Inquiries about Cal 2450

I am now reviewing of a new watch housing Cal 2450 just out of curiosity, but I failed to find convincing answers to my question: how good Cal 2450 is, from the viewpoint of its finish quality and mechanical structures.

With respect to the finish quality, it would be great to know the finish level of each unseen part by, for instance, an exploded view. I know some manufacturers open these views to the public as shown in the photo from a manufacture’s catalogue. What interest me are finish qualities of bevelling (whether using burnishers or grinding-wheels), chamfering on parts including plates, bridges, levers, wheel arms, pinions, etc. 

Inquiries about Cal 2450


I also realize that modern Vacheron has pursuit of finer tunings of calibers since the introduction of Cal. 1400 as an in-house movement, so it may have difficulties in publishing its movement parts, in order not to be judged by the current aesthetic qualities for the future improvements.


As for the structure, only I found was that the calibre features rotor with ceramic bearings. On the basis of speculation or surmise by reading magazine articles about the Vacheron’s oil facility, new ingredients for oiling can be a surprise present for us, but who knows.


I posted this message, in the hope I am not the only person interested in this type of topics; what are inside the Vacheron watches. I do not intend to be a trouble-maker in this forum, but simply would like to know more about Vacheron’s superlative movements.


Thank you for your help.

Your question raises some intersting points with surprising answers
09/04/2007 - 20:24

Hi Taku, You raise some extremely interesting points which I will try to answer the bestI can. On a side note somewhere in the pipeline is an article on movement finish by VC but probably not until 2008… For inspiration of cal 2450, the watchmakers and engineers of VC used calibre 1120, an ultra thin automatic created in the 60s, housed in most of VC’s automatics and considered to be one of the best automatic calibres in terms of construction and function.

Caliber 2450 which was launched in 2006 and is designed to be VC’s workhorse movement and constructed in a way that it can receive additional modules for complications. It is important to note that not only the calibre 2450 receives the Geneva Seal (whose criteria are based on movement finish) but the extra modules will also file for Geneva Seal application. In terms of finish Vacheron Constantin has decided to apply the utter highest level of finish possible for series production (meaning it won’t be the same as on a Philippe Dufour but certainly higher than any other mainstream brand). And this is obvious with the naked eye just looking at the movement, take a loupe and have a closer look and you will be surprised by the amazing quality of the flawless finish. The movement finish extends to the rotor which is polished and engine turned Maltese Cross design with an exterior brushed sunray finish to reflect the light.

The same level of finish is applied to the non visible parts as it is to the visible ones. Of course this is a statement from Vacheron and I have not opened a watch myself but from the pictures I have seen this seems the case. Chances are that we may see some openwork models in the future enabling one to obtain confirmation of what VC states. The movement plate is circular-grained - with 650 small circles produced manually by using small, abrasive pegs selected on the basis of the diameter of the circles to be made.

The hand-chamfered bridges are decorated by using a small abrasive grinding-wheel covered with emery paper. Philippe Dufour once said that you could recognize the correct application of the Côtes de Genève when the pattern perfectly aligns when the pieces are assembled, which is the case here (next time you have a look at a movement with the Geneva waves have a closer look and you will be surprised by the number of movements with poorly aligned stripes!!). The gear-trains and the heads of the screws with their chamfered grooves are highlighted with a highly polished finish.

The teeth of every wheel, every pivot and every sharp angle are hand polished, burnished and chamfered. Of course this painstaking finish is not only done for aesthetical reasons but also for functional ones such as the overall reliability and good working order of the watch. Throughout the manufacturing process, therefore, the parts are washed several times, with each kind of metal (steel, brass, silver nickel, etc.) undergoing very specific and effective cleaning operations. These must be vigorously applied to protect the decorations from deteriorating and to lengthen the life of the movements.

underdial view of Cal 2450:

Underdial view of Cal 2475 (Jubilé 1755) just to show you the amazing finish of the non visible components:

In terms of construction calibre 2450 here is what watchmaker John Davis wrote about calibre 2450: “For one thing, the balance cock, regulator and balance assembly are all quite traditional if apparently very well executed. It's interesting that VC chose to stick with these traditional elements while the rest of the industry is going bridged, free-sprung balance. This is perhaps a demonstration of their willingness to hand adjust their watches or perhaps a nod to traditionalism and old-world style. There's a lovely Geneva stud and cover, a similarly elaborate locking mechanism and a pretty rugged looking micro-regulator. This combination of mechanisms is both expensive and relatively complex to manufacture and finish, allowing for some visual displays of craftsmanship, but is also likely to offer good reliability as well (shock resistance basically). The hack lever offers an even more complicated visage, with old-world, almost chronograph looking levers and springs working together to show off finishing skills at least as much as to stop the balance when the stem is pulled out. Thank God for ceramic ball bearings as a counterpoint I guess. Many of these elaborations (or at least the combination of them) are slightly over-the-top relative to most other modern automatics. No matter how high-end, most automatics generally show a more practical engineering and manufacturing approach than their manual wind brethren. Historically the keyless works, bridges, etc. are all slightly more industrially executed and practically engineered in self-winding calibers, but VC seems to have taken a deliberate turn in the other direction with this piece Based on what can be seen and surmised only from the pictures (and surely that is a pitifully small sampling of what the movement truly contains), it does rather seem that VC is leaning towards some classical solutions executed with great elaboration and a willingness to put more parts and/or more work into the movement for its own sake. They want this movement to be a luxury watch movement through and through and they want us to know that too.” The master watchmaker of an extremely well known high end brand (not part of the Richemont group) had dissected the calibre 2450 and told me that it was very well and intelligently constructed and perfectly finished. I also recently showed the calibre 2450 to rising stars of independent horology: Kari Voutilainen and Roger Smith and both not only liked what they saw but were impressed by the high degree of aesthetic visible finish. This is not a low feat when you know how critical these artisans can be of series production pieces.

I guess VC did not want to make a simply functional movement but
09/04/2007 - 20:52

rather complicated things for themselves to make a true traditional movement which will stand the test of time. Kudos to VC for taking this route and for the high grade finish which they apply to the movement.

I guess this explains the high prices...
09/05/2007 - 03:00

Compared with VC's older models with outsourced automatic ebauches, I find the new cal. 2450 equipped models to be quite expensive as a whole.  However, when one learns to appreciate the extra effort and cost it takes to prepare such highly decorated and finished movements, then it might be possible to put the pricing at a proper perspective (although it still does not make the watches any cheaper for poor folks like myself).

I do not own a cal. 2450 but I do appreciate the beauty of the new movements as exemplified by the cal. 2475 in the Jubilé which I was lucky enough to acquire.  I find the new Contemporaine auto (hour, mins, secs) very refreshing and well proportioned, and wouldn't mind adding one to my small VC family.

Very high quality movement and also very expensive.
09/05/2007 - 13:43

But I am sure 50 years later (if we still need a mechanical watch), it is worth a lot more.

Regards

Ling

Just beautiful!
09/05/2007 - 17:40

Thanks Alex,

for an utmost well written and illustrated article with sublime pictures.

This movement just shines of Absolute High Class !

What I like is the whole classic layout, as John points out,

genuine material and probaly only cheramic balls.

It's something I really would like to own !

It sure must be one of the most attractive movements I seen for long, long time

Doc

Re: thank you for your enthusiastic answer
09/07/2007 - 18:09

Thank you, Alex. My obsessive idea of Swiss long-standing tradition of unfinished hidden parts is now somewhat cleared, thanks to your detailed documentation about Cal 2450. Indeed, Cal 1120 is one of my ideal self-winding calibres and, it’s good to know that it inspired VC engineers to design, and watchmakers to aesthetically finish the Cal 2450. Needless to say, Dufour’s Simplicity and Kari’s Chronometers are perceived as the best-finished movements nowadays (and personally I agree, as I saw them in the flesh), but I also understand from your explanation that VC in-house Calibers tower over the serially produced movements. Hopefully, we will have a chance to see articles on Cal 2450, or parts breakdowns from the manufacturer in the near future.

quality remains when the price has long been forgotten! As Kazumi
09/05/2007 - 12:24

stated the pricees of the new VC models with the inhouse calibers is rather high compared to their watches using outsourced movements but the tremendous amount of work going into the finish seems to justify the price.VC's motto being do better if possible and its always possible perfecly exemplifies this.

thank you for a very informative read. I applaud what VC is trying to
09/05/2007 - 19:51

achieve and where some (many) in the watch industry try to cut corners VC actually takes luxury and exclusivity a step furher to make a watch as beautiful inside as out.

Their inhouse manufacture calibers may have taken a long time comming but were definately worth the wait.

I was rereading the article on caliber 1400 in the Press Corner and the journalist was really impressed by the level of finish!!

Re: Inquiries about Cal 2450
11/12/2015 - 18:44

Hello all,

am pretty excited as this is my very first post on the forum... I don't own a VC yet, but am on the edge of deciding on acquiring my first high-end time-keeper, and I hope THL will help me with my choice. Hopefully it will also be a VC! ;)

Anyway, my first question on the forum would then be regarding the architecture of the 2450 caliber: why did not they keep the free-sprung balance if they took inspiration from the wonderful 1120? I get (from my current poor timepieces knowledge) that it would have made this caliber even more high-end and desirable, isn't it? Could that be related to a patent issue of some sort? Could it be adapted in anyway afterwards? (Am thinking about an adaptation through "les cabinotiers" for instance)

PS: yes, my avatar is a trial with a Patrimony... Am already a little biased I think... :D

Best you start a new thread
11/13/2015 - 03:31

as your post will soon be missed once more recent subjects are addressed, unless someone happens to search it out for other reasons!  Before you do, note the comments of John Davis:

In terms of construction calibre 2450 here is what watchmaker John Davis wrote about calibre 2450: “For one thing, the balance cock, regulator and balance assembly are all quite traditional if apparently very well executed. It's interesting that VC chose to stick with these traditional elements while the rest of the industry is going bridged, free-sprung balance. This is perhaps a demonstration of their willingness to hand adjust their watches or perhaps a nod to traditionalism and old-world style. There's a lovely Geneva stud and cover, a similarly elaborate locking mechanism and a pretty rugged looking micro-regulator. This combination of mechanisms is both expensive and relatively complex to manufacture and finish, allowing for some visual displays of craftsmanship, but is also likely to offer good reliability as well (shock resistance basically). The hack lever offers an even more complicated visage, with old-world, almost chronograph looking levers and springs working together to show off finishing skills at least as much as to stop the balance when the stem is pulled out. Thank God for ceramic ball bearings as a counterpoint I guess. Many of these elaborations (or at least the combination of them) are slightly over-the-top relative to most other modern automatics. No matter how high-end, most automatics generally show a more practical engineering and manufacturing approach than their manual wind brethren. Historically the keyless works, bridges, etc. are all slightly more industrially executed and practically engineered in self-winding calibers, but VC seems to have taken a deliberate turn in the other direction with this piece Based on what can be seen and surmised only from the pictures (and surely that is a pitifully small sampling of what the movement truly contains), it does rather seem that VC is leaning towards some classical solutions executed with great elaboration and a willingness to put more parts and/or more work into the movement for its own sake. They want this movement to be a luxury watch movement through and through and they want us to know that too.” 

Thanks Dean, you beat me to the punch
11/13/2015 - 03:43

with a much more elegant response. yes

Re: Best you start a new thread
11/13/2015 - 09:58

Thanks for the answer. I'll start a new thread, but why is the forum working this way and not putting more recently updated subjects on top instead of more recently created?

Regarding John Davis' description, I had read it but could not quite understand why regulator had been VC's choice at the time of the caliber conception. I have no doubt on the fact that this caliber is perfectly finished though, that's one of the reason am considering VC for my first high-end watch :)

Hello Bibz, welcome to THL!
11/13/2015 - 03:41

You may not get many replies because your post is under a very old thread and not many people may notice it.  If you want, you can create a new post and it may get more feedback.

VC originally licensed the Gyromax free-sprung, balance from PP for a few of its movements.  The 1120 is unique in that it was funded by AP and VC at first, then PP joined the funding.  The Big 3 had JLC develop this movement.  I can guess that PP allowed use of the Gyromax for the development of the thinnest, finest, automatic winding movement of that time.

I do not know the exact reasons or thought process VC went through for using a free-sprung balance or not in Cal. 2450.  VC rarely uses it.  For current production pieces I can think of, Cal. 1120 and Cal. 1142 have free-sprung balances.

There is often debate over the value of free-sprung vs. non-free-sprung.  In theory, a free-sprung balance should be better in terms of time-keeping accuracy and consistency.  But in actuality, the combination of multiple interactions within the entire mechanism make those theoritical advantages statistically difficult to identify.  (This debate occurs when discussing Tourbillons as well). 

Adjusting a balance with micro-screws is generally much easier than having to adjust the balance, so that is also a practical consideration?

Best Regards, Dan

Re: Hello Bibz, welcome to THL!
11/13/2015 - 10:02

Hello Dan, thanks for the welcoming :)

Regarding practical considerations of having a regulator instead of a free-sprung balance, am sure it enters into account but would still prefer VC to choose the most high-end architecture as it is what one is looking for when buying a piece of history like a VC in my opinion.

I'll start a new thread so we can discuss further on my first watch hunting... :)