Dress watches can be quirky and fun, too, and within the strong confinements of the genre, two extra hands are apparently all it takes to achieve that transformation. The platinum-clad Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date watch with a salmon dial is a case in point.

Vacheron Constantin is a serious brand that rarely takes a light-hearted approach to its watch designs. While we see an expanding spectrum of the luxury watch scene introduce a fun element or two — just think about puzzle enamel dials, colorful 3D dragons twirling through watch faces, and the like — Vacheron Constantin is rather more conservative. You’ll make up your own mind on that, but it is safe to say that the combination of a bi-retrograde day-date display and a salmon base color is rather outlandish as far as the 269-year-old brand tends to stretch its comfort zone these days before leaning into six-digit prices.

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On the wrist, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date is a larger-wearing dress watch at 42.5mm wide, an effect amplified by a wide dial (with long hands and small texts) and a slim bezel. Not everyone has narrow wrists, so a 36mm or 38mm dress watch may just be too small for some — it is only right that wider elegant watches exist. That said, this particular Patrimony has a casual veneer (sounds like something a whisky-sour-sipping someone would say with a Patrimony on), and as such, I could imagine it as a daily wearer for anyone living a big-city life. The brawny 22mm-wide lugs further ease the stiff and elegant vibe associated with hardcore dress watches, an effect offset by the petit crown.

Less elegant is the 9.7mm thickness; in fact, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date watch is on the verge of being too thick for the genre. Thankfully, the pebble-like integration between case, bezel, and sapphire crystal saves the day, while the long and wide lugs add character. Platinum is notoriously challenging to finish — it is extremely resistant at first, then heats up fast and becomes malleable and sticky, making it difficult to modulate and finish — but it would have been nice to see one or two extra edges or variations to what appears to be a familiar case design we have seen across a wide spectrum of price points.

The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date watch is powered by the Calibre 2460 R31R7/3 — we should add that some of these movement designations sound as though they were made up to be said out loud at collectors’ dinners in a heated battle of one-upmanship. The 2460 in this guise is 5.4mm thick and comprises 276 parts and 27 jewels. It operates at a 4Hz frequency through a compromised 40-hour power reserve. We’ll get to the good part after this, but a 5.4mm-thick movement at this price point should have already been updated to offer longer autonomy, and the regulating pin and screw system replaced with a free-sprung balance with variable moment of inertia. A mirror-polished plate secured with two screws and some other neat surface treatments are added next to the Geneva Seal stamp to soften the blow.

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The good part is the finishing, which is to say that this Vacheron Constantin Calibre 2460 is a gorgeous piece of watchmaking, thanks in no small part to an open-worked self-winding rotor in solid gold with alternating brushed and polished elements. The rest is stunning, too, good enough to meet the criteria of the Geneva Seal, which, in case you missed the news a few years back, has been updated to include movement accuracy and other performance elements. Gentle curves and sharp angles shape the bridges in fascinating ways, all with the thinnest possible edges beveled and polished. The combination of polished countersinks and polished screwheads — a Geneva Seal requirement — is a nice touch, as well.

The dial is not without its own beautiful details. A personal favorite of mine is the tiny applied dots that serve as minute markers along the edge of the dial, an exceedingly rare design element that I wish were more common on elegant watches, in general. It is a charming, yet elaborate quirk that, for some reason, also looks more difficult to do than large indices. The blue, open-worked arrow hands work in a retrograde fashion, meaning they snap back to the 1st or Monday, thanks to the clever use of arms and snails installed on the dial side of the movement.

As a finishing touch you get a double folding clasp, also in 950 platinum, sporting some surprisingly elaborate surface treatments — arguably more complex than the case itself, which is rare — and the Maltese cross, or at least part of it. Sadly, Vacheron Constantin does not specify the price of this piece (reference 4000U/000P-H003), but you can expect to pay around USD 70,000 for the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date watch. You can learn more on the brand’s website.

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