Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Grandes Complications
When a brand like Vacheron Constantin introduces a new timepiece, the expectations are high; this manufacturer is synonymous with the pinnacle of Swiss Made heritage, and nothing can go wrong. Currently, eleven are the collections offered by the brand, and each has its pedigree and clear vision. Nonetheless, the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle is the one that best summarizes, in my opinion, the Geneva-based maison's prowess in combining art and refined micro-engineering. The talking piece is, no doubt, the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Grandes Complications, which is not any breaking news. Yet, it belongs to the restricted group of Haute Horlogerie pieces that stand the test of time. Interestingly, this masterpiece was not in the headlines when it first hit the market and didn't receive the coverage it deserved, considering how remarkable is the execution. My only guessing is that the brand decided to keep this collection undercover, while letting a select few lucky potential owners the right to discover it, and upon request.
Introduced in its latest variant during SIHH 2017, the Traditionnelle Grandes Complications is the legacy of a masterpiece like the Tour de l'Ile, a timepiece created in 2005 in only seven specimens to celebrate the 260th Anniversary of Vacheron Constantin. Resulting from three years of intense product development, the Traditionnelle Grandes Complications adds to the endless list of refined, complicated watches the manufacture is admired for. If the 2015 Vacheron Constantin 57260, made up of 2800 parts, is the most complicated mechanical watch ever conceived, the 2017 glorious Vacheron Constantin Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, is once again proof positive of how prolific is the Maison in creating stand-out watches. The Grandes Complications comes in four product variations, two in platinum on white and gray dials, and the other two in pink gold instead, showcasing slate or opaline white dials, respectively.
As the name itself claims, style and complications are quintessentially classic, what you do expect when taking the curtain off a new Vacheron Constantin watch. In essence, the round case has a double steeped design, and the bezel is thin, while the case side is fluted. The dial is a combination of the "chemin de fer" scale, applied "bâtons de Genève" indexes, dauphine hands. While taking a look at the dial, you can't avoid noticing the off-centered displacement of the registers, that enhances the dynamism further and seamlessly blends with the product's overall design, while offering a stand-out view of one-minute Tourbillon window placed at six. This displacement is peculiar with this collection, a family feeling among the Grandes Complications models.
The case is 44mm, across, and 13,5mm thick, the variant pictured here is the rose gold with the opaline dial. The lugs are slightly tapered towards the inside and hopefully designed to ensure comfort to an uncommonly hefty watch. The pink gold diamond hour markers, along with the hour and minute hands, stand out on the large, super-legible dial covered by a moderately domed sapphire crystal. Through the transparent case-back, you are allowed to enjoy of the exceptional caliber 2755 QP (QP=Quantième Perpétuel, else said "Perpetual Calendar"), whose thickness is just below the 8,0mm threshold, that ticks at a 2,5Hz (18000 vibrations per hour) frequency, and ensures 58 hours of maximum power reserve. The 2755 QP is not just a technical marvel, craftsmanship and decoration are top-notch, as testified by the requirements it meets to deserve the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva. The "Côtes de Genéve" decoration on the bridges is just an example of how this mechanical movement is decorated inside and out, even in the most hidden-to-the-naked-eye spots.
Made up of 602 parts, a few ones in comparison to class-leading reference 57260, it offers the following complications. They are hours, minutes, one-minute tourbillon, perpetual calendar, day of the week, month, leap year, and calendar via analog resisters, and, last but not least, a minute repeater complication. Finally, the power reserve indicator is placed on the case backside. Among its remarkable features, mention should be made of the technical solution provided to guarantee a superior chiming performance. The brand's master watchmakers conceived a one-of-a-kind mechanism for managing the hammers of the minute repeater. It is an utterly silent centripetal flying strike governor called the "centripetal governor."
What a pity this is something we couldn't listen to, ourselves. Something negligible is that the Traditionnelle Grandes Complications is not waterproof. Those who love to listen to a chime, while swimming, should look elsewhere, at least among the brands belonging to the Richemont Group. You might, for instance, opt for an IWC Portugieser Grande Complication; I hardly believe, however, that anyone who's buying this piece is standing anyhow close to a humid environment. In summary, the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Grandes Complications is a collector's piece for a select few, whose appetite for such micro-engineering and decoration is endless.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Francesco Falcone @Horbiter®