Questions re: Early Cal. 1400 and Patrimony 81160

Hello everyone -

So pleased to have found this lovely community and happy to be a part of it.

Long story short, I have never owned a VC or watch of this caliber. I have tiny wrists and have developed an interest searching out an older 35mm Patrimony Small Seconds in white gold (ref. 81160-000g) as I see it as the absolute grail dress watch. I want to do as much research as possible before going any further.

I came across ei8htoms' old review of early Caliber 1400s and noted his concerns about some of the early movements' finishing ( I then stumbled upon this later forum post ( describing his experiences with subsequent examples of Cal.1400 and the general suggestion that "later" movements were improved.

While this post seems to indicate that the Small Seconds 81160 I'm interested in benefited from any such "improvements" in design and finishing, I would like to check with you experts to ask if anyone can confirm and/or add to anything to this? Basically I want to make sure I would be getting the best version of the Cal.1400 possible if I were to pick one of these up.




My response: Among the major brands, VC is considered to have the
11/06/2015 - 07:45

best finishing in the business. Nowdays the independents have gained a lot of traction and their finishing is superb, but those timepieces are at an extremely high price-point.

VC has always had superior finishing, even in the old days (80's-90'S) when the term in-house barely existed for them. In the early 90's VC debuted their first in-house Tourbillon and Minute Repeater caliber's, and few years after that, they debuted the caliber 1400, which in many ways is the re-birth of the modern VC. This caliber helped transport VC from its troubles of the past to its glory of today. Then came 2005 with the 250th Anniversary pieces which has set the template for everything we see now. (Now, the Caliber 57260 will set the stage for the next few decades.)

- In the second link you have provide, Alex pretty much answers your questions.

- As with any production process, early examples of any product / handi-craft will have teething issues etc. Remember, movements are handmade and are handi-crafts. Even if early examples are not as 'superior' as to the ones later and today, they were still the highest at the time they were made.

- Be wary of reviews. Quite often they are based on early models and prototypes and send the wrong signal out. 

- My advice: Find the piece you are looking for, and once you acquire it, send it to VC Geneva for full-servicing. This is the best assurance and guaranty you can have. 


Re: My response: Among the major brands, VC is considered to have the
11/06/2015 - 23:38

Thanks kk- you raise good points and your advice regarding a full-servicing makes sense to me, though (correct me if I'm wrong), I take it that they would not work on a watche's finishing if it were one of the earlier and supposedly less-finished 1400s. However, that does not seem to apply to the 81160.

VC will not refinish a watch movement
11/07/2015 - 02:37

Hello and welcome to THL.

Over the years, iterative changes and fine tuning occur in everything that I can think of that has been designed by man.  So I'm not surprised if Cal. 1400 has gone through this same process.

But VC will not go through and retroactively change finish.  If you decide to get an 81160, you may be happy to know that Phillipe Dufour thinks the movement is pretty good:

Best Regards, Dan

Dan is absolutely correct. However, they will change parts / components, most
11/07/2015 - 09:15

likely also the balance spring etc, so essentially you will have an early caliber 1400 but serviced (and re-lubricated) with newer parts / components. 

So nothing to worry about.

Yes, components will be changed as necessary to ensure proper operation.
11/07/2015 - 09:28

If performance of the movement is affected by wear of any components, they will be replaced accordingly. 

I was referring to redoing any finishing due to purely aesthetic reasons.  BR, Dan

Check re-entrants bevels
11/07/2015 - 10:47

Uncommon at that price-point, because they're have to be handmade. I agree bridges polishings could have been better executed but I've seen worse on movements refinished by another maison, once adopting the Geneva Seal and currently considered (unfortunately often wrongly) the best.

Very helpful replies!
11/07/2015 - 21:53


I appreciate everyone's feedback and information and will certainly keep all this in mind.

You are most welcome. If you come across a 81160 in good condition,
11/08/2015 - 03:36

Grab it and send to VC for servicing. This was on the VC catalogue for quite some time and was one of my favorite VC's 'back-then' and I really wanted it but could not afford it. This was in the early 2000's. And I must have downloaded many pictures of it. During the 90's and early 2000's when VC did not have much in-house and also not much Geneva Seal hallmarked pieces, this piece stood out and held its own with a Geneva Seal Hallmarked in-house caliber and transparent caseback and was 'relatively' affordable, but had an aesthetic and personality that made it look ten times more than its retail price.

Movements and movement finishing aside, the real beauty of this piece is the two-toned / two-textured (not sure what the correct lingo is here) dial. 

Happy hunting.


Thanks again KK
11/08/2015 - 03:59

I'll be sure to post here if/when I'm lucky enough to get my hands on one!

Was just pokig around on the VC website
11/08/2015 - 09:57

...and noticed that it seems to list the cal 1400 and something called th 1400 AS separately. Can someone explain to me the difference? I noticed that the older cal 1400 isn't listed as Geneva Certfied whereas the AS is (though the picture of the original 1400 clearly shows the seal).

1400 had no seconds hand, 1400 AS adds a small seconds hand
11/08/2015 - 12:49

The "AS" stands for "Auxiliary Seconds"

If you look at the picture of the Cal. 1400 movement on the website, you will notice the Geneva Seal right below the serial number.

All VC in-house designed movements carry the Geneva Seal.

Thanks Dan!
11/10/2015 - 05:11

I've always seen the Malte Grande Classique and Patrimony Small Seconds (81160) referred to as simply having a Cal. 1400, despite both possessing small seconds hands. Confusing!  Apparently I need to up my knowledge game. Your insight is greatly appreciated.

My pleasure
11/10/2015 - 06:42

The learning/acquisition of knowledge and minutia are part of the fun of collecting VCs, well at least it is for me smiley

I enjoy
11/10/2015 - 08:41

pouring through the minutia as well, although I sometimes catch myself getting a bit too obsessed about small details (as is probably the case here).


If you could be so kind as to clarify this one thing for me, which I am sure has a very simple and silly answer I'm missing: My understanding is that the 1400 was initially released in the Malte Grande Classique (with small seconds) and then used in the Patrimony Small Seconds. It was only then put into a non-small seconds watch beginning with the Patrimony Contemporaine. Thus, it seems the movement was initially designed as a small seconds movement. Why was it not called 1400AS at that point and why the distinction now?

Re: I enjoy
11/10/2015 - 10:44

I believe the only technical difference between the 2-hand and 3-hand versions of the movement is the length of the shaft for the fourth wheel. 

A. the 4th wheel shaft is shorter when there is no seconds hand. Cal 1400

B. the 4th wheel shaft is long enough for the seconds hand to be attached. Cal 1400 AS

These very minor changes are often made as needed, and not necessarily always planned out ahead of time (this occurs not just with VC, but also in many industries).  When the Malte Grand Classique was introduced with Cal. 1400, the main focus was on the new in-house movement. 

I suspect that later on, when VC decided to make 2-hand watches with this movement...only then did they need to find a way to differentiate the two versions.  Ttherefore the addition of "AS" to represent "Auxiliary Seconds".  I guess they could have chosen a different nomenclature methodology...but that is beyond my scope of knowledge.

There are MANY more idiosyncrasies within the 260 years of VC's existence, but that's what makes learning about the history of VC interesting. winksmiley