You see, this newly acquired watch filled many tick-boxes on my wish list of things V&C in terms of movement, metal and model. It housed the time-only caliber K1071 and thus its matt silver dial, minus the date aperture, presented a particularly clean face. The impression of being larger than its actual 36mm diameter was indeed surprising.
The case itself was crafted in warm pink gold, resulting from an infusion of silver in the alloy. Complimenting the case were pink gold baton hands, indexes, and original crown. The screw-on case back signified a water-resistant model. Offsetting the vintage impression were very contemporary curved and stepped lugs.
The most distinctive feature of this model was a very delicate band of linen-textured guilloche work applied to the bezel. So ethereal, only the most diligently cared-for examples survived as new. Restorations to the guilloche of the one-piece stepped upper body were highly problematic, with a smooth or satin polish often being the only alternative for marred bezels.
By now you may have surmised that I’m referring to a Reference 6394!
Although instantly recognizable to the cognoscenti, the 6394 hasn’t been favored with a nickname like its cousins the 6694 “Batman” or 6378 “Ecossaise” (“Scottish”, for its tartan-inspired bezel decoration). Horological auction records reveal manufacture dates ranging from 1958 to 1967, fitted with 1071, 1072 (date) or 1072/1 (date and Gyromax) rotor-winding movements. Yellow, pink and white gold, as well as platinum cases were offered.
Dial iconography followed V&C’s usual creative inclinations. While soleil and satine backgrounds were most typical, a tremendous array of designs were affixed with the full range of index and hand styles from the period. Vertical markers were very distinctive while diamond markers were most unusual.
Incidentally, this wasn’t my first 6394. Several years ago I purchased a yellow-gold example from an online auction site, only to discover that clever photography had hidden many flaws. The merchant proved to be as suspect as his wares and refused to accept its return. I eventually sold the piece at a loss. While this experience made me a more vigilant shopper, it also left an unsatisfied itch.
(left)Rakuten photo (right)Crott photo
(left) Joseph's photo (right) deOpwinding photo
Previous owners of this 1961 example were obviously careful. The overall excellence of the watch, accompanied by a malte buckle in pink gold on a well-matched brown alligator strap, suggested a life admired but not worn. Service markings scratched onto the inner case back confirmed a watchmaker’s attention on several occasions. A further, and not insignificant, bonus was the inclusion of a supple pink gold Milanese-style bracelet. While twice hallmarked, the markings did not conform to Swiss laws of the period, suggesting the bracelet may have been acquired in another market. I look forward to further investigations of this aspect.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to the Reference 6394 and welcome your nominations for a friendlier, non-numerical, appellation to bestow upon this noble model; perhaps “Lunette Linge”?