SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey

I love this time of year. Not just because of the winter festivities, not because of snow and skiing and not even because I can eat all I want without caring about my belly getting bigger but because of the SIHH (Salon Internationale de Haute Horlogerie) opening from January 17-21.

This year’s SIHH also had a special taste for me as it was the 10th I was attending…and each year it gets better!

Following last year’s novelty bonanza Vacheron Constantin has taken a step back and introduced very few novelties, of which 4 out of 6 are pure new launches and not just case or dial variations.

2011 also sees the strengthening of Vacheron Constantin offerings in the mid complications range with the arrival of two new inhouse calibres: 2460QRA (annual calendar with retrograde date) and 2460WT (world time).

The Vacheron Constantin booth was this year dedicated to a golden age where travelling was made in style. The booth is what I imagine Pan Am’s first class lounge in the 50s would have looked like: old world charm, luscious luxury and the sweet smell of exotic adventures. 


We were greeted by the ever glamorous and charming Adrienne and Isabelle
 

 click on scans for larger view

SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey

Views from the booth
 

SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey

SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey

SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey

SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey

SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey

Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar:


Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar


A watch that will please those who love Vacheron Constantin’s classical designs and one that fills a gap in the VC collection as it has been close to 10 years that the brand had not offered a simple perpetual calendar with a full dial.
 

Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar

Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar

 

Reviving one of Vacheron Constantin’s iconic complications from the early 90s, this perpetual calendar shows both month and leap years on a 48-month cycle. This watch, while classic in style, boasts a 41mm rose gold Patrimony Contemporaine case adding modern flair with its sleek profile and taught lines. The designers have found a great way to not make the functions seem too close to the center by keeping the long indexes of the Patrimony Contemporaine models so that the periphery does not look overly empty. Another nod to the origins of this watch is the use of the superb Calibre 1120 (as was used in the 90s) with a newly redesigned rotor complete with a gyromax balance and the Geneva seal. 
 

Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar 1120

I like the thickness of the 8.9mm case and I love the moon phase which looks like a drop of golden mercury on a blue lapis lazuli background. The moon phase gives a 3D effect that I personally find really appealing. I like the elongated hands, the minute hand is right above the gold cabochons indicating the minutes and the hour hands right on the hour indexes. 
 

Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar

Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar

It will surely be a killer.

One drawback might be the month display which may be a bit difficult to read as one out of three months are indicated, for ex: Oct followed by 2 dots for Nov and Dec then Jan.


Quai de I’Ile Annual Calendar:

Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar

This new Quai de l’Ile houses the automatic in-house Calibre 2460 QAR, for which the watchmakers and engineers at VC have developed a brand new Annual Calendar complication featuring a moonphase, months and date which is via a retrograde hand which takes up a large part of the right hand side of the dial thus explaining the ex-centered moonphase and month indications. 
 

Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar


Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar

The case of the annual calendar has been beefed up 2 mm compared to the other QDI models (going from 41mm to 43mm) due to the fact that more space was needed for the date indication. 
 

Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar


The dials have a multi-layered construction consisting of a raised outer ring and satin-brushed inner circle with satin (but non-brushed) raised subdials and date arch, giving the impression of an industrial post-modern look. The dial also features 12 applied Arabic numerals and 6 baton markers with beautifully brushed surfaces and polished sides which provide a fascinating contrast. 
 

Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar Quai de l'Ile Annual Calendar

Currently two dial variations are offered opaline and slate grey, the latter being my favourite as I find it more daring

The Quai de l’Ile retrograde annual calendar is a great watch with a cool complication (especially the retrograde date), I do find the seconds hand and the month hand too short but overall it has a somewhat post modern look which has appeal even though I find it a shame that the signature transparent dial has been replaced by a full one which somehow “tames” the watch and takes away the edge the original models have.



Quai de I’Ile Day/Date:
This is a great year for the QDI with new dials and an annual calendar.

The 2011 novelty for the Day/Date and automatic models is the full dials with a subtle blend of satin finishing and silver toned opaline. Unfortunately this version doesn’t do it for me, maybe if I hadn’t seen the open dial I would think differently, but this full dial looks too industrial and overly engineered. I loved being able to see the superb finish of the top plate mechanism of Calibre 2475. These new dials were shown to certain retailers who loved them so I guess I simply don’t see the commercial side.

The dials come in two variations: opaline silver and slate grey. The case is available in palladium, rose gold, titanium or any mix thereof as the owner can personalise the watch to his/her desires. 
 

Quai de l'Ile Day Date

Quai de l'Ile Day Date Quai de l'Ile Day Date

Quai de l'Ile Day Date

Quai de l'Ile Day Date Quai de l'Ile Day Date
Quai de l'Ile Day Date

Quai de I’Ile Automatic:
My thoughts here are similar to those regarding the QDI Day/Date but the fact that the transparent date ring between the inner dial and outer dial has kept the twist of the open dial versions I like it better. It’s surprising how a dial can change everything, and with this new dial, especially with the opaline version, the QDI actually looks like a dress watch!



Quai de l'Ile

Quai de l'Ile Quai de l'Ile
Quai de l'Ile

Quai de l'Ile Quai de l'Ile



Les Historiques 1954 Aronde:



 

Les Historiques 1954 Aronde

 


One thing you have to credit VC for is the fact that it keeps coming up with names few can understand let alone pronounce, so after the Quai de l’Ile and the Métiers d’Art Maki-e La Symbolique des Laques, let me present the Aronde, a name which even a French speaker like me does not understand (more on this later).

But let’s not bad mouth what is a fantastic design. VC continues digging into its (extremely rich) history with this new Historiques 1954 (as its name implies it is inspired by a watch from 1954). The pink gold rectangular case (a form which has not been used by Vacheron Constantin for a long time) is superbly crafted with an extremely original double rounded curve along the case flanks with a series of brushed and polished surfaces accentuated by a strongly cambered sapphire crystal. 
 

Les Historiques 1954 Aronde Les Historiques 1954 Aronde
Les Historiques 1954 Aronde

The 1950s automobile/industrial designs of the 50s is obvious in this piece and the designers at VC have one again managed to create a very modern timepiece whilst being faithful to the original design. 

 

Les Historiques 1954 Aronde Les Historiques 1954 Aronde


The dial is gracefully divided into four sections with a vertical guillochage between 9-12, a horizontal guillochage between 12-3, a vertical guillochage between 3-6 and again a horizontal guillochage between 6-9.

The rose gold case measures 44.5 in length and 31.2 in width and is the perfect size, not too large nor too small, the light reflects beautifully on the case highlighting the extreme and painstaking work which has been undertaken in crating the different curves and finishes. My only complaint would be that I would have liked a bombé dial instead of a flat one. 
 

Les Historiques 1954 Aronde


The Aronde houses the sublime calibre 1400 which is hidden under a solid case back

Les Historiques 1954 Aronde


The name Aronde is an old French word for a swallow whose wings resemble the case flanks, thus the Historiques 1954 Aronde.


Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time:

Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time


THE watch of the show! A world time has been awaited impatiently by the Vacheronistas for decades! And the wait was worth every single moment as this watch is nothing short of astounding and achingly beautiful.

In the works for almost 3 years the world time module is a fully inhouse development and uses the cal 2460 as base movement, now called 2460WT.
 

Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time


The Patromony Traditionnele Worldtime has many novel features never seen in other similar models 2 of which have been patented.

The first world premiere is that the watch indicates the world’s 37 time zones, including those offset by a half or quarter-hour. For example, it provides the correct time indication for Caracas, Venezuela, a country that decided in 2007 to switch from a full time zone to a half time zone (GMT – 4:30). 
 

Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time

To be able to count for the timezones with 15 or 30 minute increments the minute hand is also linked to the time zone disc! In regular time zone watches only the hour hand is geared to the time zone disc thus only countries within the 24 full hour time zones can be included (ie; each time a timezone is chosen the disc and hour hand jump by one hour), whereas in the Vacheron Constantin world time the minute hand also gears with the time zone disc thus enabling the inclusion of countries in 15, 30 and 45 minute time zones and therefore offering 37 time zones instead of 24 as seen in other worldtime watches. 
 

Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time


Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time


The dial is also a feat in its self, it consists in fact of 3 levels: a sapphire dial with unique day/night shading, a metal dial with a “Lambert projector” type map and a metal chapter ring. The shaded sapphire dial rotates with the hands as to indicate which part of the world is ready to go to bed and which part is having its morning coffee. 

 

Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time



The rose gold 42.5mm case sits well on a wrist (even smaller ones) due to the short downturned lugs. A lot of attention to detail has gone into this watch and if you take a closer look at the hour hand you will see that it is shaped like an aeroplane, another interesting feature is that all functions are set via the crown.

                            *********************************************************************
In my ten years of SIHH attending all I can say that each year Vacheron Constantin outdoes itself. 10 years ago amongst 10 new watches there was maybe one or two that I liked but today it really is difficult for me not to like these pieces, you really feel when looking at them and holding them that a lot of though, effort but most of all passion has gone in their creation. Each year Vacheron Constantin goes up a new step in both horological excellence with designs that hit the right cordes.

View main post only
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/18/2011 - 12:01
Great read Alex. - How thick is the World Time, in relation to a regular Patrimony or QDL? - What price bracket would it fall into?
the WT is 11mm thick and price is euro 29k (excluding VAT and tax)
01/21/2011 - 12:42
e
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/18/2011 - 12:23

The Patrimony Traditionnelle Worldtime is simply the most elegant and complete worldtime watch ever made!

the WT was the talk of the show!
01/21/2011 - 12:42
e
Have a very successful time at SIHH
01/18/2011 - 13:55
A wonderful, enlightening, despatch of some very exciting additions.  Kindly extend my good wishes to our HL colleagues in attendance. Best wishes, Tony
maybe you can join us next time Tony?
01/21/2011 - 12:43
e
Alex, that sounds like a ggod idea - I would love to join you at SIHH!
01/21/2011 - 16:58
e
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/18/2011 - 13:58
Nice watches, but to be true I get no shock like American 1921 or ultra thin 1955 or Patrimony Chronograph in White Gold. Just a matter of taste, I am more into 36mm in white metals. _The World Time is great, the dial, the case, the system with the crown, everything is perfect. The size is modern which is not my taste but I understand. That gives it a lot of presence, I am sure it will be a success. _The QDI have beautiful dials, the product itself is great but I miss the modern transparent dial with High Tech and poetic printing. _The Contemporaine perpetual calendar, is the one I liked the most, I love this case, the complication and the caliber are beautiful. One of the most beautiful classical perpetual calendar on the market. _The 1954 is also a beauty, a sculpture, the movement even not of rectangular shape is the beautiful 1400, the dial is fantastic and so the case. Again too much presence for my taste, but as a rectangular watch, it's a killer !
the Patrimony Contemporaine QP got a lot of positive comments
01/21/2011 - 12:44
e
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/18/2011 - 17:06
Beautiful report!
thank you Vito :-)
01/21/2011 - 12:45
e
The booth is really nice.
01/18/2011 - 17:47
I always have a thing for old posters and globes. It's like 1930's adventure scene. The offerings this year I think are top notch! Thanks Alex for the excellent write up
the booth was an invitation to exotic adventures!
01/21/2011 - 12:46
e
What a World Timer!!!
01/18/2011 - 18:15
Gorgeous, superbly laid out, mechanically unique, & more I could gush about if I had the time right now.  I love the day & night shading.  And I've always noted no previous world timers accounted for the fractional hour differences around the world.  I've visited friends in Sri Lanka where there is a 1/2 hour offset & no watch before was set up to handle this variation. WoW!!!  I am impressed.  The watch is stunning!!!  VC does it again.  I also love the Aronde.  Classic simplicity with beautiful lines.  Wish it had a sapphire case back, but I can clearly see this watch strapped to my wrist.  Nicholas
you're a man of taste Nicholas :-)
01/21/2011 - 12:46
e
Thank you
01/19/2011 - 00:59
I love your "personal Journey reports.  So, VC has been hard at work, I see.  I can't wait to see the World Time in person, if ever I get the chance.  It seems to me that this is the most difficult complication to get right both technically and artistically.  I have yet to see a perfectly designed and executed world timer -- just my opinion, of course.  But this one comes close.  From what I am reading here, this new VC technically may be a category killer.  To be able to cover all 27 time zones and to do everything with just one crown is simply astounding.  Most world timers suffer from readability issues, and I am not sure this one addresses that adequately.  But I would reserve judgement on that until I see one in the metal.  Overall, I do think it is just beautiful.  I am glad that there is no date.  What's on the dial right now is enough.    This is a very exciting addition to the PT lineup.   And I am finally starting warm up to the QDI's, thanks to the full dials.  The day date and the automatic are really interesting pieces.   The Aronde is the sexiest watch so far.  Do they give awards in that category? Thanks for this great report. Best, respo
thanks Respo!
01/21/2011 - 12:47
e
A marvellous presentation of a collection of outstanding watches!
01/19/2011 - 02:24
Fantastic collection, as Alex writes, Vacheron Constantin's presentation has never been of this caliber (!) before in our time! 1954 is really a heart beater And so are all the others too, and I also notice two charming art deco posters, from Monte Carlo, perhaps... I miss not being there, with you my friends! Have a good time all of you, I'll think of you Doc
thank you Doc, those whose saw the 1954 immediately thought of you :-)
01/21/2011 - 12:48
e
A marvellous presentation of a collection of outstanding watches!
01/19/2011 - 02:24
Fantastic collection, as Alex writes, Vacheron Constantin's presentation has never been of this caliber (!) before in our time! 1954 is really a heart beater And so are all the others too, and I also notice two charming art deco posters, from Monte Carlo, perhaps... I miss not being there, with you my friends! Have a good time all of you, I'll think of you Doc
Thank you very much for the great report Alex
01/19/2011 - 06:01
As usual your report on SIHH is the most awaited event in my January calendar and, as usual, it was worth the wait.  Thanks again, Jefe! As to this season's novelties, I would have to say that the WT really is the star of the show.  I love the dial a lot.  My only concern is its size (diameter and thickness)...that is of course relative to my wrist size. The Contemporaine QP is also a welcome addition to the line up. One surprise for me is the 1954 Aronde (I wish VC had been able to get a copyright on the "Lips" monicker.  It is so much sexier...and easier to say!).  Anyway, after seeing it in WG in Japan, I was actually a bit cold to it.  However, I think RG really brings out its sexiness (of course I am biased to RG).  Really nice. Best regards! Kazumi
the RG of the 1954 gives more warmth to the dial as well, hope
01/21/2011 - 12:49
you can join us next time Kazumi
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/19/2011 - 06:58

Thanks Alex for another outstanding report Have to see the world time in the metal  Wish it was thinner

I like thin dress watches

The perpetual is another winner

thanks Tim, the QP is a real stunner!
01/21/2011 - 12:50
e
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/19/2011 - 11:31
Alex thank you for the great report. It is a consolation for us who can not be there. Amazing and long anticipated world timer. Please explain us how easy it is to change the time forward and backwards when you change time zone. Also reveal the price but slowly and preferably at a moment that my wife will not watch. I really like the Les Historiques 1954 Aronde it reminds me Doc's amazing art deco watch It seems that 2011 will be another good year for Vacheron. I hope it will be for all of you as well. I know it will be for me. My wife is pregnant and we are expecting twins . George
congratulations George! Get ready for those sleepless nights :-)
01/21/2011 - 12:51
e
VC has now a complete collection, in fact, a NBA all star line-up.....
01/19/2011 - 14:20
the collection is definitely formidable in a short span of time, what a feat! i guess the following years will be even more exciting with the refinements and upgrades, like the awaited in house chronograph, which i have not forgotten.  these savouries will need some time for degustation... for the time being, my favourite is the world timer. thank u for yr precious time amid your tight schedule in SIHH to write this journal, i definitely enjoyed the pampering of the first hand scoop of real life pics in my absence at the salon. one day, i will be at the candy shop.   
you will be able to see them very soon in the flesh, stay tuned
01/21/2011 - 12:52
.
Great report Alex, thank you very much!
01/19/2011 - 17:46
I think the World Timer is fantastic! Best, Mike
thank you Mike :-)
01/21/2011 - 12:52
e
Thank you Alex for another great article
01/20/2011 - 13:26
Your "SIHH Personal Journey" articles are always my favorite...  Great pictures, as always, they really bring to life the new releases. I agree with all, the WT is superb, the Star of the Show! Cheers,  Francois
missed you at the HL event buddy, hopefully next time
01/21/2011 - 12:53
e
Next year I'll make sure to be better organized and be there!
01/21/2011 - 16:02

nt.

Thank you for the report and photos
01/20/2011 - 18:14
It is always a pleasure to read your thoughts on the novelties and especially to see the live photos. Bill
nice Avatar Bill ;-) thank you for the kind words
01/21/2011 - 12:53
e
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/21/2011 - 17:53
Alex, Thank you so much for being such a fantastic host despite your flu. I hope you're all better now. And  a great thank you to the gracious and lovely people at Vacheron for showing us such a wonderful time at the Maison and at the Manufacture. It was really fabulous! The workshop idea was wonderful and I think gave us all an appreciation of the complexity involved in watches. And seeing some of the staff again such as Jeanne Ullrich and Christian LeFrancois (spelling?  apologies) was a reasl treat. People could not have been kinder or more considerate. And of course seeing all my friends again (I won't name names because I'm sure with my pathetic memory, I'll miss someone) was a highlight! I'll be heading home tomorrow and will try to sort out my photos en route so I can postthem in a day or two. Merci a tous et a la prochaine, Joseph
as I always say the virtual world is great but the
01/22/2011 - 11:55
Real experience is always best. Glad you enjoyed everything :-)
What a night, what a glorious evening and just a quick look at
01/21/2011 - 19:55
Alex in his element. (Without the hats, which I am sure will be coming at some point) It was an incredible dinner, wonderful wine and the presentation was top flight. Christian and Alex worked as a team to update and educate the guests and Hour Loungers. There will be many more reports and pictures but I just wanted to personally thank Alex, Christian and the entire staff that supported the event with a Bravo! A great time was had by all and a permenant memory has been created. Many, many thanks. Tim
it is thanks to you and all the Loungers who make these
01/22/2011 - 11:58
Events so special
One more great picture of Dean, contemplating when he is going
01/22/2011 - 02:48
to surprise us with the hats! I think the expression says it all! Cheers, Tim
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/22/2011 - 23:49
Beautiful coverage Alex.  Thank you!
glad you enjoyed it :-)
01/23/2011 - 19:53
x
No one does it better than you, Alex!
01/23/2011 - 23:20
Thanks for the report and your personal view of this year's SIHH and VC's novelties Great new pieces except for the new versions of QdI - sorry to say. World Time and the Historiques 1954 Aronde are my favorites but the best experience, of course, was meeting fellow Loungers in person: two Garys, the incredible Tim and his beautiful Patrimony Chrono, Dan and amazing Dean. Joseph, Lin and Alex my "old" Lounge buddies - it was great to see you all and share our passion!!!  
Radek buddy was great seeing you and agree on your choices and tastes
01/24/2011 - 10:44
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/24/2011 - 00:31
Thank you for sharing, Alex : ) Love the World Time big blue and the guillochage on 1954 Aronde's dial, QDIs are as cool as always! Have noticed the new look of Hour Lounge ~ a bit late to say: every feature is great, including the lay-out, the auto sign-in..."top 5" is actually going to yield more traffic, well done!
Re: Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
01/24/2011 - 00:49
It wasn't auto sign-in  sorry guys! i just forgot to log out i guess it happens in the Hour Lounge ; )
thanks for the kind words KL andgood thing you don't log out :-)
01/24/2011 - 10:49
ee
QdL Day Date in titanium with grey dial and rubber
01/24/2011 - 11:14
strap is a great looking watch, as is the WT - an impressive piece of machinery as well as looking like a classy WT... As always Alex, the VC team did it better than anyone else for their collectors... the VC touch doesn't exist anywhere else. The 'booth' looked fantastic, the hospitality and arrangements were faultless (the movement assembly opportunity confirmed everything I already knew about my watchmaking potential - I broke 2 pinions I'm afraid!! - Sorry Hubert and Jerome!) I agree with Radek (and you as well and some other Loungers present as well I think) that the QdL has now lost it's way somewhat... but customers kind of asked for it i guess... Awesome SIHH and VC trip - the best yet and I couldn't thank you enough. But - Thanks Much! Radek - learn some new jokes for the next trip and you get your own slot on the Agenda... electric fence - that is going round and round! G
Re: SIHH 2011 A Personal Journey
05/04/2011 - 19:17
The world time is extraordinary