Should Chronometers be manual / Historical pieces= useless?

1. I was reading an interview of F.P. Journe in a Robb Report issue (issue was on chronometry).  He said a True Chronometer watch should not be automatic, as the state of power depends on how much it moves on the wrist.  Given this, why do many brands (includuding VC) use an automatic movement for their chronometer (I am referring to the Historiques 1907)?

2. In the same magazine, there was an article on brands which take advantage of their heritage when it comes to timepieces, especially such as VC Historiques and GP 1966. (There is also a beautiful picture of the new 1955.)   It quotes the founder of Antiquorum as saying that "there is something wrong in designing an old car with new technology".  What is your take on this statement?

11/22/2010 - 16:02
11/22/2010 - 16:39
11/22/2010 - 18:07
11/22/2010 - 21:15
11/23/2010 - 02:30
I would love to hear other Loungers express their opinions as well. My
11/22/2010 - 14:59
take would be: 1) A chronometer is considered as being a watch which responds to certain accuracy criteria, considering that an automatic watch will be almost constantly full wound on the wrist means that it's accuracy shall not be adversly affected by its unwinding whereas this is not possible with a manul wind (note that certain brands such as Richard Mille and AP have introduced models which indicate the most optimal state of wind). So with a due respect to Mr. Journe I would tend not to see his point. 2) I think it would be completely stupid for a brand not to take advantage of its heritage and past, especially if its past is as full and rich as VC's or GP's. I would tend to agree that a pure replica of a hitorical piece would be without sens (ie some of the VC Historique models from the 90s) but a tribute is a great idea. Also many may like the look of a vintage model but feel that it can be fragile, or too small or too expensive etc..  and these historical pieces can appeal to them
Thanks Alex...1 more question...
11/22/2010 - 15:32
How is the movement of the VC 1907 different from the automatic on which it is based?  What does VC do / add to it to make it a chronometer?
same movement but
11/22/2010 - 16:02
has undergone COSC testing and re regulated after I had written an article on the Chronometre Royal and at the end explain the rregulation and testing: click here to read the article
my 2 cents
11/22/2010 - 16:39
Hi kk (and Alex), I haven't read the article, but based on your questions: 1. I am guessing that when Journe refers to a "true chronometer" he may have been referring to one of the older definitions of chronometer?  i.e., with a detent escapement for Marine use (such as Harrison's H4) use or maybe one that passes Observatory testing? The timing standards for chronometers was actually much higher in the past, before COSC (often less than 0.5 seconds per day at most).  You can refer to a pocket watch that Dean, aka Tick-Talk, posted about earlier this year that has been tested at competitions at the Geneva and Kew Observatories.  To acheive this type of performance, every little detail comes into play. 2.  I like the Historiques line in general, and that comes from a vintage lover.  I would always consider buying the original vintage piece if there wasn't something significantly better in my mind about the watch made as tribute.  For example, I like the redesigned cal 1003 that VC came out with in gold, which would lead me to prefer the 1955 vs. the ref. 6099 that it is based on.  On the other hand, I prefer the triple date Ciccolatone much more than the Toledo 1952 that is it's tribute (although I could never afford the original, which is one of the reasons that Alex mentioned for having tributes.  I guess these 2 watches just aren't in my future).  Also, I think many designs are evolutionary and there is nothing wrong with utilizing or adapting designs, of your own, from the past. Best Regards, Dan
I'm with Alex
11/22/2010 - 18:07
Especially on point no2, where often the old models are too rare/expensive, and often too small...  The 1921 is part of the top 5 on my wish list
Re: Two questions for Alex...
11/22/2010 - 16:34
1-chronometer : just means an accurate watch that passed tests, as Alex sais if your spring stays in the "best zone", it would be more accurate. So an automatic chronometer make sense for me, I do not agree with Mr Journe. Basically Rolex had made industrial very accurate watch for nearly 100 years and they are automatic, same for an ETA, when they are well regulated (in Breitling for example). For the Chronomètre Royal, as it is presented and because it is "historique" I would prefer a manual winding on this special case. 2-Historic: a perfect copy of an historical watch dosen't go in the direction of developpment, but it is always difficult to make a modern evolution of an historical watch. 99% of them are not as good as the original one. VC succeeds quite well with historique collection: 1921 and 1955 are fantastic.
Good questiones ...
11/22/2010 - 17:22
and my humble contributions. 1) Technically - automatic and handwound is possible. Personally - a true Chronometer has to be handwound, even when it is subjective. 2) "Take advantage of their heritage" is a must for me (if there is one!), but it has to be done properly. Good and bad examples came to my mind Real improvements are welcome, but stupid "blow-up" only or "marketing shi shi"only is a no-go - at least for me.
I competely agree with your response Alex! (nt)
11/22/2010 - 17:53
Old car with new technology
11/22/2010 - 18:12
I don't know enough about watches to really comment about whether a chronometer should be a manual wind or an automatic wind, but as for tribute watches, why not? If it were purely about technology and performance, we'd all wear quartz digital watches with 1/100th second chronographs, alarms, perpetual calendars, dual time-zone, lights, etc. at a fractionth of the cost. Hmm, sounds exactly like what I wore in the past. The prestigeous brands like VC have a history, and ignoring their heritage would make them no different from any other brands. It's not to say that all their watches should be backward looking--at that point, the brand would be stagnant--but there is nothing wrong with some tribute pieces in recognition of its past.
KK I changed the title of your post as to set the questions since it
11/22/2010 - 18:19
seems to be subjects which interest the Loungers
Re: KK I changed the title of your post as to set the questions since it
11/22/2010 - 18:43
No problem Alex...:-) I am glad my post was of interest to other loungers. Thank you all for your responses. - I love the 1907; when seen alongside other VC's. it has such presence, even though it is a time only watch. Thanks for the article, which I do recall.
I personally don't think the Chronometre Royal 1907 should be part of
11/22/2010 - 18:51
the Historiques collection as its modern version is not a reinterpretation of a histiorical model but a brand new watch! But then again the Chonometre Royal came in different designs and its name refers more to its caliber than design.
Speaking of Historiques pieces...
11/22/2010 - 18:57 seems that the 1968 is not getting as much attention as the 1955 ! What do you think of the 1968?
I think the 1968 is not getting attention since few have seen it and
11/22/2010 - 19:15
it has neither been publicised nor even delivred. I think we will hear more of it once deliveries start. I'm not a huge fan eithe of the 1955 nor the 1968 on a puerly design perspective, they look too much like the originals replicas rather than tributes.
I am not surprised...
11/23/2010 - 07:37
after the 1921, it must be really difficult to launch a historiques with the same impact. Also, does the 1955 really qualify as a genuine Historiques pices, because until recently, it was a regular production model. Do you think it would look good with a black or slate dial?
the caliber 1003 was used but not with that specific case which dates
11/23/2010 - 10:04
from 1955 so yes I would say it is a true Historiques Not sure about a dark dial though...but that's just a matter of taste
Alex, I am biit confused...
11/23/2010 - 12:25 the Historiques 1955 the successor or the re-intrepreted version to the Patrimony Extra-Slim which also uses the Calibre 1003? If not, then can you share pictures of the original 1955? The Extra Slim is featured in VC's current (2009-2010) catalogue.
neither a successor nor a reinterpretation the Historiques 1955
11/23/2010 - 12:57
is inspired by one of the original models launched in 1955 ref 6099
Thanks Alex...
11/23/2010 - 14:23
...the new 1955 looks very similar to the original...I see what you mean. That means the Patrimony Extra Slim is still in production ? Is this the watch to be featured in the Phidias 999 greatest objects of last century?
11/23/2010 - 14:32
Re: I personally don't think the Chronometre Royal 1907 should be part of
11/22/2010 - 19:04
Hi Alex, As you say in your post above, Chronometre Royals are less a product line of designs than they are of calibres.  I remember in your original article about the CR 1907, you thought it would be great if VC used the CR name/line as a proving (testing) ground/focus on Chronometry.  I'd love to see something like that...maybe linked with Timelab somehow? As a total side note, in terms of CR design, I prefer them without a date function.  Pure, time only, chronometry focused. BR, Dan
11/23/2010 - 17:12
Automatic date watches are a significant part of the CR heritage...
Re: ??
11/25/2010 - 09:30
Hi Dean, I understand that guichet dates started showing up on the CR with the 1072/1 auto. movements in the 1960s and after that, all of the CRs up until the Historiques CR 1907 have a date function. I'm just saying I prefer CR's without the date function.  I like the idea/concept of watches that are focused on chronometry to have all of their engineering resources/focus on precision and reliability.  To me the date function doesn't add to that, also from an aesthetic point of view, I think it breaks up the dial.  Ideally, I would have loved it if VC made a version of the 1072 with Gyromax balance but without a date.  That would be my perfect vintage automatic movement.  I think you were looking for one at some point in time as well?   Unfortunately I don't think they exist. BR, Dan
To be continued...
11/26/2010 - 18:15
We'll have to discuss this further over scotch in Geneva Dan
I'll buy the first round...;-)
11/27/2010 - 07:58
And that goes for any other Lounger that wants to sit down and "discuss" this All the best!  Dan
Re: Should Chronometers be manual / Historical pieces= useless?
11/22/2010 - 19:37
My personal preferrence has always been for a manually wound watch, Chronometer or not. I love the idea of the new Historiques with Vacherons new exciting in-house movements. Miki
Re: Should Chronometers be manual / Historical pieces= useless?
11/22/2010 - 20:00
1. not sure about the true horological definition. my opinion is it doesn't matter as long as it meets the chronometer parameters. personally, i would prefer a time only watch in hand wind unless they are able to make the movement slim.  2. why should heritage be baggage? it should be an asset. architect does not invent, they build upon the wisdom of the past. even cars, they twig their heritage lines and put a better engine of  new superior technology to meet current needs. no plagiarism accused if the brand uses their heritage either. so it should be an asset to have 255 years of history.
Worthwhile Discussion...
11/22/2010 - 21:15
IMHO Mr. Journe is revealing a very reactive side of his personality.  Yes, in the past a manual movement was more suited to the competition of chronometry, which also included the largest movement and balance possible thus restricting the involvement of early wristwatches.  However, with modern technology automatics can achieve amazing timekeeping.  Seiko's Spring Drive is evidence of future thinking, although purists should wish for a purely mechanical solution.  As Dan pointed out, our frame of reference regarding chronometer standards should change from the rather weak COSC measures to something akin to the 2009 Concours International de Chronométrie competitions which are scheduled to continue in 2011 click here to see the site.  The competitions did prove that tourbillons are more than just a pretty face with JLC taking top prizes using tourbillon movements. As for the issue of a strong heritage influencing certain brands more than others, it seems the market has already decided on the merits of this if Patek, VC and AP are the world's leading luxury watch brands.  LOL, most other brands don't have a long enough heritage to look back upon!  Beauty of form and ingenuity of design are timeless so those manufacturers that remain true to their patrimony will always present us with past and future classics to be coveted.  As long as any hommage piece incorporates technical or design improvements, I cannot see a downside to linking past, present and future.
Have a preference for Manual
11/23/2010 - 02:30
Sometimes, you can be right for wrong reasons! And in my humble opinion, it is the case with Journe's statement. I really think that Chronometers are much more attrative with manual winding. But not because of a pseudo technical argument. My (very subjective) view is that Chronometry is a quest, a quest for infinite precision, where all the efforts are focused on the purest design, the cleanest manufacturing and the perfect adjustment. As soon as you start to add complications whose first objective is not to improve precision, you move away from Chronometry. From this point of view, I would discard the automatic feature for an ideal Chronometer. Then, concerning the use of past & heritage by watch companies, I don't understand the comparison (as often, with the comparison between watch and car...). As soon as mechanical watches are not used anymore as precision instruments, there are a tribute to a traditional know-how, even when the most sophisticated CNC machines are used. Therefore, taking advantage of its heritage is a must-do for a watch company. A rich heritage should be both a source of inspiration and a pressure for excellence ... and not an excuse for lazyness !
exactly! heritage is a preassure for excellence and not lazyness! well
11/23/2010 - 10:08
Re: Should Chronometers be manual / Historical pieces= useless?
11/23/2010 - 10:04
1. My problem with the VC CR automatic movement is that, provided I had that beauty, I would be wearing it strapped inside out just to keep watching that cool rotor working and I would never know what time it is........ 2.  I believe that Porsche has made a point with heritage that nobody can dispute........
What's wrong with an automatic chronometer?
11/23/2010 - 10:16
I think automatic and manual chronometers present different challenges. I actually think the automatic is harder to execute. The reason is that a manual watch will always wind down from full reserve to 24 hours low in a 24-hour period. With an automatic watch, you never know. One day the wearer may go for a walk; the next he may sit in an office all day. One night he may put the watch down for a bare six hours' sleep; the next he may sleep late and neglect to put his watch on at all until lunch time! As far as I'm concerned, if a watch company can design a movement that copes with all those variations and maintains chronometer specifications, good for them. On "old cars with new technology," I sympathize with the sentiment. I am not a stickler for perfect historicism, but for me the key consideration in a mechanical watch is reparability. Old watche were designed to last forever. I find new technology that prevents a skilled watchmaker from fully restoring a watch to be objectionable.
Re: Should Chronometers be manual / Historical pieces= useless?
11/23/2010 - 22:14
Hi kk I think the broad sentiment here says it all, and I think I am in violent agreement with everything the community has written. Specifically my points would be 1. What does it matter if it is auto or manual? The point is that it needs to be confirmed as consistently achieving an accuracy of rate to a tighter specification. The customer will vote with his feet at the end of the day. 2. Design and use of Heritage is intrinsic in any 'historic' brand, or product, in my view, and we see it all around us. Perhaps it is cyclical, and trends come and go. Old properties are regularly renovated so that they maintain their charms, but are brought bang up to date re Technology. Owners of vintage Aston Martins, Jaguars, etc are regularly updating the suspension and engines to modern technology and maintain the original design. Double bubble! Charm and Sophisticated technology... Prince Charles has, apparently, converted his Aston martin Volante to run on chip fat (bio fuel... how Green!). I still think it looks cool... I love Mr Journe's watches - but that doesn't mean I have to agree with his views on this! Gary