Vacheron Constantin Malte small seconds

Vacheron Constantin Malte small seconds “Consider the lily...”

Over-embellishment is transient. Ostentation a distraction. With haute couture it is the cut, the line, the drape, that sets a standard that is timeless, epitomised in the little black dress. The well cut suit does not need embellishment or decoration. Simplicity allows perfection. There is never a need to gild the lily. This watch is a lily.

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Simplicity of form, however, does not mean that in its manufacture it is simple. Such a watch like the classic gown, has the same level of complexity in its creation. Moreover because there is an understated elegance, any imperfection would be far more obvious than a blemish in an elaborate piece with a myriad of decorations and functions.

This watch has a timeless quality. It is classical. Its appeal transcends trends and foibles.

To celebrate..

In 1912 Vacheron Constantin presented its first tonneau shaped watch. It provided an alternative to the classic round face and was inspired by the art nouveau styling of the time. It was inspirational and those historic watches have their descendents in the Vacheron Constantin range. The barrel form still has its appeal. In celebration a hundred years later Vacheron Constantin have revisited this classic form.

Four new models in its Malte range mark the tonneau’s century. Significantly it is the range whose name draws upon Vacheron Constantin’s logo for its identity, the Maltese cross.

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They pay homage to their historic watches and remain timeless and classic in their form, restrained and pure. The one which is reviewed here is the small seconds, refined, beautifully defined and designed.

In 2011 the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva added to its criteria for recognition and the right to have its approval marked on any watch’s movement and certificate of origin. All four of Vacheron Constantin’s new offerings met those stringent criteria and can bear that accolade.

The Hallmark of Geneva

Any watch receiving this approval must be a product of the Canton. It carries after all the endorsement of Geneva. It vouchsafes the quality and standard of any watch which bears it. The certification was first introduced in 1901 but have now been made more rigorous. Twelve additional criteria have been set and the requirements strengthened. Watches have to be hand-finished and undergo extensive testing and rigorous scrutiny. Specific rules apply to all elements in the watches crafting. The result is a guarantee of accuracy, dependability of the movement, the presentation of a timepiece with impeccable finish, polished to perfection and with an overall beauty which gives joy to the wearer. It is a guarantee of provenance. It states unequivocally that quality is paramount.

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This watch has achieved that status.

It comes, therefore, with a guarantee of provenance, of exacting precision, promising durability and the pedigree born of horological expertise.

It really requires no further eulogy or praise but to simply state that would be to fail to admire its exquisite beauty.

The Face

Understated and elegant, the dial is devoid of distraction. It leaves the designer nowhere to hide. What is achieved is a symphony of simplicity perfected.

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The dial is silver, sand-blasted, basking in the reflective glow of the pink gold case.

The hours markers are in pink gold, all except the 12 and 6 o’clock hours a bold raised bâton of rose gold, individually sculpted to follow the revised, curvaceous, tonneau shape. At 12 and 6 exquisitely fashioned applied Roman numerals, their lines thick or thin as they would be if drawn by pen, add their own statement.

The small seconds sub dial, rests at 6 o’clock, a simple circle, recessed with black strokes marking the subdivisions, those at the quarters longer that the others.

All the hands are in gold, sword form.

The gold Maltese cross rests below the 12 and below that the Vacheron Constantin Name and beneath that the proud name Genève whose endorsement it has earned. The same pride echoed in the simple statement “ Swiss Made “ at 6 o’clock. All the accreditations are in black upper case.

The Case

Made in 18 carat pink gold it has a warmth and lustre which that gold imparts.

It is traditional, classic, elongated, delicately curved and stretched, sensuous in its lines. Nothing jars. The curves flow seamlessly around the dial.

The simple grooved crown rests at 3 o’clock and bears the Maltese cross, raised, more the focus of attention because of the lack of extraneous detail.

The lack of embellishment in case and dial serves to draw the eye to the grace and beauty of the lines and the small details.

The Movement

The movement which rests within that glorious case is also tonneau shaped. Consequently it is perfectly housed and demonstrates Vacheron Constantin’s seeking of perfection and harmony.

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It is the prestigious 4400 AS movement with a reserve of almost three days. It is mechanical, manual winding.

Other Features

To tone with the warm tones of the case the strap is in brown Mississippiensis alligator leather with large square scales and is hand-stitched, saddle finished and is fastened by an 18 carat pink gold buckle bearing the Maltese cross.

It has a power reserve of approximately 65 hours. Moreover, it is water resistant to 30 meters.


This is a watch is a study in restrained elegance which speaks to the soul, lifts the spirits, delights the eye and touches the heart.

Technical specification
  • Model: Vacheron Constantin Malte small seconds
  • Reference: 82130/OOOR-9755; stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva
  • Case: 18-carat pink gold; 36.70mm x 47.61mm; 9.10mm height
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds.
  • Calibre: Self-winding; Frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); power reserve 65 hours; water resistance 3 bar (30 metres).
  • Calibre Reference: 4400 AS - developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin
  • Strap: Brown mississippiensis alligator; large square scales; hand-stitched; saddle finish with 18-carat pink gold buckle
We can only wish...
01/26/2012 - 17:48
"The movement which rests within that glorious case is also tonneau shaped. Consequently it is perfectly housed and demonstrates Vacheron Constantin’s seeking of perfection and harmony."
The segment of potential buyers who stay away
01/26/2012 - 18:13
from this watch exclusively because there is a round movement instead of a tonneau movement is probably 100 people, most of whom the crazy watch nuts who polulate HL, PuristS, and TZ. ;-) Assuming that it would cost $3MM to create a form verision of the 4400, would you be willing to add at least $30K to the price of the Malte Small seconds for it to have a form movement? What other models would you create on a tonneau 4400 to amortize the develoment cost over a larger run of watches to make the prices reasonable? Bill
Thinking long-term Bill
01/26/2012 - 19:21
If the Malte range is going to follow the tonneau/lozenge or otherwise shaped case styles for the future, then why not develop a tonneau calibre?  They are just as much a part of VC heritage as the 1003 and 1120 that have been re-established as in-house movements.  I don't believe the financial impact of these was an additional $30k per watch, and I'm sure we could see many more designs from the 30s that would make use of a modern 435 calibre yes
and another thing...
01/26/2012 - 19:41
the 435 tonneau and 457 cushion-shaped calibres were also used in round-cased watches!  Opens a whole new spectrum of possibilities.  Wonder if the 1017 was the last simple manual-winding shaped movement for VC, and if it could be re-established more efficiently than developing a new calibre.
01/27/2012 - 01:57
If VC can justify one for the Malte tourbillion which probably does not sell in the thousands per year (although the margin per piece is probably much greater), wouldn't it make more sense to re-engineer the cal. 4400 (or cal. 1400) to come up with a "new" tonneau movement for use in the higher volume lines like the Malte and even the Historiques Aronde?   A shaped movement visible from the caseback would add to the sales figures too (and help pay for itself).  Unless, VC does not plan to sell tonneau/shaped watches regularly (or unless they want to recover costs asap), I think they should be able ot amortize the costs over a longer period (over more watches) so that there is not a significant price increase per watch. ...then again, what do I know?!sad Cheers! Kazumidevil
01/27/2012 - 18:27
I'm all in favour of a tonneau-shaped movement. I wonder how easy or hard it is to take an existing movement and reorganize its components on a different base plate, and how much it would actually add to the final price...
you can't just take a round movement and reorganize it as a
01/29/2012 - 21:44
shaped movement, the transmission and energy flow, the meshing of gears etc... all need to be rethought which means that its a new development which can't come cheap. Tonneau watches are already a niche market but having an shaped movement would drive the prices way too high. On some forums I saw that there was some comparaison between PP's tonneau Gondolo with a form movement and the Lange Cabaret: The PP is close to euro 30k in list and I don't have the last retail price for the Cabaret but it was not inexpensive and obviouly it did not have the necessary success and was discontinued! All this to say that a form movement is good to have but would buyers accept the price difference?
thanks for the write up Angus but unfortunately the
01/26/2012 - 18:04
movement is not tonneau in the small seconds. Only in the tourbillon!
Re: thanks for the write up Angus but unfortunately the
01/29/2012 - 20:17
Hi Alex Thanks for pointing that out. We have amended the article on our website. I don't know what I was thinking as I included pictures of the 4400AS with clearly a round movement - possibly I am getting too old. I am grateful for your input. I must admit I love this watch, the platinum limited edition was particularly beautiful. I must enquire what is the significance of the image of the Godfather on your profile? I hope I don't have a horses head in my bed for this error! Kind regards Angus
Thank you Angus, great post!
01/27/2012 - 18:30
it is a beautiful watch... Alex, how about a steel version for the Hour Club Special Edition?
me likes what you suggest :-)
01/29/2012 - 21:46