Just Another Vintage Vacheron

Just Another Vintage Vacheron

I am very pleased to be able to share this wonderful watch with my fellow THL'ers after posting some teaser shots a few weeks ago Just Another Vintage Vacheron.

Just Another Vintage Vacheron

Many vintage Vacheron & Constantin watches are referred to by a nickname which reflects their dominant design characteristic.  Every so often a single piece will draw togther a range of features which represent several genre's most adequately.  

Just Another Vintage Vacheron

Such is the case with this 1950-manufacture Ref. 4536.  As one of the so-called XXL models, it measures an astonishing for the time 38mm across and 47mm lug-to-lug.  Yet it's depth of 10mm still provides a proportionately elegant profile.  

Just Another Vintage Vacheron

Contributing to the watch's heft are the sold and massive claw lugs that characterized another Vacheron & Constantin design family.  Their sharp edges and the deep, crisp hallmark signify a refreshing absence of the polisher's wheel.

Just Another Vintage Vacheron
 
The dial draws the eye most hypnotically with it's magnificent display of hand guilloche, made all the more difficult by the presence of a raised name cartouche.  A pleasing variety of lapidated triangular, hexagonal and Arabic indexes are applied to a flawless original surface.

Just Another Vintage Vacheron

Within resides a 12 1/2 ligne calibre 454/5B 17-jewel manual movement, fully decorated to the high standards of Vacheron & Constantin.  Technical excellence is reflected in it's use of a beryllium balance, shock absorber, self-compensating balance spring and swan-neck micrometer regulator.  A VXN export code signifies a component watch destined for the North American market.  Originality is confirmed by the numerals "505" on the inner rim of the main body which match the last three digits of the case number as stamped on the case back.

Just Another Vintage Vacheron

Alas, all good things come at a price.  My first Vacheron, a fine little calibre 1003 Patrimony, was sacrificed to obtain this piece.  But really, it's lack of "&" made this inevitable...Just Another Vintage Vacheron.

This is a beauty Dean, congratulations
07/26/2009 - 11:25
Lovely, engine-turned, dial.  I guessed correctly about the 454, though couldn't tell it was a /5B I think we've been hanging out together on the Lounge too much Dean, because I noticed a similar era XXL with engine-turned dial but with a cal. 453 instead.  The dealer is asking too much for it for me to consider.  Daisy also likes your watch You've made a great find & congratiulations on your acquisition.  What watch will you use as your daily watch (since you don't have an OS anymore)?  Or will you rotate your watches more frequently now? BR, Dan P.S. Does anybody know all the differences between the different cal 453 and cal 454 variations (i.e. /5b, /3b, /5c, etc.)?
Re: This is a beauty Dean, congratulations
07/26/2009 - 18:34
Hi Dan!  According to Secrets of Vacheron Constantin, this type of rose-engine work from the 50's, using two axis engraving to produce a 3D effect around the raised cartouche, was the most elaborate that Vacheron ever produced for wristwatches. In answer to your Q, the 453 was the base calibre for the 454.  Both had 17j and 28.80mm diameter but the 453 was sub-seconds and 4.0mm thick while the 454 featured center secs and grew to 5.0mm thickness.  I've also wondered about the sub-calibre designations and would like to know the meaning too!  Alex...can you help? As for regular wear, I'm really favoring the T-Bird nowadays.  It has a very sporty feel and as-yet unrestored so I'm not so nervous to wear it .
Rose-Engine Engraving
07/27/2009 - 23:48
I found this picture from Kazumi of guillochage work on a hand-turned rose-engine: This machine certainly revolutionized the process from that of a hand-held burin, while still allowing the artist's touch on his work.  Computer-guided machines of today just don't "cut it" for me . Speaking of engraving, I just finished a book by Nicholas Crane on the life of Gerard Kremer aka Gerardus Mercator.  Contrary to my earlier beliefs, his predominate skills were not as a geographer (his maps were as erroneous as everyone else and, in fact, he never travelled far from home in present-day Netherlands), but as an engraver of his maps: photo courtesy of Wikipedia
Gorgeous.................
07/26/2009 - 15:48
just doesn't do it justice.  It looks great on your wrist as well.  If I may ask, how/where did you find it? Best regards, Tom
Re: Gorgeous.................
07/26/2009 - 18:44
Tom, I can't reveal trade secrets .  Really, it was another "garage find" (was that the term somebody used before?) that took quite a bit of research to verify before I pulled the trigger.  And as usual, the people at the Heritage Dept were extremely helpful.
Re: Just Another Vintage Vacheron
07/26/2009 - 16:53
Lovely "little" watch Dean. Lovely and unusual guilloche pattern too. Congrats, Wear it in good health. Joseph
Re: Re: Just Another Vintage Vacheron
07/26/2009 - 18:49
Thanks Joseph.  Slowly but surely we are building the base of Vacheron & Constantin collectors here in Canada .  I visited a local Rolex dealer recently while wearing the T-Bird and they went ga-ga over it.  The fellow with 20 years in the business had never seen a vintage V&C and thought it looked better than the turn-o-graph.
Re: Re: Re: Just Another Vintage Vacheron
07/26/2009 - 19:31
My thoughts exactly! Stay tuned, I've got one of my own coming up soon. I've had it for a few months but its needed a little TLC. Hopefully it will be back soon. Regards, Joseph
you tease :-) (nt)
07/30/2009 - 18:19
e
All In The Family
07/26/2009 - 23:24
As suggested in my first post, this Ref. 4536 combined style elements from many of its bretheren.  Here are the other members of the family. The case-size was extraordinary for the time and earned the nickname of XXL, as with the Ref. 4538 (pictured) and 4539:(Antiquorum) The concave bezel and large overhanging claw lugs reflected the case design of the Ref. 4461:(Antiquorum) The dial was duplicated on the Ref. 6161 Chronometre Royal:(Antiquorum) When V&C combined these elements into a single piece, the result was the Ref. 4536: The ability to create so many varied but related designs contributed greatly IMHO to the enduring image of Vacheron & Constantin as a manufacture of bespoke, elegant timepieces.  Small model runs and their tremendous depth of skilled craftsmen allowed for such flexibility, which is unfortunatley no longer economically feasible.
not "just another", but "yet another" beautiful vintage.....
07/27/2009 - 13:46
i admire yr knowledge of the "&" brand , and thus the ability to pick up the treasure in vintage pieces because of the knowledge of provenance and thus appreciate it better than most of us here. what is easy to pick up though is the quality finishes, the robust and hefty case, and not forgetting the hand guilloche dial. i'll name it visionary 3D screen-saver dial, as it appears to me like the 1st generation screen saver with microsoft windows floating flags. really, what was sacrificed was "sentimental value", a small price to pay for such a beautiful piece. Congratulations and thank u for sharing.
Beauty Within
07/27/2009 - 20:05

So true that vintage V&C selection is very much about the "feel" of the piece.  With the knowledge obtained from THL and other forums, plus several reference books and having handled many good and bad examples, I trust my instincts more....but still verify all the smallest details too . And the outside is only half the story!  V&C movements deserve their moment in the sunshine too.  For example, the provenance of this watch began with the JLC cal. 449  ebauche: It's first V&C iteration was the cal. 453 with sub-seconds: Further refinements, including the addition of a swan-neck fine  balance adjustment, created the 453/3B, /3BW and /3C: The move to center seconds resulted in a designation change to 454 and its related sub-calibers: It is confusing enough to sort out the variations of V&C sub-calibers as Dan's earlier post illustrates, which puts the collector at a disadvantage when trying to ensure originality.  Take this K454/3BW: Notice the absence of the swan-neck and EXU import code on the balance cock?  This suggests a non-Vacheron replacement part, which should be marked VXN.  Unfortunately, I cannot find a record of the importer for the EXU code, so any insights would be appreciated.

stunning! the case and dial are gorgeous and the size is
07/28/2009 - 12:10
perfect! Wear it in best of health you lucky man
Largest V&C Wristwatch?
07/28/2009 - 19:30
Hey Alex, maybe you can confirm what I suspect?  At 47mm across the lugs, it appears to be the largest round gold-cased  wristwatch from V&C.  The Ref. 4538 XXL for example is "only" 44mm.  A few of the art deco rectangular cases equal that dimension lengthwise but of course are not as wide.  Otherwise I only know that the special-order aviator's watch in steel is larger...
I'm sure the Tour de l'Ile is larger :-) (nt)
07/28/2009 - 20:19
e
Sure, but not "&" (nt)
07/28/2009 - 21:00
nt
Good decision as expected!
07/29/2009 - 10:24
A wonderful watch! and most important, as Dean says, it's a true Vacheron & Constantin! 38 mm that's nearly gigantic and those lugs... Congrats again Doc
Extremely nice, ! let me introduce you...
07/29/2009 - 21:15
...to a friend of yours ! I call her : turtle !! (Yes, I do speak to my watches !!)
Nice watch
07/30/2009 - 18:04
Unusual piece...can you share some technical info?