September 27, 2016
by David Bredan
The highly anticipated SIHH watch industry trade show in January 2017 actually begins with releases months prior, and this annual cycle starts right now with the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Minute Repeater Tourbillon. I was rather tough on the Traditionnelle Chronograph Perpetual that Vacheron debuted just a few weeks ago – even the moon face seemed sad about it – but just on first glance, this new-for-2017 model is off to a better start.
Still hefty at 44 millimeters wide and 12.2 millimeters thick, Vacheron Constantin has thankfully stuck with the unusual but charming dial layout that we have gotten used to seeing with other Traditionnelle Tourbillon pieces, where the indices and minute track are all moved slightly upwards from the center horizontal axis of the dial. This visually makes the round case appear to be slightly taller and perhaps thinner than it actually is – a fun and rare treat among high-end watches to see on the wrist.
To stay with aesthetics for a bit longer, we’ll say that the dial will be available in either silvered opaline or slate grey on the 950 platinum-cased version and silvered opaline on the 18k pink gold model. Regardless of color, the dials have been decorated with a truly exquisite hand-applied guilloché motif that is reserved for pieces exclusively available from Vacheron Constantin boutiques. The trademark Vacheron Constantin hands as well as the hour markers in 18k white or pink gold adorn the dial and help enhance legibility – although the platinum piece with the silvered dial and white gold hands arguably would have been more legible and better-looking with some nicely blackened or blued hands and indices.
The movement inside the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Minute Repeater Tourbillon will be the 2755 TMR caliber developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin. The hand-wound movement is composed of 471 components and 40 jewels, runs at a very traditional (we’ll kindly call it old-school) 2.5 Hertz (or 18,000 vibrations per hour) throughout a power reserve of 58 hours. It measures 33.9 millimeters wide and 6.1mm thick which is substantial, but still in line with modern minute repeater dimensions.
The skeletonized tourbillon bridge on the back and mirror-polished piece on the front help secure the Maltese cross-shaped tourbillon cage, while other details such as the Hallmark of Geneva (or Geneva Seal) certified decorations on all movement parts bring aboard the usual mix of thin anglage along the edges of plates and some select parts, refined Geneva striping or highly reflective mirror polished top surfaces, as well as ample amounts of perlage on the base plate.
Most of the minute repeater’s snails and cams are located on the dial side of the movement, with only the governor, the two mirror-polished hammers, and of course, the gongs residing on the caseback side. As is most usual with minute repeaters, to initiate the function, the slider set into the left side of the case is to be moved, winding up the repeater mechanism for the duration of the musical feature. Vacheron Constantin humbly refers to this half-a-million-dollar new piece as a “prestige model,” so you do receive a nice presentation box with it, with a resonator of sound, “La Musique du Temps,” that helps enhance the sound and harmony of the chiming mechanism when the watch is placed on it.
With all the exquisite details out of the way, what’s left is to get down to the nitty and gritty of it all, the price: the 18k 5N pink gold cased model reference 6500T/000R-B324 Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Minute Repeater Tourbillon will be priced at $490,900, while the platinum version reference 6500T/000P-9949 or 6500T/000P-B100 are a whopping $546,600. vacheron-constantin.com