Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar Watch

Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar Watch

Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar Watch Watch Releases

One of my earliest "controversial" articles that made the watch industry raise its brow was on the first release of the Vacheron Constantin Quai de l'Ile watch collection from back in 2008. I more or less panned the concept and execution of the watch. But did so in a way that allowed even Vacheron Constantin to appreciate and respect my feedback. Last year I was told in confidence by them that the Qaui de l'Ile (QDI) was going to be redesigned, and I felt a moment of pride that my opinions are valuable to at least a few people.

The original QDI suffered (in my opinion) on a few fronts. First was the eye straining design that make it hard to read. Second was the "passport" protections of the dial, and third was the fallacy of "customization." You can read all about my thoughts in the previous article. Now, slated for release in 2011, Vacheron Constantin will release a new version of the QDI. I still can't pronounce the name of the watch to save my life, but I like it a lot better. Retained is the case design which I quite liked, and new is an updated movement and much easier to read dial.

Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar Watch Watch Releases

Aside from the Overseas, VC (Vacheron Constantin) has more or less no watches for casual wear, sport situations, or anything that isn't super classy or super complicated. So the QDI was sort of meant to be it. VC wanted (still wants) to have offerings that appeal to younger watch buyers. While the brand is doing really well with their core collection pieces, not sure how well that "age push downward" has been going. Don't get my wrong, there are a lot of VC watches I like, but I would never think to wear one while wearing shorts and drinking a beer.

Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar Watch Watch Releases

Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar Watch Watch Releases

The new QDI watch is called the Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar. As such, you'll note that it has an annual calendar with a retrograde date hand. The movement is new, but not radical in its difference from the calendar movement from the old QDI. Basically VC just made a few changes, adding the moon phase complication, removing the power reserve indicator, and maybe a few other things. The movement is the beautifully in-house made Calibre 2460 QRA automatic movement. It has a Seal of Geneva on it and a pretty black/gray ruthenium plated 22k gold rotor. The moon phase indicator needs adjustment once each 122 years (assuming the watch is running all the time), and the calendar needs to be adjusted only once a year. The difference between an annual and perpetual calendar are only slight, and annual ones are much less expensive.

The dial is very simple compared to what the watch used to have. It has a simple and straight forward look that is pleasant. It isn't going to win any awards in terms of creativity, but it is something I would gladly wear. The dial has some pleasing vertical texturing as well. I do like the large applied gold hour makers and hands (even though the hands are still arguably too simple).

Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar Watch Watch Releases

While the passport and strange dial are gone, the "customization" is still there. Vacheron Constantin is careful this time around to point at that customization means choosing from a few predefined options. I guess over the last few years watch brands have realized that people are actually reading the press releases that barely put any effort into, and are in turn scrutinizing them. As such, the new QDI seven part watch case can be constructed from a few metals, and I believe you can also selectively choose the finishing (polished, brushed, etc...) on the various case parts. According the VC the case has 700 possible combos to choose from.

Even though the new QDI is a toned-down version of the original one, it does feel more like a Vacheron Constantin. To be honest, VC didn't really that much to change the watch - it is more like a project refresh. The piece now has a classic feel to it, and the case still looks great after two years. This is the QDI that should have come out in 2008, but it will be here for 2011. Glad Vacheron Constantin heeded the advice I, and I am sure other people, gave them. The Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Retrograde Annual Calendar watch will show up for sale sometime in 2011 and be officially unveiled in January.

Some images are used with permission from The Hour Lounge.

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (0)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • I love it! (0)
  • I want it! (0)
  • I’m generally not that much into Vacheron’s designs, but this watch definitely looks great!

  • John

    I am pleased this blogtoread is here, the first line of Quay de l’lle, watches were ridiculously expensive. I am writing this not having checked the cost of these newer versions, but as watch designers tent to think a lot of themselves, (just check out any top designers profile and intro “into their world”, where they are likened to a magician than an engineer. They still, one time in their life actually got their hands dirty, but now they are Gods and you need special licence to even think about talking to them!

    The sad fact is despite what I have recently said this watch will be bought by those who can afford it, and screw those who can’t anyway! The other fact is, this a a mass market watch, just like its icon one its site which looks like a take off the swiss army knife. In truth and in my opinion all but about 1% of all watches should sell for the price anyone who is working can afford. That is not likely to happen. I suspect yet againthis watch will be had by people for whom money is like water flowing into the ocean.

    I doubt anyone will ever listen to me, I am just a poor man, why should they. Well, all men are equal so they say, and will such high overheads a failed watch or two is all it takes to bring a factory to its heels. Did I say factory? Yes, and these watches, despite what they may proclaim, and mass manufactured, but pretend through ‘spin’ they are something other than that. They would be perhaps if they made their Initial watch in Gold and all subsequent watches in precious metals, but, building an empire on stainless steel with a few microns of gold, or gold colour, no matter what they would call it, this is still a steel watch, that should be sold as such, with the cost reflected in the materials used.

    When will these arrogant makers get it in the head they are just workers like the rest? I suspect, never!


    • Duo

      John Biggs, is that you?

      • No, that isn’t him! lol

    • dshon

      “In truth and in my opinion all but about 1% of all watches should sell for the price anyone who is working can afford.” Is there any doubt that VC comfortably fits into this 1%? Do you walk into Ferrari dealers and complain about the lack of $20k cars?

  • Duo

    The QDI! Genius!

    Like Ariel, I could not pronounce the watch’s name when I first laid eyes on it back in ’08. I just read your review on the first version and looked at some of the pictures for the first time in a while and can’t help but agree with you on how hard those were to read. I have to admit though, it was love at first sight back then but that probably was because I didn’t really know what to look for when scrutinizing a watch.

  • IS3515

    I think this is a definate improvement over the first watch but I don’t like the month indicator. If this is suppose to be their sporty watch, then I think they could do better.

  • Kris C

    Hm. I’ll want to see it in a white metal (I love gold, just not the the yellow shades), but this is definatley a better iteration of this watch. VC is not really into larger cases (40mm+), so they may find it hard to break into the younger generation of buyers, but I don’t see measurments for this so I may have just tasted my foot.

    I still love the heavy lugs and the highly “constructed” look of the case. Now I also like the dial. I think the seemingly random subdial placements are quite amusing and refreshing. The month indicator should always be pointing right, and the month disc itself should rotate.

  • Ivan Y

    The original article was hilarious!

    This watch looks fine (albeit not very original), but don’t you feel the original mission of attracting younger demographic isn’t served by this very classic design? They should be putting out more items like Overseas (lame name, BTW) and experimenting along those lines/price-points not making dressy $40K watches.

  • Dangeruss

    Timex called, they want their hands back.

  • Crispin

    Meh! Do you hear me from down here VC?!

    Just how are they considered to be in the same league as Patek, whose movement design stands on the shoulders of Vacheron Constantin?

    And again, Mehhh!