April 6, 2021
by Bilal Khan
Just released at Watches & Wonders are three new iterations of the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921, celebrating 100 years of this quirky off-center watch. The Historiques American is one of Vacheron’s most recognizable designs with its cushion case, diagonal display, and crown at 1 o’clock and were intended for the American market (thus, the name). It’s designed for ease of telling time while driving, and I’ve always found myself drawn to this creatively elegant collection for its whimsy — something that we don’t get a lot of at this level of Swiss watchmaking.
I learned an interesting fact about the early history of this watch from Vacheron Constantin. American writer and clergyman Samuel Parkes-Cadman had two of these watches because he found that the diagonal dial made it easy to subtly read the time while he was giving a sermon or preaching. Parkes-Cadman was referred to as “the foremost minister of Congregational faith” by the New York Times, but his strongest legacy is his vocal opposition to antisemitism and support for racial equality. According to Vacheron, one of the two pieces he owned served as the inspiration for this new trio of Historiques American 1921 pieces.
The first two are very similar with different case sizes and are essentially white-gold versions of two existing red-gold models. There is a 40mm model and a smaller 36.5mm model, both done in white gold cases with grained silver-tone dials, snailed seconds subdials, black painted Arabic numerals, and blackened 18k gold hands. Oh, and the Vacheron Maltese Cross is also done in polished 18k gold.
There is a slight variance in case thickness, with the 40mm model measuring 8.06mm-thick and the 36.5mm model measuring 7.41mm-thick. Both are water-resistant to 30M.
And then, there is the limited-edition Historiques American 1921 Collection Excellence Platine. Done in a platinum 950 case (40mm-wide, 8.06mm-thick), this joins an existing Historiques American 1921 platinum model but takes down the blue a notch and drastically improves the look, in my opinion. Done in a sandblasted platinum dial with matching sandblasted small seconds subdial, it uses 18k white gold on the hour and minutes hands, as well as the Arabic numerals. It sparingly uses blue in the way of a simple blued steel small seconds hand. This one is just perfection.
All three use the 4400 AS manual wind caliber which measures a slim 2.8mm-thick. Boasting the Geneva Seal, the 4400 AS has an operating frequency of 28,800 vph and a 65-hour power reserve.
I haven’t seen any of these specific three in the metal, though I have worn or tried on Historiques American 1921 pieces on several occasions, and they are just a joy. The Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 in 36.5mm white-gold case (Ref. 1100S/000G-B734) is priced at $29,600, the 40mm white gold (Ref. 82035/000G-B735) is priced at $35,900, and the boutique exclusive limited edition of 100 in platinum (Ref. 82035/000P-B748) is priced at $49,700. You can learn more at vacheron-constantin.com.