Watches & Wonders 2015 (recap here) saw the debut of the new Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives collection of timepieces for women. “New” in the technical sense, as the point of the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives collection is to revive some of the brand’s classic women’s watch models from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1970s – at least, those are the themes for the debut collection models that together result in a total of eight different pieces. While Vacheron Constantin has a lot of credibility as a producer of high-end men’s watches, their women’s pieces should not be discounted as anything less impressive.
With that said, Vacheron Constantin’s women’s watches are somewhat distinct from those of competitor brands because of their almost totally strict focus on jewelry-style models (for the time being, at least). While other brands like Patek Philippe, Breguet, and Audemars Piguet surely have their share of beautiful jewelry-style watches for women, they are also embarking on creating horologically complicated watches for women. For now, Vacheron Constantin is remaining quite traditional in their approach to making watches for women, and I don’t blame them at all.
While I’ve met some very passionate female watch lovers, I haven’t met too many that have claimed to want high-end highly complicated watches produced specifically for women. A common complaint I do hear from a lot of women watch lovers, however, is that they want more watches which appear to be specifically designed for them versus being sized down or “softened” watches originally designed for men.
Does this mean that Vacheron Constantin will never produce more complicated watches for women? I don’t know about that, but I do know that they really enjoy going all out producing some of the more interesting “novelties” for the ladies that feel a lot more sexy and fun than watches with more complicated movements. Here, the focus is all about the unique presentation of the watches themselves (despite the fact that each of these designs has a more or less direct historical analog).
Probably the best of the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives watch versions is the one that they put the most effort into. The Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Romantique (debuted by me here) comes in four versions – each being directly inspired by a similar model historically produced by the brand as an extension of Art Nouveau design.
I happen to find the “bulging cross” style of the case very attractive by itself and even more interesting on the wrist of a woman. The lavish elements of case architecture design, mixed with precious metals and diamonds make for a functional item that is undeniably connected to the world of jewelry. The statement is all in the form of bracelet and case, but legibility as a wrist watch is also obviously maintained.
Each of the four Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Romantique versions comes in 18k white gold with various levels of diamond decoration. As you can see, some of the models have both cases and dials which are fully set with diamonds. The cases are properly petite for women’s watches being 34mm tall and 26.5mm wide (and just 7.4mm thick). The most basic Heure Romantique model is arguably the best all around in the reference 37640/000G-B030 ($50,000 USD) that comes attached to a black satin strap with a mother-of-pearl dial printed with Roman numeral hour markers. This is the only of the Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique models with actual hour markers, and from there, the collection goes up to the reference 37640/000G-B021 ($59,000 USD) that also comes on a strap with both round-cut diamonds on the case and totally covering the dial.
For a more complete jewelry experience, the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Romantique reference 37640/F02G-B021 ($200,000 USD) comes with a diamond dial and full 18k white gold bracelet (also decorated with round-cut diamonds). This is easily the most feminine of the super-high-end Heure Romantique watches. If you need more diamond weight, however, then you can go with the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Romantiques reference 37641/F03G-B031 ($689,000 USD) that has a case, dial, and bracelet fully set with baguette-cut diamonds. Lovely, indeed.
Before moving on to the other Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives collection pieces, I want to mention that all of the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives watches contain the same movement – which is the in-house made Vacheron Constantin caliber 1055. Very small, at 15.7mm wide and just 2.10mm thick, the manually wound 1055 movement is produced from 115 parts and operates at 3Hz (21,600) with 40 hours of power reserve telling just the time with hours and minutes.
Moving from Art Nouveau to Art Deco, we have the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Discrete. Designed like a folding fan, the Heure Discrete is named as such as it has a dial for the time that can be hidden. Part of the fan can be closed over the dial to make it “discrete.” This style of watch for women’s formal attire was popular for a while because, at the time, it was not considered “proper” for a women to have a timepiece at certain events. Apparently, it was the custom for men to be “keepers of the time.”
Rather than succumb to arbitrary social customs, a lot of women liked having timepieces with hidden dials that could be revealed to read the time and then hidden again. Companies like Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Cartier, Audemars Piguet, and many more high-end watch and jewelry makers continue to produce such “discrete” women’s jewelry watches in limited amounts each year, even if it is no longer considered (as) inappropriate for women dressed in their most formal attire to don a timepiece.
The Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Discrete wears a bit oddly, but that is sort of the point. You could hardly consider this to be a “daily-wear,” and whatever the watch lacks in simple elegance it gains in being noteworthy when noticed on a wrist. I like how the marquetry work on the mother-of-pearl dial seeks to mimic the lines of the fan. The case is produced from 18k white gold and decorated with diamonds. Inside the watch is once again the Vacheron Constantin caliber 1055. The two versions of the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Discrete include the reference 37530/000G-B060 ($163,000 USD) on a black satin strap and the reference 37531/F04G-B060 ($689,000 USD) that comes on a 18k white gold and diamonds “strands-style” bracelet.
While the other two Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives watches are inspired by historic watches from similar eras, the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Audacieuse takes inspiration from the 1970s – and that era’s particular design eccentricities. The Heure Audacieuse watches (they come in two versions, each with different levels of diamond decoration) are meant to look like straps with elaborate buckles. “Hidden” in the design of the buckle is a dial to indicate the time. These Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives watches are clearly more modern and will appeal to someone keen to wear more contemporary or avant-garde fashion, as the other Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives women’s watches are a bit more straightforward in their appeal.
Once again, the Vacheron Constantin Heures Créatives Heure Audacieuse is 18k white gold decorated with round-cut diamonds (reference 37560/000G-B028 – $63,000 USD) or baguette-cut diamonds (reference 37660/000G-B028 – $119,000 USD). Vacheron Constantin isn’t restricting any of the Heures Créatives watches in terms of producing them as a limited edition – but as is the case with exclusive jewelry-style watches like this, production will be small and often available via special order only. vacheron-constantin.com