“The Perfect Watch?"
Since I first laid eyes on it in 2001, the Malte Perpetual Calendar Chronograph has been my “Holy Grail” watch. For the last 7 years, I have been obsessed and infatuated by this mechanical and artisanal marvel. And since acquiring it 4 months ago, my love for this watch has increased exponentially. To state the obvious, it is much nicer to be obsessed by something when you can actually enjoy it.
And so be warned that the views stated below are probably not the most objective…
The Case and Lugs
The watch measures 41.5mm in diameter, and 11mm in height. To each his own, but for me those are the perfect dimensions, both in absolute terms and in terms of diameter/thickness ratio (on this last point, I think that the 47212 is greatly improved from the 47112, whose officer’s back made the watch 14mm, slightly too thick relative to its 39mm diameter). While the watch has a good presence on the wrist, it will neatly fit under a shirt cuff. And the angles of the lugs really make the watch fit my wrist perfectly.
At 6.25oz (178g), the 47212 has pretty good heft, and I am always aware that I’m wearing the watch, which I like very much - for that, you gotta love platinum… And the great thing about Pt (and other precious white metals) and that most will not recognize what it is, and so it does not cry out for unwanted attention. I’m completely sold on platinum, if I could I would have all my watches in that metal – the premium is sometimes steep, but I do think that it is worth it.
The case is wonderfully finished, and I find its pure and simple lines very aesthetically pleasing. I love the way the case borders the dial. It has a nice thickness and frames very well the dial, and its slight angle increases the perception that the watch follows the shape of the wrist. I am also enamored with the side profile of the watch. When Alex first posted the pictures he had taken of the 47212, it was his sole side shot that convinced me I had to get that watch no matter what.
The Malte lugs remain my all-time favorite, a perfect combination of elegance and sturdiness. They really give the watch a lot of flair, and look both art-deco and modern at the same time. Hard to explain why, but I much prefer the side and the ¾ views of the Malte lugs than the front view…
Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me, but it seems as if the Malte lugs are not the same on all the models. The DTR, for example, seems to have straighter lugs than the EP QP. When looking straight at the EP QP, it seems as if the lugs are moving away from the watch, creating somewhat of an “X”. To be honest, I would have preferred if VC had made the lugs on the 47212 straighter, similar to the DTR (the lugs looked better on the 47112 as well, IMO) (or is it just because the lugs are longer, resulting in a wider lug at the end?). Having said that, this is not an issue for me.
The Crown and Pushers
When the EP QP first came out, I really wasn’t keen on the round chrono pushers. I still prefer the square pushers of the 47112, but the round ones have grown on me. In fact, I think that they suit better the style of the 47212, which is more of a dress watch compared to the sportier 47112. Thank God VC didn’t go for pushers similar to AP’s Survivor.
On the crown, nothing much to say, apart from the fact that it is the nicest in the biz… When my watch is neatly tucked under my cuff, I do like to take a little peek at the Malte cross on the crown to remind myself of the watch I’m wearing. Never fails to bring a smile on my face…
The Most Awesome Dial in the World
By far the most awesome beautiful and moving (yes, moving
…) dial I have ever seen. Every thing about it is perfect (well, almost). In terms of composition, the dial is very well balanced: it is a busy, yet simple dial (Mr. L’s side by side comparison against the Patek 5970G clearly makes the point… http://www.thehourlounge.com/thread/view/comparison-between-vacheron-47212-amp-patek-5970g_17460_17460.html ) Between us Loungers, if I could have The Watch Genie grant me one wish, I think I would wish for VC to come out with the EXACT same watch, but excluding the chrono complication and having it strictly as a QP (and while I’m talking to the Genie, I would probably ask him to put in the hour markers from the Malte QP Retrograde). But I digress…
The platinum sand-blasted finish is, to state the obvious one of the key features of the watch. Much has been written about the Excellence Platine dial, and all the hype is warranted. I think our dear Moderator said it best, so I hope he will not mind if I quote him:
“The visually arresting sheen of the dial needs to be seen to be truly appreciated; the dial’s grainy appearance reflects light in a very original manner giving the watches in the Excellence Platine collection a monochrome post industrial appearance of the highest contemporary effect.” To use a cliché, no photo can do it justice, it truly needs to be seen in the flesh to be truly appreciated. Under very bright lighting, it will sparkle like fresh snow. But under normal conditions, it will reflect softly the light.
The “PT950” sign? Yes, I could have done without, but I am a lot less bothered about it than most Loungers. It is so small, and painted in grey instead of black, that it is very discrete. There are a lot of dials out there that have a lot more of unnecessary writing on them, and in more obvious fashion.
Against this grainy and soft glittery background, the 11 applied hour markers really stand out, resulting in great legibility. I love how they catch the light, really bringing the whole dial to life. The only thing that I wonder is why VC decided to
use white gold for the markers, when everything else on the watch is made out of platinum?
I actually like the fact that each sub-dial has a different font size, giving each one of them a different “personality”... And yet the difference in size is small enough that it is not that easily noticeable.
VC got it right again with the hands. The broad, sword-shape Malte minute and hour hands have had their end reworked to give them a more elegant look, which fits very well with the overall spirit of the watch. But my favorite are by a long mile the two chrono hands. The use of blued steel brings just enough color in the dial - and it is my favorite color… I am in love with this silver-blue color combo, it would have killed me if VC had decided to use red in this watch (it was really out of place on the platinum version of the 47112)
The one thing that really annoys me about my watch is the fact that both the day and month discs have not been correctly aligned – the good news at least is that it is a problem that can be fixed. I will need to get it sorted, but I just can’t convince myself to send my baby back to Switzerland for a few months… And here I need to have a little dig at VC, and their need to improve their quality control… We are talking here about a grand complication watch, made in a limited edition of only 50. Yet, the 3 that I have seen/known about have had problems. In this case, the discs aren’t aligned properly; the first one I bought had a moonphase disc that was doing a full turn in an hour; and Mr L’s 47212 didn’t work properly either and had to be sent back to Geneva. Maybe its bad luck, but 3 out of 3 is not great (by the way, John I hope your watch is back an working properly…). Always do better, if possible, and it is always possible…
But then again, even if the watch didn’t have a movement, I would probably buy it, as long as it would have its moonphase… I know I must sound like a broken record, but I AM ABSOLUTELY IN LOVE WITH THIS MOONPHASE!!!! BY far the nicest I have ever seen, the platinum moon-phase disc is engraved, patinated and entirely finished by hand. It is a true work of art, and words cannot describe it properly...
Again with this one, its appearance can change drastically depending on the type of lighting – sometimes the face and stars really stand out of the black background, and sometimes the whole disc seems to be completely monochrome. I could go on for ages, but I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves… So here are a few shots of both the melancholy and smiling faces (the melancholy one is by far my favorite)
Every night, before putting the watch back in its box, it take a minute or so to look at this beautiful Caliber 1141 QP… This Lemania-based movement is 7.37mm thick and 27.00mm in diameter, this movement counts 21 rubies and has a frequency of 18,000 vibrations/hour. The finishing is outstanding, but I would have to agree with Mr. L that it could have benefitted from a small bridge or two, as in the PP5970G. I am not technically intelligent enough to comment on the merits of the swan neck fine adjust, I’ll just say it looks good. Again I’ll let the picture do the talking… The expression “like butter” has been used to death, but there is no better way to describe how it feels to work the column-wheel chrono and the wind the watch – and everyone with a similar movement will know what I am talking about.
While this is, in my view, without a shadow of a doubt the nicest watch that was ever made, it is still not perfect, and there are a few little things that could be improved… Yet, no material object has ever brought me such joy.
And because of this, I’ve been wearing it almost every day. It has picked up a few battle scars along the way. The 2 notable ones are a) the one on the case/lug is the result of my wife trying to grab my hand (yes, I still love her, but I always walk to her left now), and b) the one around the crown was made by the automatic winder that came in the box. Needless to say that it was the first and last time I have used it.
And I’ll end this on the obligatory wrist shots…