Vacheron Constantin and the Tonneau 100 Years of Creativity Part 3

The mid 1930 to the mid 1950s saw the decrease in the popularity of the tonneau shape. Both brands and collectors were interested in sleeker industrial design shapes such as the rectangle or square.

The tonneau shape  made a more a rapid appearance rather than a comeback from the mid 50s til the end of the 60s. However the designs Vacheron Constantin launched were completely out of the world and creativity was pushed to the maximum .  Lines are sleek, angles sharp yet the dials remain extremely sober with markers and no longer numerals.

In the 1960s London was in swing and Vacheron Constantin’s tonneau shapes with it.
Please note that I do not have much information on the metals the watches in this article were made of and are given as an indication until I can get fuller information.

1950 - Ref 6070

The 50s style is overtly present in this piece with its pinch of cushion shape. For a fitst the dial is also guilloche. Made in yellow and white gold housing caliber 453.

Ref 6070

Cal 453


1955 – Ref 6072

Similar to the model above in both shape and guillochage, it has a center seconds as opposed to the subseconds of Ref 6070. Made in yellow and white gold it houses caliber 454.

Ref 6072

Cal 454

1961 – Ref 6589

On the Lounge the Chronometre Royal ref 6694 was dubbed the “Batman”, with reference 6589 we can add another  super hero character to dub this ref 6589: the “Catwoman” due to its pointed lugs which look like two cat's ears!
Made in yellow and white gold it houses the slim caliber 1001

Ref 6589

Vacheron Constantin and the Tonneau 100 Years of Creativity  Part 3

1963 – Ref 6627

A slim tonneau with large bezel typical of the 60s. Made in yellow and white gold housing the extra slim caliber 1003.

Ref 6627

Vacheron Constantin and the Tonneau 100 Years of Creativity  Part 3


1963 – Ref 6627/l

I love the textured circular decoration of the dial and the crown placed within the bezel gives this timepiece extreme character.  Made in Yellow and white gold it also houses the extra slim caliber 1003.

Ref 6627/L

1963 – Ref 6891

Where the dial remains quite tame the weave pattern decoration on the rather wide bezel gives the watch a certain twist. Made in yellow and white gold it houses the extra slim calibre 1003.

Ref 6891

1964 – Ref 6983

What a design! Also called a “tonneau carré” (square tonneau)This model would have look perfect on Goldfinger’s  wrist, the casework may you like or dislike it is a work of art in itself with its chiseled facettes. Made in yellow gold it houses the extra slim caliber 1003.

 Ref 6983

1964 – Ref 6984

Another clever design, the case is in fact has a downward bevel on each side and has an amazing “hammered” pattern on the case which in a very funky and creative way also surrounds the date indicator. Ref 6984 is the first Vacheron Constantin tonneau watch to house an automatic movement: caliber 1072. Made in yellow gold.

Ref 6984 

Vacheron Constantin and the Tonneau 100 Years of Creativity  Part 3
photo courtesy of Tic-Talk

1967- Ref 7253

Also called “demi tonneau” (half tonneau), the case is much tamer than the previous creations of the Geneva brand. Extremely sleek with its slim bezel and applied markers, made in yellow and white gold it cases caliber 1001.

Ref 7253


1967 – Ref 7460
Interesting in its very straight lines for a tonneau watch this model made in yellow and white gold, housing the caliber 1001 was the last before the hige return of the tonneau starting the mid 1990s
Ref 7460

1971- Ref  45003  (previously Ref. 2045)

Housing cal 1121 and made in yellow and white gold

Ref 45003 – (previously Ref 2045)

to read Part 4 click here

10/04/2012 - 13:21
Just love your articles where you have been digging in the archives. Yours sincerely Kent PS. I f you are interested in a picture of the Ref 2019 A with a black dial and the cal 1014 for the follow up (going into the 70s), then I can take some pictures of my watch.  Feel free not to use the pictures if you think the quality is to low.
oh yes! Please do send, I hadn't any info on this one I'll update
10/04/2012 - 13:45
the current article with your watchyes Thanks for the kind words
Wow, can't wait for the next chapter!
10/04/2012 - 18:20
While not every style holds up well over the passage of time, the creativity and willingness to be out front in terms of design is soooo appealing in watches of this period.  The 6984 is exceedingly clever; I can't recall having seen a date window integrated into the bezel like that before.
The Tonneau comes with a bang in the late 90s, Part 4 will be huge!
10/05/2012 - 15:30
Catwoman is a fantastic design both case and dial wise...
10/04/2012 - 21:01
dial is cleverly executed and hence it is easily readableyes My favorite of the batch
Love it too !
10/05/2012 - 15:30
Thanks Alex, I looooove the creativity of that periode !
10/04/2012 - 22:41
The hammered with date is fantastic , and so is the catwoman ! cheers Francois
Glad you enjoyed it Cisco
10/05/2012 - 15:30
The 6589 is Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrfect.
10/05/2012 - 01:55
It's the Cat's Meow!  How big were all these models and approximately how many did they produce?
they remained pretty small to today's standards at 35mm-36mm, I don't
10/05/2012 - 15:31
have infor on production numbers but like most pieces from the time I would expect pretty low numbers
Re: Re: Vacheron Constantin and the Tonneau 100 Years of Creativity Part 3
10/05/2012 - 09:19
Great model Oliver. Love this case.
10/05/2012 - 10:09
I hope that VC will produice new cases with "Les Boitiers de Geneve". VC at its best. What will be presented next SIHHs? Congratulations to our FAVORITE brand. Liger
Your photo Oliver? Looks amazing! I'll use it for Part 4 with all
10/05/2012 - 15:32
credits of course smiley
Marvellous watch, Oliver
10/05/2012 - 18:12
What a stunning design, exceptional case and dial. Beautiful photo too. I have never seen this one before. Many thanks, Joseph
scan of Ref 6983 was missing. Just uploaded it
10/05/2012 - 17:39
A wonderful array of designs...
10/06/2012 - 15:26
Alex, Thank you for the compilation of designs. However, I must confess that I'm rather taken with Oliver's contribution. For my eye's this has a great deal of appeal - very attractive. Delighted to learn that you will include it in your forthcoming Part 4. All in all a very nice series - always worth waiting for... Tony
Thank you Tony :-)
10/07/2012 - 17:43
Thanks Alex, I am looking forward to Part 4...
10/09/2012 - 23:22
...quick question: what is the difference between 'cushion' shape and 'tonneau'? I was under the impression that a tonneau shape had to be rectangularr, but with curvy sides - I would have personally classified a few of the first models you show in article as cushion shape? Cheers,  Francois