August 11, 2015
by Rob Nudds
You can hear the crashing dismissals of watch cynics around the globe every time a long-lived, much-loved manufacturer releases a new watch for the world to pour over: “it’s just the same thing in a new case”; “no one needs a watch these days”; “why does it cost so much?” By releasing the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Dual Time watch, the storied watch manufacturer has surely ruined the critics’ fun; you see, here is a watch that, in my opinion, hits the mark over and over again. From its classically-styled, cushion-shaped case to its soul-stirring in-house movement, the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Dual Time unabashedly celebrates the brand’s traditions. In an era where a conscious duality, encompassing the old and the new, is so often extolled, Vacheron have the confidence and, quite frankly, the expertise to throw newness to the wind.
The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Dual Time watch utilizes centuries of experience and technical refinement to great effect, while exploiting the kind of precision manufacturing that would not have been available to the company’s founders way back in 1755. The only way in which the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Dual Time is identifiably a product of the 21st century and not the 18th is the level of quality that modern tooling can help achieve – we tried to capture the truly remarkable quality of all components with our macro photography, because even by “grande maison” standards, the Vacheron Constantin Harmony collection got quite close to setting new standards. I think that Harmony is an excellent choice of name for this range because that’s what each watch in this new wave displays in abundance. Old style; modern execution.
Some classic brands have felt the need to scale up the size of their watches to cater to the younger market, desirous of a status piece that catches the eye from across the room. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s simple evolution. But Vacheron has internalised the advancements of material science to evolve in a different direction. It is not at all unique in that approach, but it is, I believe, one of the best examples of redesign and restraint. The case, available in 18k white or pink gold, is sized at 40mm x 49.3mm, 11.43mm thick; that is arguably a more modern size, but is nonetheless on the more sensible side of things – as one would very much expect from a timepiece of this nature. The two sub-dials display the second time zone (at 4/5 o’clock), and a day/night indicator (at 7/8 o’clock).
What is unusual about the Vacheron Constantin Harmony watches in general is the purity of their movements. Each one has been designed from scratch and built with a specific purpose in mind. It is quite breathtaking to see the simultaneous launch of multiple novelties. Normally, it would be fair to expect a brand to bring out a new base calibre and add smaller modifications to it to differentiate the models and their function. Here, though, we see a range united by style and purpose, but separated quite markedly by their internal mechanics. It is gloriously genuine and genuinely glorious.
Watchmaking is a strange craft. Rather than a necessary task, watchmaking has become a compelling challenge. These watches are excellent embodiments of the philosophies of old – a man and his tools, facing a time-honoured gauntlet: Just how far can he go? Just what can he create? How can he push the boundaries in the pursuit of perfection? Vacheron Constantin is a brand that knows itself and its place in the industry very well. The Vacheron Constantin Harmony range is not a cost-cutting money spinner; it is a labour of love.
So what does the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Dual Time watch offer that makes it such an admirable achievement? The calibre 2460DT is an automatic, in-house creation consisting of 233 parts. It is available in two model versions, each limited to 625 pieces. The rhodium-plated movement is enlivened by a finely decorated rose gold oscillating weight. The bi-colour calibre ensures that the engine sits comfortably against either case colour. The case is cleverly constructed to make the most of its many angled surfaces, which catch the light beautifully, softening the whole appearance of the classic shape.
From the top down, the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Dual Time watch looks a lot daintier than it actually is from the side. That’s thanks in large part to the way the flanks have been designed to fall away from the field of focus, allowing the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Dual Time to house a complex movement, but appear much thinner than it actually is. This achieves two goals: to appear svelte and refined, while feeling robust and valuable. Of course, pure weight is no real marker of quality, but this whole piece has a sense of integral worth that is accentuated by its proportions.
The brown leather strap is the obvious choice for a watch of this style and it is situated between solid lugs that flow from the case, making the most of the contoured flanks to retain a reassuring level of rigidity. All in all, this is a finely constructed piece with a great deal of thought put into both the styling and technical aspects. With a price of $40,000 for either version, the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Dual Time is not something most people will be able to afford, but it is one such luxury item I could at least imagine being worn and enjoyed – and the price is actually not that excessive when one considers the quality of execution and movement on offer here. It is not just a watch for the safe or inheritance; it is a watch designed by passionate people for passionate aficionados, and one can only hope it falls into the hands and onto the wrists of those who will give it the respect and use it deserves. vacheron-constantin.com