As the oldest continuous manufacture in the watchmaking industry, the pedigree of Vacheron Constantin is beyond repute. Refreshingly, one thing this brand does well (that so many ‘heritage’ maisons do not) is commit fully to new ideas. It’s clear with the release of the Vacheron Constantin les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar that the brand has tried to add a dash of novelty to the traditional perpetual calendar layout, but whether they’ve succeeded or not, is up for debate.
Brand: Vacheron Constantin
Model: Les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar
Water Resistance: 30m
Case Material: 18k white or rose gold
Crystal/Lens: Sapphire crystal
Movement: In-house 1731 QP hand wound mechanical with striking mechanism
Frequency: 21,600vph (3Hz)
Power Reserve: 65 hours
Strap/Bracelet: Dark blue Mississippiensis Alligator leather
Price & Availability: One piece of each case material. Price on request
My initial response to this complex timepiece was to sit squarely on the fence. The good: the movement. The less good; a dial that could be described as dull as easily as it could restrained—it’s not dreadful, but it failed to touch me in any way whatsoever.
When it comes to Vacheron Constantin I never make snap judgements. Time and time again, watches that initially wash over me have crept up in my estimation as time passes.
Case in point: the release of the Vacheron Constantin FiftySix proved that the brand was willing to shed its arguably stuffy image in favor of a more youthful style. At first, I hated it because it didn’t look like a Vacheron; then I fell in love with it because it looked exactly like a FiftySix.
The Vacheron Constantin les Cabinotiers Minute Repeater Perpetual Calendar is imperious from the back, with beautiful inscriptions encircling the movement, visible through an AR-coated sapphire crystal. The caliber itself is excellently laid out and finished, but I did struggle with the dial layout and the questionable balance of its informative elements.
The delicate and expertly pad-printed minute track (backed by sharp, circular graining) is top drawer. I’m not sure the stud hour markers match the elegance of the spade hands, but there is no question of the quality on display here. In my opinion, however, the dial-side aesthetics miss the mark just slightly.
Although the price is yet to be confirmed, it seems very likely both of these unique pieces will run into six figures. From a purely horological perspective, they are both mechanical triumphs. For watches of this complexity, however, I would prefer to see either flawless dial balance (like the Patek Philippe 5207P Perpetual Calendar), or an avant-garde take on the display (something along the lines of the MB&F Legacy Perpetual Calendar). But I’m sure this one will split opinion, so why not let us know yours in the comments section below? vacheron-constantin.com
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