties, other than keeping the calibre thin, was building the perfect gongs capable of rendering not only a loud strike but also a pure and crisp chime. Legend doesn’t say if the gongs were dipped in horse urine as was done in the 18th century to harden them but in any event the magic formula was found.
Vacheron Constantin also experimented other ways in obtaining the best acoustics and this path took the brand to adapting the cases individually to each movement making the two inseparable (a movement could have a phenomenal chime in a case it was adapted for and a so-so chime in another).
In 1992 the calibre 1755 was introduced including a perpetual calendar in yellow gold platinum. The 3.28 mm repeater movement now measuring 4.9 mm with the extra perpetual calendar module.
In a 36mm case it was a tribute to the fantastically beautiful tear drop lug repeaters it had gotten its inspiration from, the perpetual calendar was also very traditional in its implementation and inspired from Vacheron Constantin’s pocket watches where the months are given on a 4 year period without an extra hand for the leap year.
Another watch inspired by historical pieces from the 50s with horn lugs, this watch launched in 1992 was a special 25 piece limited edition made for the Japanese market. The date is indicated at 6 o’clock and power reserve indicator at 12. The case was available in either yellow gold or platinum and housed cal 1190.
Also launched in 1992 and with the same indications as ref 48100 above, this model in the Complications model range came in a different case available either in yellow or white gold.
Part of the Complications collection this beautiful perpetual calendar pocket watch was launched in 1993 but available only upon order. Made in yellow gold it housed calibre 1705QP. Am open dial version of this model was also available.
Launched in 1994 in the Complications model range, this watch had the particularity of indicating not only the day/date and phases of the moon but also the week number on the periphery of the dial. A version without moonphases was also available under ref 47053. These watches were made in either white or yellow gold and housed the calibre 1126Q52.
Made in 1995 in celebration of the brand’s 240th anniversary (thus the 240 in the reference number), in yellow gold, white gold and platinum housing calibre 1127.
Part of the Historiques collection and launched in 1999 it is a tribute to ref 4140 a triple calendar without moonphase. The case was available in yellow and white gold and housed cal 1126.
Launched in 2000 the “245” as it is habitually called was the first of a long list of Vacheron Constantin pieces with a retrograde date indicator. This piece with a gorgeous curvy case and strong muscular lugs featured a retrograde date, the day being indicated at 6 o’clock. The 245 was made in rose gold, white gold and platinum and housed cal 1126QR (for Quantieme Retrograde – retrograde date). For the anecdote the 245 in the reference number refers to the brand’s age at time of launch.
Ref 47112 Malte Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Vacheron Constantin’s first manual wind perpetual calendar chronograph, launched in 2000 as one of the new Malte collection centrepieces. One of the major and most beautiful features of this watch is its engraved moonphase disc which Vacheron Constantin continued using in the Tour de l’Ile mega complication and in the most recent Patrimony Traditionnelle perpetual calendar chronograph and has become in some ways a Vacheron Constantin signature. Housing calibre 1141QP this model was made in yellow gold and platinum an in production until 2006-2007.
Part 3 to follow....
names such as Patek and Audemars ( 20-30 years ago there were no contenders to these 3!) but the quality has really gone up with the inhouse movements starting the 2000s
VC has always demonstrated a unique combination of creativeness, innovation and elegance. This period is probably the most fascinating one ! Thanks Alex for this very well documented page of history. See you soon Bernard
not a reference book