SIHH 2017: A Personal Journey

A Year of Serious Extremes?

This year's VC Novelties cover such extremes, from simple dial changes and cases in different metals to new MDA pieces to Piece Unique extravangazas!  While not every piece may be to your liking (or affordability blush)....there is something for everybody.

You will notice that this is my first Article on English THL, so don't be surprised if it is a little different...after all it is MY Personal Journey smiley

Overseas: 2-tone reimagined for 2017

The Overseas collection went through a major change last year.  This year adds a few unnanounced, aesthetic, changes to provide more options.  The case is stainless steel but the bezel is rose gold.  Depending on your age and tastes, it is reminiscent of either the 1930s/1940s or the 1970s cheeky

 

 

Overseas Small Model: minor changes can bring big effects

It's name is the Overseas Small Model and intended for women.  This model is 37mm in diamter and has a subsidiary seconds dial at 9 o'clock.  This year, VC made the small-seconds dial a different color. 

Surprisingly, the blue main dial with a grey sub-dial is my favorite "affordable" VC introduced at SIHHheart.  I'd have no qualms at all of wearing that one (remember the Gen. 1 OS Chronometer is also 37mm).

 

Patrimony: Retrograde is Back!

As many long-term Louingers know, my first VC was the Ref. 47245 with Retrograde date from 2000.  I love that watch because it is my first VC and it was a gift from my wife, but I recognize the base movement is based on a JLC ebauche. In 2007, VC came out with the Retrgrade Day/Date that used an in-house movement, but I didn't lilke the aesthetics of the Day indicators very much.

This year VC introduces the Patrimomuy Moon Phase and Retrograde Date. This model is based on the new inhouse movement, Cal. 2460 R31L and as opposed to buttons/push-pins on the sides of the case, all the functions are adjusted through the crown. yes  The moonphase only needs to be adjusted once in 122 years.

The dial is also extremely well-balanced and looks fantastic!

42.5mm in diameter and available in both Pink and White Gold.

 

The iconic and classic VC Patrimony Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar (using Cal. 1120 QP) now comes in one of my favorite combinations: Pink Gold case and Grey dial!

Traditionelle: Minute Repeater Tourbillon - pure and lust worthy

The minute repeater tourbillon is a combination of my two favorite complications.  This watch with its guilloche dial, movement finish, tourbillon AND minute repeater sound is truly a feast for both the eyes and ears!

Cal. 2755 TMR has a 58 hour power reserve indicator on the movement side, which has always made sense to me.  It utilizes the VC patented centripetal governor that eliminates the buzzing sound of older repeaters when chiming.

I think my grail would be an open-work version of this watch enlightened  (just a hint to VC...are you listening?)

The Traditionelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is now available in Pink Gold.  It still has that amazing, mouth-watering, engraved moonphase dial and utilizes the all in-house produced Cal. 1142 QP.

 

Métiers d’Art Villes Lumières: apparently there is more than one City of Lights!

Grand Feu enamel dials with luminous raindrops and other atmospheric elements made from gold grains, diamond and platinum powder, and pearl spangles.

The nightscapes of Geneva, Paris and New York have never looked better!

40mm diameter, WG case and Cal. 2460SC

 

Métiers d’Art Copernicus Celestial Spheres: The world revolves

While my watch world often revolves around VC, VC wants to remind people that Copernicus taught all of us that our world revolves around the Sun. cheeky

These 3 amazing dials are made using various Métiers d’Art crafts.  What they have in common are the sun in the center and the earth revolving in an elliptical orbit.  The Earth is also the hour indicator while the gold pointer shows the minutes.  The bezel is engraved with the 12 zodiac symbols.  The cases are 43mm in diameter and house the new Cal. 2460 RT. 

The two hands are gold triangular indicators.  The cut out indicator is hours and the solid indicator is minutes.  The earth rotates along it's elliptical orbit around the sun and is so accurate that it only needs a one-day adjustment in 8,000 years!

 

GRAND FEU ENAMELLING

The main dial of the first watch is made through Grand Feu enamelling and is based on the astronomical map drawn by Andreas Cellarius.  You can see the elliptical orbits of the 5 known planets of that time as well as the 12 astrological signs using polychrome enamel. 

 

ENGRAVING

The hand engraved zodiac dial is my personal favorite due to the color combination and 3-dimensional zodiacs that really pop out at you.

 

ENGRAVING ON SAPPHIRE CRYSTAL

The constellations on the crystal are first laser engraved and then hand engraved to highlight the motifs and play with the opalescence in order to create the amazing light reflecting effects.  Super-Luminova highlights are added to the constellations to give it a great shining effect.  The blue dial background is hand painted.

 

These pieces are onlh available at VC Boutiques.

 

 

VC's first Grand & Petite Sonnerie wristwatch!

VC introduces the Les Cabinotiers Symphonia Grande Sonnerie 1860, the first wristwatch version of this high-complication for the brand!

As usual with VC, the dial makes the watch look simple, classic and elegant, but the true nature of the watch includes many novelties. 

The 2-tone grey/silver dial has raised hour markers and lettering.  Small seconds is at 7 o'clock and there are two power reserve indicators (the larger, main PR inidicator is at 5 o'clock and the smaller, strikework PR indicator with a squiggly pointer is at 2 o'clock). 

The case is 45mm in diameter and made of WG.

The novelties start with the ability to select between Grand & Petit Sonnerie, or Silent.  On this watch, you select the setting by rotating the bezel to the desired indicator on the side of the watch!  It's as cool as it is subtle!cool

And if you are a pro-active in wanting to hear the time, the minute repeate function is actuated by the push button inside the crown!

This watch uses the new in-house Cal. 1860 is a fully integrated movement, meaning that the striking complications are not modules built on top of a base movement.  This type of design allows the movement to be more effiicient, which is critical because striking watches need to use a lot of energy.  There are two barrels, one dedicated to the movement and on dedicated to the strikig mechanism.  And this is why this manual winding watch is called a bi-directional winding movement:  winding it clockwise winds up the movement barrel while winding it counter-clockwise winds up the striking mechanism barrel.  The watch has a 72 hour power reserve for time keeping and 20 hours for the striking mechanism when set to Grand Sonnerie mode.

Cal. 1860 eliminates the pause in striking when there is no need for a quarter-strike.  So when it ring 9:10...there is no gap after the ninth hour strike and the first minute strike (this gap is often called "phantom quarters").  VC's silent centripetal governer is also used to eliminate the buzzing sound that can be heard in traditional striking watches.

Want more complications that can't be seen but are very practical?  (I call it self-preservation, aka idiot proofing...talk about a SMART watch! cheeky)  How about these:

- During time-setting, no chime can be sounded (whether in passing or on demand).

- When chiming is in progress, time-setting is impossible until the watch has finished striking.

- No new chiming operations can begin so long as another one is sounding.

- When a change of mode is made while a chime is in progress, it will only be activated once the previous chime is complete.

- If the winding barrel has almost wound down and there is not enough energy for the watch to chime regularly and perfectly right the way to the end of its sequence, the striking mechanism will not be activated.

Being designed from scratch, the designers decided to put the striking complication's components on the movement side (traditionally they are on the dial side) so they can be seen through the transparent case back.

The movement has 727 components and it takes 500 hours of work performed by a single, vastly experienced watchmaker.  Currently there is only one Master Watchmaker that can make this watch and another Master Watchmaker is currently in the middle of 6-months of training to be able to make this watch as well!

While the watch is "Piece Unique", it means that only one watch with this exact hands, dial, case configuration will be made.  It is expected that at most 3-4 Cal. 1860s can be produced in a year.  Each one of these watches will be a unique creation with different aesthetic features.

 

SIHH 2017's Piece de Resistance: Les Cabinotiers Celestia

What a watch and what a mouthful of a name:  Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600.

A celestial themed, one of a kind, masterpiece of a wristwatch.  The most complicated theme based watch that I can recall.  (There are other, more complicated watches in history but they are not to my knowledge as cohesive or aligned to any one specific theme).

This baby has 23-complications in a dual faced watch.  The movement, Cal. 3600, is a fully integrated movement with 514 components, 6 dual couple barrels provides 72 hours of power reserve.  It took ONLY 5 years to develop this movement surprise

The 3 functions/features that stand out for me are:

  1. The tropical gear that allows for a "Running Equation of Time".  This is a far more complicate system that allows instantaneous and continuous readings of the differences between solar and civil times.  The tropical gear and train system need to be extremely precise and exact in order to track the Earth making a full turn around the Sun and corresponding to 365.2421898 days.
  2. The Celestial chart on the "back side dial"  represented by two, super-imposed, sapphire discs representing projections of the ecliptic and the celestial equator.  Truly heavenly to see in person
  3. The mareoscope (a tide level indicator and a 3D depiction of the Earth-Moon-Sun alignment). Since tides are governed by physical laws and depend on the gravitational attraction and centrifugal forces of these three heavenly bodies...the ability to depict and measure the effects through purely mechanical means in a wristwatch is mind boggling to me.  As an aerspace engineer by education and training, this is too cool to be true! 

The watch is 45 mm in diameter and has a WG case.

KUDOS to the owner of this "Stellar" Piece Unique!!!

 

Last Words

I have to admit that when I first started to hear and read about this year's Novelties, I was a little disappointed.  It seemed that the only pieces being highlighted were the Piece Uniques that, while amazing, are out of reach of the average collector.  So while being unbelievable eye and brain candy, they are way out of reach.

But look at what is offered in terms of:

  • The OS and Patrimony for dial/case variations
  • The Patrimony Retrograde Lunar (and Haromony Complete Calendar introduced late last year)
  • Métiers d’Art Copernicus and Villes Lumières (as well as the Year of the Rooster watch introduced before SIHH)
  • The Patrimony and Traditionelle high complications (Perpetual, Perpetual Chrono, Minutre Repeater Tourbillon)

VC has really brought some great things to the table for everybody, some being introduced with a tremendous amount if attention and others much more quietly.  But it is all there for us to choose from, making this year's offerings pretty great and well-rounded.  Bravo VC!

01/20/2017 - 12:57
01/20/2017 - 21:44
01/20/2017 - 22:14
01/21/2017 - 20:28
01/24/2017 - 15:44
01/27/2017 - 15:08
Re: SIHH 2017: A Personal Journey
01/19/2017 - 21:49

Thanks Dan,

An excellent summary. And your closing comments give us all hope! smiley

Thanks JB, I'm hopeful too! (nt)
01/20/2017 - 02:54
+1 Joseph
01/28/2017 - 23:10

Really nice job Dan.

Thanks to all,

 

Tim

Thanks Tim! (nt)
01/29/2017 - 22:26
Re: SIHH 2017: A Personal Journey
01/20/2017 - 00:11

Thanks Dan

Great summary, Love the new VC watches introduced in SIHH, you forgot also the new Quai D Lile Steel with Blue Dial.

Cheers cool

Thanks Ahmad, I didn't see that one!
01/20/2017 - 02:53

I don't even remember hearing about it surprise

If what Ahmad is saying is true, then we have to wait for VC to slowly
01/20/2017 - 06:45

include on its website. Even the new OS versions are not included as yet. 

Welcome to the Lounge :-) the new QDI models will
01/20/2017 - 09:55

be announced at a later date, they were not part of the official SIHH launch but you obviously have access to secret info devilcool

Dan thanks for your excellent review. I too was initially disappointed
01/20/2017 - 06:41

when I heard about VC's new launches as they seemed to be ultra-high end. But then the more "normal and affordable" at least by VC standards - watches were revealed.

Yes, there is something for everybody.

I do not why the Overseas Small is being marketed as a ladies model. I somehow love the fact that there is no date and seconds at 9, and did mention last year that VC should make a mens version. Now without diamonds, and at 37m, it is wearable by many men, at least those with not too big a wrist.

Also, at approx a Million Dollars each, both the Celestial and Symphonia are great value for what one is getting...Compare the price of other brands grand complications and you see what I mean. Even within VC and also with Patek...If I am not mistaken, many of PP's grand complications are in the USD 300-400 bracket (minute repeater etc), and even VC's own are in a similar bracket, maybe lower depending on the watch. So relatively, one million for a astronomical watch with 23 complications is great value.

Great review. Now want to see some higher resolution live pics.

Among other brands, what were your favorites?

 

 

Thanks kk
01/20/2017 - 12:57

I think VC is hedging things a little bit by naming it "Overseas Small Seconds" so that the official name of the watch does not refer to being only for women, but it is for them - as you know when it first came out only with a diamond bezel. 

I like the Lepine design aspect of the crown at 3 and seconds at 9 too (and without a date window)!

This SIHH just put VC on a whole different stratosphere IMHO. I'm not a big fan of
01/20/2017 - 09:53

the Patrimony moonphase which I find rather bland, funny how just by taking the retrograde day hand away the whole balance falls appart!!

However the Copernicus models were just drop dead gorgeous and poetic, I think the engraved sapphire model is most probably my favorite watch of the show.

Thanks for the write up my friend :-)

Thanks Alex!
01/20/2017 - 12:59

My muted tastes like the retrograde lunar.   I think that's why I like the engraved Copernicus, but agree the blue sapphire dial one does keep on up at night!

Just not a fan of Moonphase with Date in general. The Patrimony
01/20/2017 - 16:37

Retrogade Moonphase is nowhere near as nice as the Patrimony Day-Date. Also, do not like the ALS Saxonia Moonphase with date; it looks quiet odd but there was lot of admiration for it. Moonphase with date works on the Lange 1.

Intellectually, Moonphase and Date function go hand in hand; but aesthetically difficult to pull it off IMHO.

Speaking of Moonphase, I sort of like the new Cartier Drive Moonphase - and also available in steel. 

Thanks Dan !
01/20/2017 - 21:44

A demonstration of Vacheron COnstantin capcity and know how on the super high end novelties and some interesting variations, the small overseas is quite appealing.

The Grande Sonnerie is a major step, the case stays simple at first sight, the dial is utterly beautiful and classy, although I wished it had stayed under 40mm. Still a fantastic achievement. I suppose the "Tivoli" developpment has done a lot for VC capacities smileycheers

Francois

Thanks Cisco
01/20/2017 - 22:14

You know, I thought the same thing about the Grand Sonnerie's heritage from Tivoli.

But I've asked more than one person, and they all say Cal. 1860 was developed completer independently and with no relationship at all to either the Tivoli or Cal. 1731 Minute Repeater.

Dan's "Last words"...
01/21/2017 - 20:28

Dan, I'm starting at the end before tackling the start, however, your summation, I feel, put your finger on it!  wink...

Anyway, back to the start;  first of all I like your first article on the English THL. You've tackled the 'coal-face' with conviction and it works in no small measure!

It has taken me sometime to work my way through all the copy, but let me tell you; it was worthwhile.

Some of the pieces (if not, the most) leave me breathless. The design concepts and the workmanship takes me into another orbit. Such beauty and craftsmanship is worthy of full praise.

Have a wonderfully successful show at SIHH.

With all good wishes and thanks

Tony

Thanks Tony! (nt)
01/22/2017 - 00:36
Re: SIHH 2017: A Personal Journey
01/23/2017 - 04:48

Thanks for your review.

Additional Overseas would allow customers to buy luxuary sports watches

according to their tastes.

io

 

Your welcome sir, agree with you
01/23/2017 - 11:59

The more OS options (and QDI options) will open the Brand up to new customers more easily.

Nothing but Net
01/24/2017 - 15:44

Dan that was a perfect shot (in a good way). You display and text were supurb and provided several more roads to the poor house for me.

 

Thank you Bill! (nt)
01/25/2017 - 23:36
Congratulations are in order, VC has officially taken its crown back
01/24/2017 - 16:50

Thank you for the write up Dan

Thanks Tourbillon, I totally agree
01/25/2017 - 23:38

VC kicked some booty this year! laugh

Awesome work, Dan!
01/27/2017 - 15:08

You had a great deal to cover and you did so magnificently.  Thank you!

I am blown away by the range and depth of VC's SIHH 2017 collection from the small Small-Seconds Overseas (It is a men's watch, period wink) to the most complicated wristwatch.  It is somewhat breathtaking when you consider all that was released, and I am sure that VC has a few more tricks up its sleeve this year.

  • I love the Small Seconds Overseas, and want to see this one in the metal to get a feel for the proportions, but I like the idea that there is such a size available now without diamonds.  It helps to fill out the Overseas line.
  • The two-tone Overseas is a really striking take on the two-tone concept, and I must say I find it surprisingly attractive.  Another I want to see in person.
  • The retrograde moon phase is one I have been waiting for, well, at least a simple moonphase piece.  I really like this one a lot, it is well balanced, pure, everything is set from the crown (!). My only hesitation on this piece is the size, which I wish were 38-40mm.  
  • The Traditionelle Minute Repeater is, well, pretty darn awesome, but again wish this one were smaller than 44mm.
  • The Copernicus trio is out of this world!  These are really extraordinary and to me seem to be THE highlight of the SIHH 2017.  Thye are all lustworthy and I would not be able to choose a favorte among them.
  • The sonnerie is a great accomplishment, especially with regard to all of the safety features.  But it is a big thick watch for such a beautiful and delicate complication, I feel.  
  • The Villes Lumieres are gorgeous works of art.  i want to see at least one of these at some point just to see if they are as beautiful in person as I imagine them to be.  
  • The Patrimony Perpetual Calendar in pink gold with slate gray dial is so elegant.  That combination of case and dial colors is unbelievable.  I have seen it in the 81180 and it is difficult to resist.  Add a perpetual calendar to it and I am on board!

Well, there you have my thoughts, not that anyone asked for them.  If there is a trend in my reactions, it is my familiar refrain that I would like to see the complicated watches coming in both thinner and smaller.  VC produces some beautiful thin and smaller proportioned pieces, and I think they do a good job offering sizes for every taste (e.g., the Patrimony line and now the Overseas line).  But I would like to see some complcated pieces in the 38-40mm range with nice slim cases.  

I think there was also a Collection Excellence Platine version of the 1110U announced or to  be announced.  is that correct?

Thanks again, Dan, for this superb report.

Robert

 

Thanks Robert, glad you liked it!
01/29/2017 - 22:34

I'm OK with the size and thickness of the Tourbillon Minute Repeater and the Grand & Petite Sonnerie as I'm guessing the internal volume inside the case helps with the acoustics?  (I know the 1731 is ultra-thin so my guess may mot be valid?)

I haven't heard or seen the CEP Ref. 1100U yet.  So if its out there, maybe it'll be introduced later this year?