SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

A visit at the Vacheron Booth is always mandatory when you are at the SIHH... for me Vacheron is maybe the brand which best manages to combine artistic skills with technical features and year after year, I'm still very excited before the unveiling of the Vacheron novelties !

I would like to start by summing up in a few words my feelings about the 2011 crop before browsing the new watches.

First of all, if 2010 was a year full of high complications, Vacheron is more focused on  the "useful complications": Worldtimer, Annual Calendar etc.. without forgetting the usual journey back to the historical roots with the Aronde. Even if I was not as impressed as I was last year in a pure horological point of view, Vacheron at the end has presented a very solid range of novelties, maybe more homogeneous.

My second feeling is a sort of lack of understanding from my part: it is about the decision to use full dials for the Quai de l'ïle line. I remember very well when the Quai de l'ïle line was presented. One of the pillars of this line was the half-transparent dials. They were totally coherent with the design, with the objectives of these watches. Yes, it's true, the readability of these dials was not optimum. But with the black hands, it was really improved. Of course, I'm sure that these full dials will increase the sales figures of the Quai de l'ïle line. Maybe some clients were afraid by the too daring style of these watches in a Vacheron context. But I feel a sort of disappointment because for me, this decision is like sitting on a fence. Anyway, sure that Vacheron had all the good reasons to propose these full dials and after all, the other novelties seduced me enough to make me judge this 2011 SIHH as a very positive one for Vacheron Constantin.

Last feeling is about the key novelty: the Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time. I often read comparisons with the Patek Worldtimer. It is logical but if we look them very carefully, they are so different that I consider this kind of face-to-face a bit useless. They share a similar complication... but that's all I would say. Each watch has its own charm and I really love the complex dial of the Vacheron. It makes me think about the electrix devices from the 50's. And the day/night indication is very charming. I love this watch which is in my top 3 of this year.

I propose you to browse the pictures of the watches now.

Let's start with the Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time.

The watch features an in-house module which allows to read the time even for the timezones which have gaps of 15, 30 or 45 mn. The consequence of the addition of these specific timezones (in red) is that 37 cities are indicated on the timezones ring instead of the classic 24. This ring, combined with the Lambert projector map and the day/night indication makes the dial very busy. And guess what ? I love it ! The only point I don't like is the white color of the timezones ring which is a bit too bright for my taste.

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

The trick of this watch is the connection between the timezones ring and the minutes hand. Moreover, don't look for the usual WT pusher: everything is operated with the crown. Case is large (42,85mm) but due to the dial design, the watch looks smaller. And the shape of the lugs makes the watch very comfortable on the wrist. For me, a beautiful watch and more important, with an unique style in the industry.

The Patrimony Contemporaine Perpetual Calendar belongs to this type of watches for which you are very surprised to discover them as a novelty...  because it seems so logical... so obvious in the Vacheron collection that we don't understand why Vacheron haven't introduced it before.

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

The watch has a very balanced dial with the classic layout with the 48 months subdial. One interesting point of this watch is the use of caliber 1120 as a base with a beautiful rotor. PG Case diameter is 41mm.

The 1954 Aronde is inspired... by a 1954 watch. If you know the french motor industry, you may know that Aronde that also a car produced by Simca in the 50's. Aronde means "Swallow" in french and if you look at the case side, you may recognize a bird shape with its two wings.  This case (44,5x31,2mm) is much more complex that it appears to be at first glance. This new Aronde is classic and original at the same time: I really like the applied figures and the very specific guillochage of the dial (which is divided into 4 parts). The other interesting point is the contrast between the flat dial and the shape of the glass. The Aronde is powered by caliber 1400. I would call the Aronde a typical Vacheron watch: inspired by the past, elegant, original...

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

Like a flying swallow:

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

We enter a different world now with the Quai de l'ïle line. As I said before, 2011 is a pivotal year: a new complication (Annual Calendar) and the full dials are the new features to give a new dynamic to this collection.

The Quai de l'Île Annual Calendar has a very original dial layout, especially the date display. This originality works quite well in the context of the Quai de l'Île case (which is enlarged here: 43mm). I'm less convinced by the font used... and by the price of this Annual Calendar. It is totally overpriced IMHO... The new complication means a new caliber: this caliber is the 2460 QAR. Two dials are available: grey or opaline.

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

The Quai de l'Île Day Date with the full dial is far from being my fav novelty: I much prefer the versions with the original dials. Anyway, the grey dial works quite well... much more than the opalin one. But again, that's my own feeling. Of course, the caliber is still the 2475 which is visible now only from the back of the watch.

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

Grey dial:

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

Same story with the Quai de l'Ïle Automatic: the full dial gives a more "reasonable" style to the watch... which becomes less coherent. The full visible date ring is a good idea in the context of the half transparent dial but here ? I'm not convinced by this version as you can feel it. But again, the idea from Vacheron with these changes is to propose a more classic Quai de l'Ile to enlarge the number of potential customers. Caliber is still the 2460QH.

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report

With this Quai de l'ïle Automatic, I put an end to my report. If you compare it with my 2010 one, you will notice that it is smaller. Vacheron presented less watches but this is not a lack of ambition. 2011 will be a very important year for Vacheron with the new complications and the redifined style for the Quai de l'ïle collection.

I would like to thank a lot the Vacheron team, Alex and his colleague, for the warm welcome and for the time they spent with me.

Fr.Xavier
taste is not universal! I agree wholheartedly on your comments
02/06/2011 - 11:32
regarding the comparaison between the PP and VC WorldTimers, it just doesn't make sense! And as each year comes by I see VC and PP going two seperate paths.... I also agree on the QDI full dials but we are certainly a minority and these watches sold like hot cakes at SIHH, I guess the transparent dials were too avant garde but then again I still laud the VC team for having had the guts to come out with auch a disruptive (for the brand) watch, that's what I meant about universal tastes. Thank you for yet another excellent write up and I'm always impressed by the quality of your photos  
Interesting report FX and I like your photos and
02/06/2011 - 12:48
wristshots. An impressive work done by VC this year too. The new WT is a new advance approach. I like it more and more. For me to be seen again before final feeling. Maybe a WG case could be interesting and my favorite taste, not sure!!! Best regards, Liger
interesting comments and great photos. Thank you for sharing
02/06/2011 - 18:25
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Thanks FX!
02/06/2011 - 20:55
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Re: SIHH 2011: my Vacheron report
02/06/2011 - 20:57
Thanks FX for a fascinating report. I enjoyed your comments and photos very much. Your description of the Aronde was very informative for me. I hadn't known about the inspiration for the design. Regards, Joseph
agree with you on all points - especially regarding QdI... (nt)
02/06/2011 - 22:01
Nt