August 18, 2017
Vacheron Constantin, known for conservative design, traditional finishing, and high prices, recently expanded their Patrimony line with the Excellence Platine watch. The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Collection Excellence Platine has all of those things as an all-platinum, three-hand watch with classic looks but contemporary proportions. This could be viewed as one of Vacheron’s answers to watches such as the Patek Philippe 5196P and A. Lange & Söhne’s Saxonia.
The Patrimony line of watches is Vacheron’s take on refreshing the classic dress watch look and design for modern tastes. The Collection Excellence Platine is a phrase Vacheron uses for limited edition watches they release with cases and dials made from 950 platinum. This particular watch’s most distinctive design signature is the case which, as mentioned, is 950 platinum with a thin, polished bezel and simple curved lugs, and is 42mm in diameter. It is also a slim watch at 7.65mm and, based on my experience with previous Patrimony offerings, it may wear rather large for a dress watch and can feel like strapping a dinner plate to your wrist. That is partly because the thin bezel allows the actual dial opening to be larger, resulting in significant wrist presence.
The dial on the Excellence Platine is convex-shaped and also made from 950 platinum which is then sandblasted. Keeping with the classic theme, it is simple and minimally decorated. The baton hour markers and primary hands are polished 18ct white gold (Why? Cost-cutting by not going with platinum?), with a heat-blued steel seconds hands adding a little much-needed color to the dial. A perplexing design feature, to me, can be found between the 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock markers, where the “Pt950” hallmark is printed. I see no reason why this couldn’t have been incorporated somewhere more discreet. And if the intent was to afford bragging rights, it’s too subtle for that, being almost the same tone as the dial.
In my opinion, the movement is the highlight of the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Collection Excellence Platine watch. The caliber 4400 AS, is a manually wound, time-only movement that provides 65 hours of power reserve and beats at 28,800bph, and it is stamped with the Geneva Seal as many other Vacheron Constantin watches are. For a watch at this price point, though, many people might want more unique finishing or decoration than what is offered here.
We will assume it to be executed to the brand’s and the Geneva Seal’s high standards, but the choices for the finishing are very traditional – though that is in keeping with the watch’s conservative character. Heat blued screws, for instance, may have added some color, and the Geneva stripes and chamfering are more or less expected. At this price level, the movement is meant to be as much, if not more, of a visual treat than the dial for watches – so I wish they had done something a little more “exciting.” The movement is on display through a sapphire crystal case back, and the watch is rated at 30m of water resistance.
I have two primary issues with the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Collection Excellence Platine (yes, that’s a mouthful). First, if not for watch release articles like this one, many watch collectors and enthusiasts would have no idea that a new watch was launched. Vacheron could arguably do a better job of communicating with its customers and letting them know about new product offerings.
The other issue is more subjective, and that is that this watch leaves me with a feeling of ambivalence. As someone who enjoys classically styled dress watches and is a fan of the Patek 5196 and Lange Saxonia, I feel underwhelmed. The phrase “close, but no cigar” comes to mind. This watch has a whole lot of platinum in it (apparently, there’s some platinum in the stitching on the strap too!), but not much else to set it apart from some of the other Patrimony offerings.
With a price that is nearly double an A. Lange & Söhne Saxonia or Patek Philippe 5196 in white gold, this watch definitely has its work cut out for it. But perhaps the limited edition component and all that platinum is enough of an appeal to get some collectors excited. The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Collection Excellence Platine will be produced in a limited, numbered run of 150 pieces and ships on a blue alligator strap with a 950 platinum half-Maltese cross buckle for a price of $37,400. vacheron-constantin.com