Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix

Quai de l’Ile Review and Ownership Report

While 2008 may be most remembered for the ongoing financial crisis, for fans of Vacheron Constantin it will go down in the history books as the Year of the Quai de l’Ile.  For a brand, which has long been known for its classical and generally conservative looking timepieces, the Quai de l’Ile is proving to be a tremendous leap forward.  While still possessing and exemplifying the hallmarks of fine watchmaking done at its highest levels, these watches present a more contemporary design that is destined to be iconic during this 21st century.

A couple of years ago, while admiring the Malte Black Nickel Tourbillon and expressing my hope that the piece was an indication of things to come for the brand, I was told that there was something in the pipeline.  Well, that something turned out to be Quai de l’Ile and I believe that it does demonstrate the continuing evolution of Vacheron Constantin.  Similar to the Malte Black Nickel Tourbillon, the Quai de l’Ile perfectly marries the traditions of masterful craftsmanship and fine watchmaking that VC is renowned for with a sophisticated and more avant-garde design that is de rigueur for today’s haute horlogerie.  


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix
Malte Black Nickel Tourbillon


After first learning about this new product line, I knew that I would be adding to my watch collection.  In fact, I can still recall the exact first word out of my mouth upon seeing  a Quai de l’Ile watch for the first time, “Wow!”  With the kind and wonderful assistance of friends at VC, I was able to acquire the Quai de l’Ile Date Self-Winding model in titanium.  After having the watch for a couple of weeks, I thought I would share some thoughts and comments regarding this timepiece.  Here is a link to my original post about the Quai de l’Ile, including some excellent photographs (including this one) taken by my good friend, Tay kok Choon:


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix
Click here to see the first post and Kok Choon's terrific photos of my Quai de l'Ile



N.B. I have included some additional quick pictures that I recently took.  Please do not blame Kok Choon for these inferior photos as I am wholly responsible for them. Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix

Now, without further ado and as we await the official launch event tomorrow in my hometown, New York City, please find following my report on the new star in the Vacheron Constantin lineup, the Quai de l’Ile.


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


The Choice
A question that has been asked of me several times is “why this model and in this metal?”  Well, one of my aims was to find a good watch for everyday wear.  Therefore, it needed to be comfortable to wear and also very legible.  Titanium is one of my preferred materials when it comes to watches.  It possesses a discreet appearance and is both lightweight and durable.  Furthermore, the titanium model comes standard with the dark dial, which I think provides the best contrast and background for the hands.  The Date Self-Winding model is very clean in its design and very easy to read without too many other indicators on the dial other than the one for the date.  I considered the other current model (Day-Date with Power Reserve Self-Winding) but opted for the simpler model due to my preference for a daily wearer.  More about this alternate model later on…


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix

The Package
With its new product line, VC debuts a new packaging and presentation for the Quai de l’Ile.  Included inside of the primary box is a nice little leather travel case, which contains a polishing cloth, magnifying glass (plus a pusher for the Day-Date model), USB thumbdrive, special Quai de l’Ile passport and a space and roll for the watch.  All of the items are neatly placed and easily accessible.  As with most new things, VC is still giving consideration on how to improve the packaging and presentation of this new line of timepieces.  Therefore, I believe that we can expect to see some changes in the future.  Overall, I think the current version is just fine and more than meets the expectations of this VC collector.


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


The Watch
There is little that I can write about this watch that has not already been written before.  Alex has written extensively and enthusiastically about this remarkable timepiece and there have been numerous articles on what has been described as one of the stars of SIHH 2008.  I will simply offer my observations after having had the watch for a couple of weeks.


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


I immediately noticed the lightness of the watch.  Having, over the years, experienced other lightweight timepieces made from such materials as forged carbon and Alusic in addition to titanium,  I admit that I was still a little surprised by this piece.  Historically, one associates VC with high-end luxury watches and precious metals such as gold and platinum.  While titanium is often used in sports watches, you quickly realize that the Quai de l’Ile is not a sports watch per se. 


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


It has an elegance that becomes readily apparent upon your first inspection of the watch.  There is beautiful finishing that can be appreciated on both the front and the back of the watch.  On the front side, you see the marvelous Côtes Circulaires while through the crystal caseback, you can cast your eye upon lovely anglage, perlage and Côtes de Genève finishing that has earned VC is well-deserved reputation for being amongst the foremost masters of this art form.  This level of finishing is not found on sports watches and helps to elevate the Quai de l’Ile to a higher category of timepieces. 


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


Much has been written and discussed about the revolutionary application of security printing, laser engraving and utilization of speacial high-tech materials in this new line of watches.  While many brands try to introduce new techniques for their novelty value and the result can be somewhat discordant with the timepiece as a whole, VC has achieved a harmonious watch with the incorporation of these features.  To fully appreciate them, one needs to use the included magnifying glass or a good quality loupe.  In fact, it is quite fun to take a close look and discover the different elements on the dial, including the text from letters by Jaques-Barthélémy Vacheron and François Constantin.


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


From a usage perspective, I have no complaints.  The date display is interesting as it is the white background box which rotates around the dial and highlights the specific date.  This is different from the typical date disc which rotates and displays the date through an aperature.  Alex has commented about the hands and how he wished that they could have been enhanced in some fashion.  I agree that they are quite simple and lacking in great excitement but they are quite functional and quite legible with a filling of luminova.  I suspect that there was a design decision to keep them relatively plain so as not to distract from the other facets of the dial.


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


The operation of the watch is a pleasure.  Winding is quite smooth though the sound is ever so slightly rough.  I am not sure as to the cause but maybe Alex or one of our other horological experts can shed some light on this.  Setting the watch is an easy exercise with the hacking feature of the Caliber 2460QH movement helping to ensure accuracy.


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


After having this watch for a couple of weeks, I have also been testing its accuracy.  I am quite pleased that throughout this period, the watch has been well within an acceptable range of ±2 seconds per day.  In fact, it has been consistently running at about +1 second per day.  This has been the case for both when I was wearing the watch throughout the day and on other days when it was resting crown-side up on my table.  Some may quibble that this is not absolute perfection but I find it perfectly acceptable for a mechanical watch.

The watch comes with both a rubber and a leather strap.  Living in the tropics, I have found that rubber straps are the most suitable for this climate.  I have yet to try the leather strap but it does appear to be of comparable quality to other VC alligator straps.  The rubber one marries well with the titanium buckle and aesthetically speaking, they form a very nice pairing. The half Maltese cross in titanium looks very good against the rubber strap.  I did find that the folding clasp was occasionally a little difficult to close.  As rubber straps are still relatively new for VC, I suspect that we might see some changes in the years to come.


Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix


Conclusion
I am very happy with this watch and as they say, it is a “keeper”.  It has quickly become a regular in my daily-wear rotation.  Earlier, I mentioned that there is another model in the current product line.  The Day-Date with Power Reserve Self-Winding model is available in 3 standard configurations (just as the Date Self-Winding model is) but what makes it very compelling to me is that it can also be customized into hundreds of different configurations.  I am planning on ordering a custom configuration of this model next year after it has been officially launched in Asia.  With its added complications and customized case assembly, I will consider this new piece to be more of a special watch and still retain my current piece as my daily-wearer.

Perhaps my feelings can be best summed up in this famous quote from the Charles Dickens’ novel, Oliver Twist: “Please sir, I want some more.”

Thanks for reading.

Cheers,
Duncan
Re: Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix
10/21/2008 - 10:05
Hi Duncan! Wow!  Fantastic report!  I particularly enjoyed your detailed comments on how the watch has suited your personal tastes! A always, thanks also to Kok Choon!  His pics have really done the QDI justice!  I marvel at the way light plays off the watch at different angles! VC have again offered a complete experience from the moment of looking at the gem through a windowed box, and open to find beautifully presented accessories and of course, the watch itself!  Wonderful! I look forward to more reports on your watch as you discover more and more about it over the coming months! Best regards JAMES
Thanks James. The Quai de l'Ile is a wonderful watch and KC takes...
10/21/2008 - 10:51
exquisite photos.  If I wasn't afraid of troubling and imposing on him, I would love to have him photograph my collection. Awesome watch + great photographer = lucky watch owner   Cheers, Duncan
a call to KC....please
10/21/2008 - 19:40
tell Duncan its no trouble photographing his collection His beautiful watches and your amazing photography would be a match made in heaven
Kok Choon has an open invitation to shoot my watches...
10/22/2008 - 00:08
but whether or not the photos get published publicly, well that is another question entirely... KC is a good and trusted friend but we all know that there are plenty of nefarious characters out there. Cheers, Duncan
Not that I want to focus on the wrong thing here or anything.....
10/21/2008 - 10:24
.....but I REALLY like that travel case!!!
Well A.P., if you get a Quai de l'Ile...
10/21/2008 - 10:54
then I will be happy to relieve you of that inconvenience (aka the watch) so that you can enjoy your travel case without being burdened by a watch. Cheers, Duncan
Duncan, thank you so much for a detailed personal experience with QdI!
10/21/2008 - 12:12
Fantastic report - great read! As always awesome pictures... Can't praise you enough Thank you for your personal insight and guide on the watch, it's most valuable for me, and I am sure for others who consider getting a QdI, to know how owners feel about the watch and how their perspective on the piece has been evolving over time. I really like your idea of Date only model being a daily wearer. That's exactly what I need as well. A customized model will surely be a "special" close to one-of-a-kind watch and that is why it deserves a special place in your collection. Both current QdI models look fantastic and yet they are very different. Still it makes me wonder, there are so many QdI models ahead. I heard an XXXX (Radek you want VC to shoot me ? ) was next in line...
Thanks Radek for your kind words.
10/21/2008 - 13:46
It was a pleasure to write about and photograph this great watch. By the way, I hope that I have answered your questions.  If there is anything that I missed, then please just let me know. In the future, I think we will see some interesting complications in the Quai de l'Ile product line. Cheers, Duncan
you've answered my queries completely...
10/21/2008 - 14:10
what complications would you like to see in QdI future developments? As for me, I really would love a QdI Worldtime. I am also very positivie a QdI tourbillon is in the pipeline - could be my first tourbillon ever... BTW, do you know other two owners of the Malte Black Nickel Tourbillon since it was a local LE?
A tourbillon would be spectacular... ;-)
10/21/2008 - 15:43
As for the other 2 owners, I do not know them and have never inquired about their identities.  I value my privacy and I respect the same of others.  Maybe someday we'll stumble across each other at a VC event.  Perhaps next week even.... Cheers, Duncan
if what you heard is true...
10/21/2008 - 15:57
and that VC is indeed coming out with a QdI xxxx, then I pray the Gods that VC will have the amazing idea to use the sculpted moonphase...  (I'm in dreamland here, but wouldn't it also be cool if one could customise the moonphase, and choose it either in palladium, titanium or RG?
François and Radek if you want VC to put a contract on me you are
10/21/2008 - 19:45
doing the right thing talking about the supposed next QDI
Sure not...
10/21/2008 - 21:20
Had no idea it was confirmed news... sorry! Won't happen again.
Sorry Alex - please delete my previous post
10/21/2008 - 22:09

My plans of World Domination would indeed be well served if VC was to take out a good guy such as yourself... but now is not the right time

It is a dangerous world out there...
10/22/2008 - 00:17
For everybody's sake, especially Alex's, let's be careful with too much speculation.  We are all excited about the continuing development of the Quai de l'Ile line and we all know that new and very exciting things will be coming in the years to come but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Besides, if VC takes out Alex, then who do we have to moderate this forum????      It is all in good fun and comes from our passion for VC and its timepieces but let's take things one step at a time. Cheers, Duncan
Thanks Duncan for the great report and sharing your insight
10/21/2008 - 16:06
...and thanks for all these pictures (I do like pictures...) I went to Harrods last weekend and they had a few QdI models that I enjoyed trying on. I remained convinced that the Day/Time model remains my favorite. I could spend hours gazing at the dial, it is so amazing - there are so many details, and yet it remains quite simple. And I absolutely love how the the circular cotes de Geneve reflect the light... My preference is however for palladium model and its medium dial instead of the titanium and the darker dial. The best combo would be as suggested by Dean, a mix of titanium and palladium, with a medium dial... Like A.P., I'm a sucker for nice packaging, and I really like what VC has come up with - the travel case is such a brilliant idea! I don't think VC needs to improve on that front - I would rather have them come up with a more exciting rubber strap Cheers,  Francois
Many thanks Francois for your very kind words.
10/22/2008 - 00:27
With regards to photographing the Quai de l'Ile, it is a challenge because as you said, it has many facets and looks different at different angles and under different lighting conditions. Similar to my feelings about watches in general, where there is literally something for everyone, the Quai de l'Ile does offer a number of different standard configurations plus the option of customization and therefore can probably be presented in versions which everyone would love. Give VC some time and let's see how the rubber strap evolves.  As I said in an earlier post, I see the current strtap as a picture frame for a real work of art and theerfore I do not want or need much distraction from the masterpiece. Cheers, Duncan
a fantastic write up Duncan and of great halp for those who still
10/21/2008 - 19:39
had questions on the QDI. I'm putting it in our Recommended Threads section as it definately is reference material. You experienced Alusic? If it is what I'm thinking it is then you, my dear sir, have exquisite tase
I am most honored Alex that you are including this report...
10/22/2008 - 00:34
in the Recommended Threads section.  I feel quite humble to be in the company of such watch luminaries as yourself and other Loungers.  Many, many thanks Alex. As far as I know, there is only one example of Alusic being used in a wristwatch... Cheers, Duncan
Re: Quai de l'Ile Ownership Report and New Pix
10/21/2008 - 20:43
Excellent article, Duncan! Thank you very much for the great pics and the very readable text. You have really illustrated the complexity of design in this watch and VC's wonderful craft. And congratulations on the watch. Wear it in the best of health. Joseph
Believe me Joseph when I say that it was my pleasure.
10/22/2008 - 00:39
Thanks for your kind words and I am most certainly enjoying my Quai de l'Ile.  If you are desirous, then I hope that you can get one for yourself in the near future. Cheers, Duncan
Dear Duncan, It was a real pleasure to read your post. Thanks (nt)
10/22/2008 - 00:44
.
Glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks! (nt)
10/22/2008 - 00:47
VC
Indeed a very elegent watch, Duncan. Congratulations.
10/22/2008 - 09:08
However, I would prefer the arabic numerals 1,2,4,5,7,8,10 and 11 be changed to simple hour markers.  In that way, the dial will look much cleaner.  Of course, this is my personal preference. Regards Ling
Thanks Ling. Unfortunately for you, the hour markers are...
10/23/2008 - 02:14
not a currently customizable option for the Quai de l'Ile. Just a final note of thanks and appreciation to the fine folks at VC in Geneva and Singapore for making all of this possible.  I believe that at this very moment, some of them are on their way to the NYC launch event. Cheers, Duncan