The final article on the saga of the tonneau
While the tonneau watches of the 60s were wild yet few, Vacheron came back to the tonneau timidly in the early 90s but went to overdrive starting 2003 with the launch of the Malte models which closely followed the design elements of the era, bold and daring up until 2008 and classical and timeless with the arrival of the crisis and a return to more “traditional” designs.
When thinking of Vacheron Constantin we tend to think more of the Patrimony or Metiers d’Art models, even the Historiques but in fact two tonneau lines are the longest lived collections at Vacheron Constantin the Overseas launched in 1996 and Malte in 2000!
This list is non exhaustive but I have tried as much as possible to include special and limited edition pieces.
1992-1993 Ref 31110 / Ref 10110 (ladies)
A beautiful curvacious case made in white and yellow gold housing caliber 1132 for the mens model and cal 1055 manual wind for the ladies version
Interestingly the cue for creating these models was the Toledo model! The goal was to take the case and go from carré cambré to tonneau!
|scan courtesy of Oliver|
1994 Ref 31150 / 10150 (ladies)
Launched in 1994 in yellow gold housing cal 1132. Kirk Douglas wore this model which he offered for a charity auction in 1999.
1995 Ref 47240
Launched in 1995 in honor of the brand’s 240th anniversary. Made in yellow gold, white gold and platinum housing an automatic caliber 1127. The flared lugs were inspired by a vintage piece from the Vacheron Constantin museum.
Before the watch was actually launched Vacheron Constantin ‘s director of sales showed sketches to retailers from the principal markets and the response was so positive that the watch was presold even before being created!
This model was made in 155 platinum pieces, 360 white gold pieces and 870 yellow gold pieces
1996 Overseas Chronometer
The beginning of a major adventure and a model which has come to represent sports chic at Vacheron Contantin and a worthy successor to the beautiful 222 of the 70s. In fact the team working on the Overseas project was so enthusiastic about it that the project was completed in a record one year period.
|scan courtesy of Tick-Talk|
The Overseas was launched the same year Vacheron Constantin was purchased by Richemont and a unique a piece for left handers was specially made for Joan Rupert the Richemont owner and CEO.
The Chronometer (which was also made in a surprising quart version for men) housed an automatic caliber 1310.
1996 Overseas Chronograph
The Overseas model along with the Chronometer was also launched as a chronograph housing the automatic cal 1137. Offered with a silver or a black dial the chronograph was also offered with a gorgeous military type dial.
A stunning prototype with blue / black dial was made but unfortunately never went into production. The Color scheme was used 12 years later for the Greek Overseas!
1997 Ref 37001 Historiques 1912
A superbe tonneau watch with mobile lugs directly inspired by the original creations of the beginning of the tonneau era. Made in 1162 pieces in rose gold and 750 in white gold and housing cal 1132. The design team created a watch case with a curved back and mobile lugs for greater wearing comfort. Legend has it that the case maker was so maddened at the design team who never found the prototype results good enough that he had menaced them to bring his shot gun to Geneva to resolve the issue!
2000 Malte Tourbillon
The Malte collection was an all new collection which was to draw its design elements from Vacheron Constantin’s history. Conceived originally as a collection of round watches it was to house simple to high complicated calibers. However , Vacheron Constantin had been working on a tonneau shaped tourbillon movement (cal 1790) which was ready at the time of launch of the Malte line, which explains the reason behind a tonneau shaped Malte Tourbillon in a collection of round watches.
The Malte tourbillon like its round counterparts had a powerful design stemming from its fan shaped lugs and dagger hands. It was made in both rose gold and platinum in either full dial or a superb skeleton version.
The Malte tourbillon was also offered at the 2003 “Only Watch” auction (the principle being a unique timepiece offered at auctions the proceeds of which went to research muscular dystrophies) in steel version with salmon dial and ruthenium coated movement.
In 2006 a gorgeous steel version with black dial and rose gold hands and indexes made in 10 pieces in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Geneva Boutique was launched.
|scan courtesy of Paul Boutros|
The same year, in 2006 Vacheron Constantin created what is still today one of the brand’s boldest and viciously cool timepieces: the Black Nickel Malte Tourbillon in a platinum case made in only 3 pieces for the Singapore and Kuala Lumpur Boutiqes. This watch had the particularity of having a black nickel coating on the movement which along with the perlage made it seem as if the movement was made of carbon fiber!
In 2007 the Malte Tourbillon was offered at the Only Watch auction, this time in platinum with a stunning sand blasted platinum dial and the first time platinum was used as a movement component: the carriage bridge. The extremely complex crafting of this plate endowed with such a superlative level of finishing represented an extraordinary feat in itself, particularly given the malleability of the metal.
In 2008 Vacheron Constantin made a special piece for the US market limited to 10 pieces. Similar in philosophy to the black nickel model but with a palladium case and an open dial revealing black diamond coated movement.
|scans courtesy of Paul Boutros||scans courtesy of Paul Boutros|
In 2010 a gorgeous version without the date and power reserve version was launched in a limited edition of 100 for the Honk Kong market.
2001 Royal Eagle Chronograph
The Malte collection having encountered immense success the brand decided to create its tonneau counterpart with the same design cues but aiming at a younger clientele by the introduction of steel cases for the chronograph version (the 1st non Overseas to have a steel case).
The Royal Eagle chronograph with large date was made in steel or rose gold housing an automatic caliber 1137. They also existed with a light dial with printed numerals or either silver or grey guilloche dials with applied numerals.
2001 Royal Eagle Day/Date
Housing the automatic caliber 1206 this model was made in yellow and white gold.
Late 2006 the Royal Eagle models were merged into the Malte which were to gradually phase out the round models.
Meaning muse in French. One of the rare modern Vacheron Constantins to be made specially for the fairer sex the Egerie was made both with a manual cal 1400 and quartz. The Egerie came in many different models in yellow or white gold gemset or not.
2004 Overseas Automatic (2nd generation)
The Overseas models were beefed up in 2004 with a more sporty masculine redesigned 42mm case as well as featuring what is considered today iconic: the half Maltese cross bracelet links.
The second generation Overseas no longer was chronometer certified but became antimagnetic featuring a soft iron inner case protecting the movement from magnatic fields. The movement was also changed going from cal 1310 based on an Girard Perregaux 3100 ebauche to cal 1126 based on a 889 a Jaeger LeCoultre ebauche.
A Hong Kong special edition was made in 2006 following a special request from Vacheron Constantin's Hong Kong boutique, it was made in 300 pieces for the men's model and 200 for the ladies' model.
2009 saw the launch of an extremely fresh version in steel with titanium bezel, a slate grey dial on strap.
A unique bespoke Atelier Cabinotier piece made for left handers and a dial with red accents showed up at auction at Antiquorum in 2009 selling for US$24,000.
|scans courtesy of Paul Boutros||scans courtesy of Paul Boutros|
In 2011 a smaller sized 36mm ladies model in gold with diamond set bezel was launched as well as a 42mm version in rose gold and slate grey dial on strap.
2004 Overseas Chronograph (2nd generation)
Same as with the automatic model, the movement also has antimagnetic protection but kepi the same automatic chronograph caliber.
In 2006 a yellow gold version was launched.
In 2008 a stunning rose gold version was launched either on strap or a lovely bracelet. The deep rich gold perfectly sets out the polished and mat surfaces of the case but even more of the beautiful bracelet.
2009 saw the launch of an extremely fresh version in steel with titanium bezel and chronograph pusher screws and a slate grey dial on strap.
In 2012 a version with a lovely blue dial was also launched
Limited edition Overseas Chronograph models
The Overseas chronograph model led the way to some rather creative limited edition models , the design elements of which were subsequently reproduced in the regular versions (ie: the titanium bezel of the Engine model which was replicated in the steel/titanium model with slate grey dial).
2007 Japan Limited Edition: 2 models (50 pieces each) in steel with gorgeous dials quite similar in texture to the US limited edition. One with blue numerals and the other with beige numerals.
2007 Engine: Made in 50 pieces also for the Japanese market this Overseas Chronograph was made in partnership with the car magazine Engine thus the name of the watch: Overseas Engine!
It opened a new path for Vacheron Constantin as it used two materials that had never been used by the brand before: titanium (for the bezel and pusher screws) and carbon fiber.
To further underline the car connection the chronograph hands on the watch mimic the indicators on a car's dashboard. The hands do not start at the habitual 12 position but rather at 7.
2007 US market : a steel version limited to 100 featuring a stunning grainy dial with ocre numerals and a first, the Overseas on a leather strap.
2010 Turkey A rare bird in Vacheron Constantin production, a two tone Overseas Chronograph in steel with rose gold bezzel, crown and pushers limited to 150 pieces.
2010 Greece : A 100 piece limited edition Overseas Chronograph for the Greek market. The dark blue guilloché dial is matched with a blue rubber strap and an extra dark blue croc strap. The case back is not engraved with the habitual Amerigo Vespucci sail boat but with a Greek Trireme.
2010 Pisa : Overseas Chronograph in steel (on rubber strap and croc strap) made in only 20 pieces for the famous Milanese retailer Pisa. The dial is mat black with indexes filled with yellowish luminous material.
2005 Malte Dual Time
Housing an automatic cal 1222 and made in yellow gold and white gold. The second timezone is read via a subdial as 6 o’clok merged with a day/night indicator. A power reserve indicator as well as the date complete the whole. One of the most notable features of this watch is not its mechanism but the amazing guillochage of the dial!
2006 Overseas Dual Time
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Overseas collection a dual time model was launched with the same Cal 1222 and same indications as in the Malte Dual Time.
A regular steel version was launched as well as a 250 piece limited edition in rose gold on bracelet and a mouth watering chocolate colored dial.
In 2008 the Overseas Dual Time was launched in pink or white gold on strap. The pink gold model has a white gold bezel and both are diamond studded with 88 brilliant cut diamonds for a total of approx 0.90 carats.
The watch comes on a white croc strap and a white rubber strap. However considering its size of 42mm it could also be worn by gentlemen with a more bling sense of sartorial elegance or whose leisure lead them to spend time lazing on Flavio Briattore’s yacht in Porto Cervo. Also dubbed here on the Lounge as the “Beckham”
In 2009 The Dual Time was launched in rose gold on strap
2010 saw the launch of an extremely fresh version in steel with titanium bezel and date pusher screw and a slate grey dial on strap.
Inspired by the Chronograph made for the Turkish market the Dual Time was also launched in a lovely two tone version in steel with rose gold bezel and pushers available only in Vacheron Constantin boutiques.
2007 – Malte Chronograph
To prevent the confusion between the different names with similar shapes Vacheron Constantin decided to phase out the round Malte timepieces and save this collection for tonneau watches and consequently rename the Royal Eagle as Malte.
Two rather surprising limited edition models were made for the US market one in steel (limited to 100 pieces) and one in rose gold (limited to 30 pices) bith with a gorgeous burgundy dial, red chronograph seconds hand and red stitching on the strap.
A gorgeous rose gold model with a dark grey guilloche dial made was made in 50 pieces for the German market in 2008.
|scan courtesy of Radek|
In 2008 the Malte Chronograph was redesigned. The steel case was discontinued and only a rose gold and white gold model existed.
|side by side view of the new and previous Malte Chronographs|
A limited edition of 20 pieces in white gold with blue dial was aslo made specially for the Moscow boutique.
2007 – Malte Tourbillon Regulateur
Launched in 2007 in the Collection Excellence Platine in a limited edition of 50 in platinum with a monochrome sand blasted platinum dial the Malte Tourbillon Regulateur featured the minutes on an excentered dial at 12 o’clock, central minutes hand and power reserve.
In 2008 a non limited edition in rose gold and platinum was also launched followed shortly by a rose gold model with black dial available only in the Vacheron Constantin boutiques. All housed cal 1790R
In 2009 a sublime diamond set version was introduced. The case is paved with 270 baguette cut diamonds with a total weight of approx 12.33 carats while the dial dazzles with 236 baguette cut diamonds with a total weight of approx 5.66 carats. The invisible setting (a rare craft) gives the impression that the whole watch is made of diamonds and not of white gold.
2009 Malte Moonphase and Power Reserve
Inspired by a round model with the same complications but made in a limited series only for the Taiwan market. Launched in pink gold and white gold and housing the manual wind 1410 in a reworked and highly sexy case the Malte Moonphase with power reserve had one of Vaheron Constantin’s most complicated dials with five different finishes! The inner zone features a silvered, finely hand-guilloché “Clous de Paris” or hobnail motif. The outer zone is decorated with a vertical satin-brushed finish, also silvered. The minute circle, the power-reserve display as well as the inscriptions Vacheron Constantin Genève and Swiss Made are all transferred, while the seconds subdial at 6 o’clock is circular satin-brushed. And finally, the minute-circle and power-reserve zones are screen-printed in white. The moon-phase display embodies a clever blend of technology and expertise, composed of a disc with a galvanised base and a moon face in 18-carat white gold or pink gold depending on the model.
|cal 1410 dial side, on the Malte Moonphase there are|
2011 Overseas Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
I really like complicated movements in sporty cases and it was time for the Overseas to house a complicated movement.
This became reality in 2011 with a phenomenal 80 piece limited edition in steel with titanium bezel and chronograph pusher screws. Add the slate grey dial and a dash of panache with the mustard color hands and you have what is in my opinion one of the most desirable Overseas.
The same year a 20 limited edition piece in full steel was made specially for the Vacheron Constantin New York boutique with a vibrant mélange of blue for the dial and red for the hands.
Finally a non limited edition was launched in rose gold in 2012.
All these models house the automatic cal 1137.
2012 Malte 100th Anniversary
Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the tonneau shape at Vacheron Constantin the Malte case was redesigned as to be more inline with the original tobnneau watches first launched by the brand 100 years ago.
A limited edition of 100 pieces in platinum with a striking “glittery” disl (for the lack of a better word) was created housing manual wind cal 4400.
2012 Malte Small Seconds
Surprisingly ever since the launch of a dedicated tonneau line in 2000 there never was a time only Malte! This small seconds piece with a rose gold case and cal 4400 took 12 years to see the light of day!
2012 Malte Ladies
Only in rose gold with a gemset bezzel and quartz movement
2012 Malte Tourbillon
Last but definitely not least. his version is just stunning and tops my wish list. The rose gold case is slightly larger than the small seconds models at 38 x 48.2 mm and houses a brand new movement cal 2795, comprising 169 parts, beating at a leisurly frequency of 2.5 Hz (18,000 vibrations/hour) and a 45 hour power reserve. The large tourbillon cage takes up a large part of the lower half of the dial taking center stage and distilling a quite aura of sleek elegance. Last but not least the movement finish is nothing short of astounding may it be on the back plates, the tourbillon cage or the underdial.