1972 was obviously a fantastic year, Coppola released one of all times greatest films : the Godfather (which by the way is the only time in cinematographic history where a film and its sequel received the Oscar for best film), David Bowie created Ziggy Stardust, Atari launched its 1st video game and Vacheron Constantin receives the Prestige de la France award and goes on creating a watch in its honor.
It was a Friday afternoon in the salons of the Ritz Hotel, on Place Vendome that Jacques Ketter received on June 23 1972 the Diplome du Prestige de la France from the hands of the president of the Comité de Prestige et de Propagande Nationale (Committee of national prestige and propaganda) you have to love the name – for its technical excellence - being the first watch firm to receive this honor.
It is however rather blurry as to know if Vacheron Constantin created a specific timepiece to celebrate this diploma or had a piece in the pipeline that it called Prestige de la France, in any event we know that the reference 35202 was designed by the brand’s Paris team which can explain such an original and zanzy design in a period where the VC production design wise was on the verge of a flat encephalogram!
This model stayed more or less the same until 1999 when it was redesigned, retaining its asymmetrical case but less elongated. With time the 1972 evolved into a ladies watch hitting an amazing high in 2002 celebrating its 30th anniversary with a set of unique models whose straps were made by embroider extraordinaire François Lessage.
For its 41st birthday (why 41 and not 40 may you ask – and I have no answer) Vacheron Constantin launches a redesigned version of the 1972 dubbed 1972 Prestige, finally available once again to men and I had the pleasure of wearing it for a week for this review.
With a 25mm x 47mm case the new 1972 Prestige is extremely close to the original model with a slighter width, says Vincent Kauffmann design Director “We wanted to have a nice curve on the case as well as an elegant and sleek line, the bigger size also is due to the fact that we wanted it to be more in line with today’s tastes and masculine size while retaining its sophistication.”
At first glance the case my look simple with the major interest being its asymmetrical case but the lines, angles and steps give it an amazing form when looked closely and reflect the light in an extremely complex yet interesting manner with a succession of light and shadows. This also comes from the fact that the dial opening takes up all the width of the case but leaves a lot of metal at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock.
Another superb feature is the grey dial with a subtle blue herringbone motif. Says Vincent Kaufmann: “we wanted to create a dial bare of ornamentation yet with some type of pattern. Considering that the timepiece is a true dandy’s timepiece we wanted to recreate a fabric patter found in men’s apparel and the herringbone was the perfect pattern”. The choice of rose gold hands and Maltese Cross is in my honest opinion a winning choice and give a hint of warmth where monochromatic silver hands would have left the dial cold.
Movement wise, the newly launched extra slim Cal 1003 in gold is the engine of the 1972 Prestige.
As the new Geneva Seal now applies to the whole watch and therefore and even greater attention needs to be taken in the attachment of the movement to the case and a very elegant and aesthetic movement holder has been created to encase the cal 1003 to the case.
So what’s my take after a week on the wrist?
God this watch is beautiful and it grew on me more and more each day, depending on the angle of the wrist the reflections were completely different and I had the impression of having a different watch each time. The slightly cambered case makes the watch sit perfectly on the wrist and thanks to the strap which is screwed into the case the fit is perfect.
The original 1972 on the wrist
The 1972 Prestige is a true dandy’s watch, it will look as good with a bespoke Anderson & Sheppard suit or with a dash of Neaopolitan spezzatura from Rubinacci but definitely not on more casual wear.
The only question I may have on the 1972 Prestige is linked directly to its design will this design which is really bold and audacious become rapidly outdated or will it stand the test of time and become one of those designs which will be lauded in fine art schools? I tend to think the latter because the harmony of the proportions is just perfect. More often than not when I see a watch I always find something which could have been bettered to suite my tastes but with the 1972 I find no flaws!!
To quote Doc: “For once the replica beats the original”
side by side comparaison: 1972 Prestige and the 1972 Prestige 40 piece limited edition