Watches & Wonders 2013 A Personal Journey

Watches and Wonders is a new fair based in Hong Kong open to the public, the goal being to also have a major watch fair in Asia as exists in Europe, the USA and South America.

Vacheron Constantin presented a Janus face for 2013, resolutely feminine at SIHH with a majority of launched aimed at the fairer sex and on the contrary masculine and technical at W&W.

Offerings were varied and wide with what seemed to be something for every taste

Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra- Thin Calibre 1731

The piece maitresse of Vacheron Constantin’s year.

A long time coming but worth the wait!

Had I received an Albanian Lek each time I was asked when Vacheron Constantin would launch a simple minute repeater I would be a millionaire… in Euors!

So here it is ladies and gentlemen, Calibre 1731 (named as such in honor of Jean-Marc Vacheron’s birth date). After close to 4 years of development Vacheron Constantin’s latest minute repeating caliber a worthy heir to the iconic Cal 1755 of the 1990s made in only 200 pieces. As usual with Vacheron Constantin’s amazing watches this one also has a dry name where the main function of the watch isn’t even mentioned!
But hey, who cares about the name when you have in your hands one of the most beautiful minute repeaters on the market today a symbol of exquisite style and with its 3.9mm thickness the thinnest minute repeating caliber currently available?

The main objective was to have a movement which needed to be both slim and reliable. And slim   does not simply entail thinner components, but rather rethinking the whole architecture of the movement so as to maintain reliability and functionality.

Calibre 1731 also benefited from the research and development of Calibre 2755, most notably the inclusion of a totally silent centripetal governor (which does without the bzzzzz sound heard in repeating watches) as well as a system which links the gongs to the case ensuring a crystal clear chime.

Each Calibre 1731 will take several months to assemble and fine-tune, special attention will obviously be given to the chimes and will undergo certain adjustments in order to achieve perfect harmony between low-pitched and high-pitched notes. And it is at precisely at 4:49 that the tests are performed, since that is the time when the cadence is the most most clearly audible due to the almost identical intervals between the hours (4 strikes), quarters (3 strikes) and minutes (4 strikes).
Housed in a 41mm case, the Cal 1731 also has a 65 hour power reserve.

Needless to say the movement finish is absolutely stunning but as they say a picture is worth 1000 words.

You can hear the chimes here Calibre 1731 chimes









Watches & Wonders 2013 A Personal Journey

Patrimony Traditionnelle 14 Day Tourbillon Collection Excellence Platine

The first CEP models were launched in 2006 and interestingly these pieces are always eagerly awaited by collectors even though they are purely an interpretation of existing models but the amazing monochromatic effect of the sand blasted platinum dial can completely change the look of a watch. In the case of the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14 Day Tourbillon originally launched in a warm rose gold case this version gives it a fiercely masculine appearance.

Limited to 50 pieces worldwide this watch  - as with the others members of the CEP family – not only features a 42mm platinum case and dial but also crown, deployant clasp and even platinum thread stitching on the strap!

As its name indicates the 14 Day tourbillon which houses Cal 2260 has a 14 day power reserve.







Historiques Toledo 1951

For me the strongest design in the Historiques line after the American 1921!  With this new tribute Vacheron Constantin faced the difficult task of not only reinterpreting a true icon associated with it (something that the American 1921 was not as the original piece was not known well enough contrary to the “Cioccolatone” – nicknamed as such by Italian collectors due to its shape which reminded them of a chocolate square) but a design which has been appearing on a and off in the catalogue for the past 20 years, the latest offering being the Toledo 1952 with triple date calendar and moonphase display.

With this new model Vacheron Constantin goes back to the roots of the Cioccolatone by presenting a three handed version in rose gold housing the automatic caliber 2260SC with a superb guilloche dial center and chased miniature gold pearls for the minutes. The whole gives amazing presence to the watch on the wrist and no doubt it will be a new winner. The dimensions of the case – 36.4 mm x 43 mm and 8.9 mm thick.





Les Métiers d’Art  - Univers Infinis

Representing the second chapter in a collection presented in 2012  the new Métiers d’Art Les Univers Infinis creations, inspired by the work of Dutch artist Cornelis Escher, pursue the  tribute to the graphic art of tessellation and in my opinion in an amazing manner: bolder and more alternative than the 1st models without becoming gimmicky.

Once again 3 models (not as a set) are presented in white gold, limited to 20 pieces each with dials merging different artistic crafts.

Angel Watch

Engraving, guilloché work and Grand Feu enamel

A rather gothic repeating pattern of angels (light colored enamel) and demons (dark colored). From afar you only see the angels and the closer you get to the dial the darker the atmosphere!

Working with a white gold base, the engraver first traces the outlines of the figures and then hollows them out as cells using the champlevé technique. Next comes the copperplate engraving that defines the details of the demons. The enameller fills the cavities thus hollowed out, an operation requiring infinite precision in that the repetitive symmetry of the pattern simply cannot tolerate even the tiniest flaw. After several firings in the kiln, during which the grey and blue colours are progressively set in place, the artisan applies a final layer of translucent enamel to the imps in order to accentuate the depth of the engraved motifs. The guillocheur then moves into action to craft the angel robes and wings by patiently incising the colourful material. It is extremely rare that guilloché work on an enamelled model is done as the last phase, precisely due to the extreme complexity of such an operation, since any slip of the tool could jeopardise the precious work of an entire team of artisans!







Lizard watch

Engraving, Grand Feu enamelling, gemsetting and guilloché work

This is one happy watch, joy just exudes from the dial!! I think it has to do with the mix of colors  with the red, brown, gemset or silver-tonede lizards. Inspired by one of the Dutch artist’s lithographs named Reptiles, the watch springs to life beneath the intermingled effect of four ancestral decorative arts.
The engraver begins his work by hollowing out the motifs from a yellow gold base. The enameller then fills in the lizards heading southwards with a taupe-coloured enamel, while those going west are coated in crimson red. The gemsetter then chooses to adorn the coats of certain reptiles with round-cut diamonds and finally, the master guillocheur dextrously enlivens the remaining lizards by highlighting their tiny scales measuring just a few tenths of a millimetre.




enamelling gemsetting

Horsemen watch

Engraving meets gold and mother-of-pearl marquetry

Very similar to the horsemen found on walls of Persepolis the capital of the Persian Empire the Horsemen introduces a new craft into Vacheron Constantin’s long list of artistic crafts, that of marquetry.

The marquetry artist crafts a particularly complex object by adjusting two diametrically opposing materials. Each horseman is first cut out from gold and mother-of-pearl before being meticulously assembled, like a puzzle, on a gold base. There are no visible gaps between the figures – a tough challenge indeed within such a small space. Mother-of-pearl calls for extreme attention, since it is extremely fragile and must feature the perfect combination of thickness, specific colors and shapes, smoothly combining curves and straight lines in order to follow the lines of its gold counterpart. At the end of the process, the engraver perfects the horsemen and horses by hollowing out the details of their anatomy.







09/27/2013 - 19:26
10/02/2013 - 06:25
10/02/2013 - 06:27
09/28/2013 - 18:24
Re: Watches & Wonders 2013 A Personal Journey
09/27/2013 - 16:49
Many thanks for the journal of the journey :-) The Persian-horsemen piece is such a work of art and amazing achievement of visual effects.
the Horsemen is also my favorite of the 3
10/02/2013 - 06:21
Thanks for the write-up, Jefe! I hope to see the new Toledo soon
09/27/2013 - 17:12
If I can afford a moment of honesty - this is my favorite time only Vacheron in the current offering;-)
Thanks Radek, the Toledo has topped everything on my want list ;-)
10/02/2013 - 06:21
Ah, these live photos have brought the watches to life
09/27/2013 - 17:34
These shots of the MR and the Toledo do far more to show off the beauty of these new pieces than the press photos.  We can see the external convex curvature of the dial on the Patrimony, for instance, something that was not visible in the official photos.  Superb job, Alex!  These were the photos I was waiting for.  The Toledo, as shown here, is even surprising me.  It looks much more impressive in the live scans than in the official images.  The cambered caseback is somethng that always makes me go weak in the knees.  I can't wait to see this one in person.  Thanks for posting this so quickly from W&W -- you know how impatient we are.  blush All the best and safe travels, Robert
thanks for the kind words and glad you enjoyed the write up
10/02/2013 - 06:22
Re: Watches & Wonders 2013 A Personal Journey
09/27/2013 - 17:41
Thanks for the great post, Alex. I agree with the others...your photos really bring the watches to life. The new Toledo is really a lovely piece. the design of the dial has a real Art-Deco look that I like very much and which was not present on the older triple-calendar model. It's a beautiful interpretation! Joseph
the Toledo 1951 seems to be a home run!
10/02/2013 - 06:23
Thanks Alex. Great to see in the flesh photos. While
09/27/2013 - 18:18
I am totally in love with the 1731, your live photos make me appreciate and, dare I say it, love the 1951 more. Sometimes, the flesh photos of a piece do more justice than the press photos.  I kind of like the name 1731 for the MR. It gives the watch an almost mythical quality.
1731 is a great name, its the rest that I'm not a fan of ;-)
10/02/2013 - 06:23
Well, they are all fantastic
09/27/2013 - 19:00
Of course personal favorites exist, but what a tour-de-force! SIHH going to be cancelled or just moved?
W&W will never replace SIHH!!!!
10/02/2013 - 06:24
I must say that...
09/27/2013 - 19:26
I am impressed with V&C's continuing committment to classic, understated design. As a vintage lover, I have an extra appreciation for such design aesthetics. Thanks for the report, Alex! Regards, Tony C.
Thanks Tony
10/02/2013 - 06:25
A new and exciting presence in Asia...
09/27/2013 - 19:36
Alex - I've enjoyed your very interesting journey. Like other Loungers I admire the 'flesh' photographs which have brought 'new life' to each of the pieces. The photographs highlighting the workshop technics and skills were a nice addition. Visitors to your booth have a great deal to keep them interested and intrigued. Have a great show! Good luck! Tony 
Glad you enjoyed the trip sir ;-)
10/02/2013 - 06:25
Great review Alex! It will be a real feast to see
09/27/2013 - 20:40
all the pieces in the metal. Decisions, decisions. Best to all, Tim
in the metal all are gorgeous! One of the rare shows where I liked
10/02/2013 - 06:26
The 14 day tourby just bowls me over
09/28/2013 - 00:23
These are great photos of all, but being white metal guy, I've been waiting to see actual scans of th tourby. I'm wearing my WG Toledo and took a double look. I still love what I have. I will remain a fish fan As for the MR this is the movement to have. Thanks again Alex. These are very much appreciated. Best, Joe
couldn't agree more!
10/02/2013 - 06:27
Every watch a winner....
09/28/2013 - 18:24
I just like some more than others.... :-) Bill
which ones Bill?
10/02/2013 - 06:27
While I we'd tosee them I person to confirm....
10/03/2013 - 05:29
My ordering of favorites is: Calibre 1731 Historiques 1951 Lizard EP 14 day tourbillon The two other art pieces If that repeater sounds as good as the Calibre 2755 pieces I've heard, then I think it will be one of the all time great timepieces from the brand. Bill
Re: Watches & Wonders 2013 A Personal Journey
04/03/2014 - 12:05
This is craftsmanship at it's best.