Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin

It should be of no great surprise to my fellow Loungers that I believe Vacheron & Constantin’s wristwatches of the 1950’s and 60’s to be among the finest timepieces ever created. Within that era, I can further refine this favoritism to those housing the Geneva Seal ruby-roller marvels; the caliber 1070 family of automatic movements. So when the chance arose to add a distinguished example to my display cabinet, I had to take it. Never mind that it was only a few weeks before the annual Christmas orgy of gift-giving and resulted in much eye-rolling by family members…I would live with the shame.

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.

Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin

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.

Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin

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!

Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin

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.

Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & ConstantinRef. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & ConstantinRef. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin
Antiquorum Photos

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.

Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & ConstantinRef. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin
(left)Rakuten photo (right)Crott photo

Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & ConstantinRef. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin
(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.

Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & ConstantinRef. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin

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”?
01/06/2011 - 03:32
01/05/2011 - 22:12
01/06/2011 - 21:34
01/06/2011 - 21:48
01/07/2011 - 18:04
Awesome write-up, Dean. Great piece, yours is the nicest of the batch
01/05/2011 - 21:17
Congratulations, buddy! May it only time happy moments
Thanks Man!
01/06/2011 - 03:32

After reviewing all the variants for this write-up, now I'd really like to have an example of each

Very Enlightening Review!
01/05/2011 - 22:12
Excellent write-up and congratulations on this fine acquisition.   I have to ask about the watch on the left in the second to the bottom row of photos (Joseph's Photo).  What is the colorful design on the dial, and does it have the guilloche bezel?  It looks quite smooth in the photo.   I love the vertical markers in the example just above that one!
Very informative for a fellow 6394 owner
01/05/2011 - 23:05

I've also got a 1960's VC, which tick-talk identified for me as being a 6394. It hasn't got the guilloche bezel and unsure whether it did at some point in the past. The soleil dial is amazing and the time-keeping impeccable. Think I'd prefer the dauphine hands (mine has batons). I love hearing the ruby-rollers doing their business. One day I'll figure out how to open up the back and find out whether it's a gyromax or a swan's neck! Another suggestion for a nickname: Classique A couple of scans (best I could manage):

Very nice...
01/06/2011 - 03:44
but you need a new camera .  That champagne dial does look great...amazing how the baton hands suggest "Classique" but dauphine hands would surely say "Le Sporif". Removing the caseback is a tricky afffair and I DO NOT recommend those Jaxa-type 3-prong adjustable jaws as the flats of the V&C screw-on caseback are extremely shallow and slipping is a real possibility.  If not on too tight, a Horb ball works wonders!
I want an EDIT function!
01/06/2011 - 03:46
because my thick fingers typed the wrong spelling...I meant Le Sportif or sportsman
second that ! look at my post's "yo u" below .nt.
01/06/2011 - 15:01
Re: Ref. 6394: aTypically Untypical Vacheron & Constantin
01/06/2011 - 02:02
Hi Dean, A very nice description with great photos. Yours is the nicest of the bunch. Thanks for including mine, or my former watch, I should say. We parted company recently. Best wishes, Joseph
Joseph, perhaps you could answer Maberlin?
01/06/2011 - 03:31
He asked about the unique dial of your ex-watch.
Re: Joseph, perhaps you could answer Maberlin?
01/06/2011 - 18:41
Since I do not have the watch any longer, I will have to find my photos and get back to the thread. Regards, See you soon! Joseph
yet another fantastic addition to your collection! the textured case
01/06/2011 - 09:43
side just shows how far VC is willing to go in detail. Wear it in best of health and hope to see it at SIHH!
BTW did you know that the nickname "Batman for ref 6694 was found
01/06/2011 - 09:46
here on the Lounge? :-)
Thats Amazing!
01/06/2011 - 18:03
Just shows what influence we can  have
To be saved under ref. 6394! Great article, Dean, as usual!
01/06/2011 - 13:34
If I would have known all these facts when I had mine, perhaps I kept it, no it's beautiful, but still to young for me, like some other things, it's better for me to watch and not touch Thanks a lot for very educational article which should be in the archive, of course, but also because of the 'Dean touch', that I always appreciate Enjoy life Doc
Your theory is true, Doc
01/06/2011 - 21:34
That people are drawn to objects from their younger years.  I absolutely adore 50's and 60's racing automobiles too
dean,yo u never fail to impress with yr search for material and..
01/06/2011 - 14:45
fine examples of VC watches. thank you for your effort of this resourceful article and congrats to the gem you have uncovered
Yo! Sounds like you are going "gangsta"...
01/06/2011 - 18:07
See Alex...two votes for an "edit" function
Dean raises the bar and delivers a cracker!....
01/06/2011 - 17:03
It is always a pleasure to read your despatches and this one, to kick-start the New Year, is no exception. Thanks, Dean. Tony
Just noticed your favorite saying, Tony
01/06/2011 - 21:36

I like it!  We follow the same ethic

Great report Dean, and congratulations...
01/06/2011 - 17:35
There is nothing about this watch not to love! The engraved caseband is a beautiful touch. Wear in the best of health and enjoy for many years to come. Best, Mike
A bit embarrassed...
01/06/2011 - 21:48
I didn't intend to tout my own watch as much as feature the reference and all its variations.  I suppose the lesson learned that patience will be rewarded is in there too...I waited over 2 years to find this example .   The most common faults of others I considered were, of course, damaged bezels.  Marred dials and over-polished cases were frequently encountered.  Another all-too-common annoyance: vertical brushing on the screw back, which didn't appear until the 70's.  The original was circular brushed but many watchmakers lack the equipment to do it properly during restoration.
Forgot to ask - the stunning dial on your new 6394 -
01/06/2011 - 22:44
is it silver? I love the case too. Wear it in health. By the way, i'm pretty sure it's the photographer and not my camera that's to blame for my poor photos!
Thanks for your review!
01/07/2011 - 18:04
You are absolutely wright, Vacheron knows how to be "untypical" in a very classic watch, that make them so interesting :) Enjoy Francois
Thank you for the review, Dean
01/10/2011 - 11:54
It's such a beauty and with an ubergorgeous movement as well. I hope it brings a smile to your face for several years to come.