Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)

Earlier today, I discovered what the sweetest five words in the English language are:   "On FedEx Vehicle for Delivery"   I had thought it would take at least till Monday to receive the watch, but as it turned out, the seller was good enough to have shipped the package quickly, and the FedEx international priority service takes just overnight to ship from Singapore to Hong Kong.  So, thanks to the wonders of modern logistics, my waiting for the watch is mercifully shortened by a couple of days!   In order to share the joy asap, I am opting to just snap a few quick pics whilst offering some initial impressions.  With a bit more time, I hope I will be able to take some better photos that do the watch greater justice.   In the flesh, the watch is everything I had hoped it would be.  

Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)   The multiple layers of the dial are magnificent, and an open invitation for endless examination.  From the brushed finish of the grey areas; to the "ridges" around the weekday and month display slots; to the 3D-like moonphase; to the guilloche center section with straight vertical lines and subtle horizontal curves; to the  mini pyramidal squares on the indices; to the outer minute tracks with slightly angled marks and unique fonts on the numbers 15/45/60; to the different shades of blue on the moonphase background, date hand and month display fonts; and and of course finally, the maltese cross sitting imperious  and dignified atop it all.  So many different elements at play, and yet never a feeling of chaos or inconsistency; each detail deserving of attention and discovery, but none so loud that it overwhelms.     And then of course ... the case, the case.  The watch is nicknamed Cioccolatone because it is supposedly shaped like a square of Swiss chocolate sold in Italy.  Honestly ... I'm still having a hard time making the comparison, unless we are talking about a piece of chocolate which by some miracle of physics or hand of God, happens to melt in a way that leaves perfectly proportioned, layered, and sensuous curves.  I read from an article on the internet that the ex-CEO of VC was said to have compared the curves of the case to sand on the beach, once the waves have receded.  My own thoughts turn to the terraced rice paddies I have seen in Southeast Asia, a sea of green which, depending on one's viewpoint, is either sloping gently down, or climbing majestically up.  Regardless of what visual imagery one associates with the shape, one thing is certain - the case is an object of pure fascination.  Whilst wearing the watch during the day, I found myself repeatedly looking at the curves at different angles.  Finally, having done enough gymnastics with my wrist and elbow twisting this way and that to yield fresh points of view, I would suddenly remember that the option actually exists to take off the watch - whereupon the ritual of examination begins anew.   Enough of my words ... I will let the pictures - quick snaps though they are - do the talking:   Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)
Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)

Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)

Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)

Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)
  One more detail that I would like to mention, which may not have come out well in the photos, is the cambered crystal.  Even though I knew I was just smudging it all over the place, I couldn't resist tracing out the curves on the crystal over and over again.   The tactile feel of the glass surface is a gentle slope unlike anything I have ever experienced with a watch.  As the finger goes over the divide where case and crystal meet, there is only the slightest ever feeling of a break - they are not one and the same piece after all - but if it were not for that tiniest of a ridge, one would be hard pressed to tell where metal ended and glass began.  This may not seem a big deal to many, but to me, is the kind of detail and subtlety which sets the watch - and the brand - apart in terms of workmanship and dedication to artistry.   And of course, the obligatory wrist shot, taken using the cellphone whilst in the office.  Yes, the watch wears a little big on my small wrist, though in real life it does not look overly so, especially given the slightly curved case.  While we are on the subject, it still amazes me that a watch of this size could be designed - much less invested in and produced! - during the '50s.  This was "so far out", I doubt it was any attempt to develop a new fad; more likely, the genesis of this watch is of the "we are going to do this and we don't care what everyone else thinks" variety.

Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)

Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)

So how should I sum up my impressions?  It would be easy to use any number of adjectives: beautiful, refined, elegant, balanced, sensual ... all of which would be appropriate.  The more interesting question is: how?  Is it possible to pinpoint what lends the watch its air of beauty and transcendence?  

At this point, I would like to borrow words from a respected friend from TZ, who said to me that this watch "harkens to a day where craft was king".  

Yes, in a modern age consumed by marketing, spin, skin-deep beauty, and 24-hour news cycles ... it is indeed this attention to workmanship and design, where no detail is too small; where artistry can both be seen by the eyes and felt with the hands; where subtlety quietly reigns supreme ... that is how a timepiece such as this compels us to stop and admire it.    I started my journey with VC, by searching for a timepiece which "reflects its DNA".  I had thought DNA is found in motifs, designs and specific references, but on reflection perhaps the real underlying DNA is a tireless commitment to excellence.  With this watch, I believe I have found it.

Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)

Thank you for watching.  
09/21/2012 - 20:31
KBS
09/21/2012 - 20:48
09/22/2012 - 02:05
09/22/2012 - 00:42
09/22/2012 - 00:48
09/22/2012 - 02:03
JB
09/22/2012 - 03:52
09/22/2012 - 11:19
KBS
09/22/2012 - 11:58
09/22/2012 - 20:01
Congratulations, Jeff!
09/21/2012 - 20:31
That is one gorgeous watch.  I love the Historiques line, and this Toldeo is no exception.  For me, the magic of this watch lies in the sexy curves of the case and crystal.  I can understand why you are over the moon for this one. I continue to wish for a moonphase to add to my small collection.  Perhaps I should consider the Toledo.... Congratulations again, and enjoy your new VC. Best, Robert
What a wonderful report….
09/21/2012 - 20:48
on receiving a watch. I wish you and the Toledo many happy hours together.   Yours sincerely KBS
Great watch and so glad your connection has
09/21/2012 - 21:02
such passion--that is what it is all about! Enjoy my friend and hope to see it on your wrist while we discuss the finer points of watches over dinner someday. Take good care, Best to all, Tim
Outstanding in every way...
09/21/2012 - 21:05
Your write-up, the watch, and your passion, especially, Jeff! Congratulations again - it's a beauty! Very best, Paul
Love your writing, you make me long for a Toledo:-) may it ...
09/21/2012 - 23:07
Time only happy moments Don't forget to join The Hour Club:-)
Re: The Hour Club
09/22/2012 - 02:05
Done!  Pending authentication, am now a proud official member of the Club!  Cheers, Jeff
What a lovely watch, wear it in best of health
09/21/2012 - 23:18
nt
A great Historic VC model
09/22/2012 - 00:42
Thanks for sharing your LOVE in this model. Your post and your photos are talking a lot. This model is growing on me too smiley Wear it on good health Liger
Love that sassy wink
09/22/2012 - 00:48
Love that sassy wink that your watch seems to be giving us in the last picture cheeky.  Truly a beautiful piece that absolutely continues the iconic design of the original Ref. 4764 Cioccolatone. Your prosaic writing makes me feel like I have the watch in my hands yes. I'm sure you've done much research into the history of the Les Historiques Toledo 1952, but perhaps I could add for the benefit of others.  When the original first appeared it caused a sensation due to its large size and ground-breaking case design.  The nickname "cioccolatone" was quickly granted by Italian collectors due to its resemblance to a chocolate treat of the day (cioccolato). The case shape is more technically called "carré galbé",  or curved square. Alex posted a brief description of the 4764 in his wonderful article, Quantum Leap: the History of Vacheron Constantin Calendar Watches Part 2... Also sharing the same case size of 36mm x 43mm and stepped rounded shape of the 4764, thus falling under the sobriquet of Cioccolatone, were the Ref. 4737 automatic, 4822 manual winding, and 6440 automatic (6440Q with date). Its obvious you've succeeded in capturing the DNA of Vacheron Constantin with your new timepiece.  May your association with the marque be long and enjoyable.
Thank you!
09/22/2012 - 02:03
I didn't know quite a few of the things you had mentioned, and I'm very glad you shared this with me.  Huge thanks!  
Great write-up! You just gotta love the piece...
09/22/2012 - 02:16
May it tick away good times only
Re: Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)
09/22/2012 - 02:54
What a gorgeous watch. To me this is the epitome of why VC is the top of the watch game. Yes PP makes incredible pieces, and their movements cannot be beat, but a lot of their watches don't seem to have soul. The cases are not as special and they pile on complications making you wonder if having a new 911 turbo or a watch is your next purchase. AP seems lost too. They are focused on maximizing their sports watches with LE after LE. It's sad that most people buying a RO(O) don't realize how beautiful of a movement their watch really has. I mean look at how they finish their millenary line! Which brings me to VC. Their is something about is brand that just speaks to you. It is small, and personal. The watches have character. Look at the case and dial of the watch you just bought, and that crystal! It's warm and inviting, and makes you think that a watchmaker at an old wooden workbench 100 years ago could have made it. This is seen in all the VC lines. Their cases/lugs are so unique, and they are doing more than any other brand as far as high end artistic pieces as well. I guess if their were one downfall it would be they don't keep up with the forefront as far as in house movements. My point. I think this was an excellent representation of VC and I hope you cherish it for years to come. This is on my short list as far as future purchases but the traditionnelle manual wind small seconds seems like it may come first. Right now planning a wedding then buying a house puts these things on the back burner. I have lurked here for a long time, but your pictures are so inviting I had to come and say congratulations! -Kevin
Re: Re: Have no fear, it is here! (Historiques Toledo 1952)
09/22/2012 - 02:55
I am not sure why my paragraphs didn't stay. Sorry for the messy post!
Welcome to the Lounge Kevin :-)
09/22/2012 - 10:52
,
Very nice indeed!
09/22/2012 - 03:52
I love your write-up and description. I feel the same about mine. It's a high point in design. Those lugs are fantastic and I'm happy we share the same feelings and passion for this piece. Wear it in the best of health. PS Here are 2 more pics of those lugs:
The last photo is eerie!
09/22/2012 - 10:53
.
You captured the curves even better!
09/22/2012 - 16:31
Your lighting techniques are superb.  Very nice photos!
What a beauty !
09/22/2012 - 11:19
The case and the dial are amazing, a fantastic watch and pure "essence" of Vacheron Constantin. Design, dial at the best level, poetic and different. An this is so nicely written ! When trying it, I had the impression that the watch was melting on my wrist... like chocolate ^^.  Sounds weird but is sooo pleasant. Thanks for sharing your impressions and photos. cheers Francois
And another photo....
09/22/2012 - 11:58
Beautifully taken ...
09/22/2012 - 16:32
... probably better than the VC stock photos!   And I notice that, like me, you took a photo whilst the weekday was changing.  :p
Thanks you are way too generous…
09/23/2012 - 11:34
But you just made my day smiley
Cioccolatone sweet! Congratulations!
09/22/2012 - 13:35
I see the package has arrived safely and ahead of time at that. yes Your pictures really capture the wonderful details of the dial and the characteristic curves of the case which are so so difficult to get on film (okay, so that last word has exposed that I am from the pre-digital camera generation indecision).   Personally, the Toledo really reminds me of a stereotype gorgeous lady (a babe, if you will) in the sense that it can be demanding at times.  Since it does not come with a quick-set button for the day-of-the-week, I sometimes find myself winding the crown almost a full week's-worth when wearing it after a break (reminding me to never leave a beautiful lady unattended for too long!).  However, and like going out with a gogeous woman, the hassle and the long wait are forgotten once she is in your arms (or wrist in this case).heart    Anyway, as Kevin so aptly put it, the Cioccolatone is a wonderful example of how VC's watches exude a "SOUL" which really set them apart from watches of other top-tier brands.  For example, I wouldn't mind having a Calatrava 5196, but IMHO the Patrimony Contemporaine simple oozes with just so much more soul. Again, congratulations and enjoy your gorgeuos lady in good health! Kazumidevil
Re: Cioccolatone sweet! Congratulations!
09/22/2012 - 16:34
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.  Yes, this watch demands being attended to ...  But as you have said, it is also worth it! You put it very well, it is the soul of the watch which sets it apart. Cheers, Jeff
Congrats!
09/22/2012 - 20:01
Very nice watch!
Fantastic Write-Up of One of My Favorite VCs
09/22/2012 - 23:34
Have wanted one from the first moment I saw it. Wear it in good health and thanks for the beautiful pics.
A great delivery by both Jeff and FedEx...
09/23/2012 - 16:07
Jeff - I've followed your journey in great detail thanks to your superb writings and commitment to excellence. Your decision to take the VC route smacks of pride and pleasure, indeed your energy is infectious in no small measure. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and aspirations it's been a tonic!  Tony