"AUTHENTIC WATCHMAKING SCULPTURE"
On the occasion of the 260th anniversary of its founding, the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin unveils the seven first models of a new collection called Harmony. Issued in limited editions, these eminently contemporary timepieces feature a new cushion shape and a design inspired by one of the brand’s first wristwatch chronographs introduced in 1928. At the heart of these generous cases with their reinvented aesthetic beat new calibers – entirely designed, developed and produced in-house – focused on monopusher chronographs. A first version equipped with a split-second function sets slimness records with its ultra-thin self-winding movement measuring just 5.20 mm thick, while a second model stages a fascinating tourbillon and the third variation is equipped – like the original – with a pulsometric scale. Representing elegant horological complications that are some of the most highly sought after and most complex to produce, the monopusher chronograph models are complemented by a ladies’ double-pusher chronograph. A trio of dual-time watches housing a new in-house movement rounds off this unusual range of timepieces. Like the other most recent creations from the Manufacture, these special editions bear the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva.
Founded by the youthful Genevan master-watchmaker Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755, Vacheron Constantin is the world’s oldest watch manufacturer engaged in uninterrupted activity since its creation. On the occasion of its 260th anniversary, Vacheron Constantin is introducing the first exclusive models of a new collection. Named Harmony and featuring an entirely reinvented cushion shape, this eminently contemporary interpretation of horological excellence signed Vacheron Constantin draws inspiration from the architectural lines and distinctive design of the first wrist chronographs made by the Manufacture in the late 1920s. Through its perfectly balanced three-dimensional “shape-in-shape” approach, Vacheron Constantin once again demonstrates its expertise as a watchmaking sculptor. This is achieved through a sophisticated case construction dedicated to precision, readability and comfort on the wrist, while pervaded by a disarming apparent simplicity. Moreover, this new generous and boldly distinctive silhouette complements the existing range of round or tonneau-shaped cases characterising the classic collections by the Maison.
The reinvented cushion shape
The seven first references in the Harmony collection, presented this year in a limited anniversary edition, are dedicated to chronograph and dual-time functions through four new calibers entirely designed and developed in-house, along with an evolved version of an existing chronograph movement. This sculptural collection intended to host innovative in-house developments displays a resolutely modern design, while the generous lines of its cushion-shaped case lend themselves to accommodating medium complication and grande complication calibers.
Once again demonstrating the dual nature of its horological expertise, distinguished by the art of shapes dedicated to time measurement, Vacheron Constantin has devised an innovative construction of the cushion shape that has been part of its range for almost a century. A curved case middle, a square bezel and a round watch glass meet and mingle in an elegant reinterpretation of the monopusher chronograph with pulsometric scale presented by the Manufacture in 1928. While the inspiration derived from the original model is immediately perceptible, each detail has been infinitely rethought, right the way through to the specific ways that light reflects off the case, in order to offer a unique and unprecedented shape, combined with optimal comfort. In the same way, each element of the dial and hands inspired by the original watch face has been reinvented to guarantee perfect readability of the functions.
The chronograph in the spotlight
The in-house calibers housed in the Harmony collection feature major technical and aesthetic innovations. For this anniversary series preceding the launch of the full mainstream collection in 2016, Vacheron Constantin celebrates a complication that has enjoyed a key place among its creations since 1917: the chronograph. Interpreted in its most elegantly classical expression – the monopusher chronograph – this collection greatly prized among connoisseurs requires considerable patience, dexterity and experience on the part of the watchmaker who assembles it. Four first models in this new collections embody the expertise of the Manufacture in the measurement of short times: the world’s thinnest monopusher split-second chronograph, with its self-winding Caliber 3500 measuring just 5.20 mm thick: the monopusher tourbillon chronograph, driven by manual-winding Caliber 3200; the monopusher pulsimeter chronograph, with manual-winding Caliber 3300 – a variation directly inspired by the 1928 model; and finally, a double-pusher ladies’ chronograph powered by manual-winding Caliber 1142.
New in-house calibers
Stemming from seven years of research and development, the three new monopusher chronographs presented in the Harmony collection are driven by calibers entirely developed and produced within the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin, completely in keeping with its watchmaking heritage while benefiting from cutting-edge technologies. While the architecture of these movements reflects the traditional aesthetic of Haute Horlogerie chronographs and their classic column-wheel construction, the design of these new calibers enjoys the best of modern manufacturing processes providing a wealth of advancements in terms of materials, precision, functionality, aesthetics and user friendliness. Reflecting the same approach of combining tradition with state-of-the-art technologies, the development of self-winding Caliber 2640DT – which also began in 2008 – delivers a new addition to this innovative range of in-house horological complications by providing a dual-time display. Two elegant masculine models crafted in white or pink gold, as well as a diamond-set white gold feminine versions, are equipped with this useful complication featuring an elaborate mechanism enabling easy adjustment of all functions via the crown.
More than ever, technical sophistication combined with a unique aesthetic are dedicated to differentiated time measurement through various new calibers and complications:
- Time measured and sequenced: the chronograph and split-second chronograph
- Time captured and simplified at a single press: the monopusher
- Precise time: the tourbillon
- Time linked to the heart: the pulsimeter
- Offset time: dual time
In keeping with the finest watchmaking traditions and like all Vacheron Constantin creations, these new calibers are adorned with remarkable finishing entirely performed by brilliantly skilled artisans. Mirror polishing, bevelling, circular graining and Côtes de Genève are merely the most notable examples of the countless finishes patiently applied to components that often remain hidden from sight. Stamped with the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, they meet the numerous demanding criteria of this independent and sovereign label that is a guarantee of origin, of precision, of durability and of watchmaking expertise.
In addition, so as to single out the seven inaugural timepieces in the Harmony collection, issued in limited editions, a scrolling motif inspired by the balance-cock on the oldest pocket watch belonging to the Maison and signed by Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755, variously adorns the oscillating weight, the chronograph bridge or the balance-cock of these models. Also known as “fleurisanne engraving”, this refined ornamentation is reserved for the Vacheron Constantin 260th anniversary special editions and a commemorative inscription is duly engraved on the back of these highly exclusive timepieces.
A contemporary projection of the finest horological traditions
The inspiration for the Harmony collection can be traced to a historical model with a distinctive character, equipped with an extremely elegant and sought-after complication: one of the first chronograph wristwatches introduced by Vacheron Constantin in 1928. This monopusher chronograph with a yellow gold cushion-shaped case was equipped with a 13-ligne caliber displaying a pulsometric scale around the rim of the white dial punctuated by leaf-type hands and painted Arabic numerals. Originally a medical instrument, the pulsimeter chronograph enabled doctors and nurses to take fast readings thanks to the chronograph hand showing the pulse rate after 30 beats on a graduated scale. When placed side by side, the chronograph and original version show undeniable similarities. The aesthetic reference is immediately apparent and the kinship is accentuated by the innate elegance of the monopusher mechanism. Driven by their extreme perfectionism, the designers and developers at Vacheron Constantin have nonetheless gone well beyond merely modernising a vintage model. Each detail, each line, each curve, each characteristic and each reflection has been rethought so as to offer a contemporary projection of Vacheron Constantin’s ancestral expertise. On both technical and aesthetic levels, this ultimate reinterpretation of the 1928 chronograph has given rise to an authentic work of art.
The multiple facets of a horological work of art
The traditional cushion shape is thus transfigured by a three-dimensional “shape in a shape” architecture, while the movement it houses is a distinctively Haute Horlogerie mechanism featuring a unique construction coupled with exceptional reliability and performances.This resolutely contemporary and sophisticated construction, combining a curved case middle, a square bezel and a round glass, highlights a silhouette graced with dynamic curves and multiple facets. Imbued with a blend of purity and equilibrium, the aesthetic of the case creates a perception of finesse in terms of its volumes, while the profile with its stretched lugs provides a flowing, continuous surface for the light to play over, yet without in any way being simplistic. This quest for perfect harmony in lines, curves, facets and reflections expresses the artistry deployed by Vacheron Constantin in creating horological sculptures destined to host finely crafted movements. A true virtuoso when it comes to shapes, the Manufacture excels in highlighting the most complex mechanisms through a unique aesthetic stemming from an authentic artistic approach. Designed to enhance the readability, the precision and the practical nature of the movement they house, these perfectly proportioned volumes provide a first-rate showcase for the Vacheron Constantin and serve to accommodate a wide variety of complications. Destined to become brand classics, the new timepieces in the Harmony collection are part of a modern and daring universe in which technique meets the art of shapes in a remarkable horological sculpture.
A face radiating supreme purity
While the medium complication and grande complication calibers unveiled this year naturally deserved a case on a par with their inherent excellence, creating perfectly readable dials corresponds to the same standards of ultimate refinement. In this instance, the inspiration drawn from the 1928 chronograph gives rise to intense reinterpretation: each original characteristic is re-embodied in the most original possible contemporary expression. Designed with an admirable concern for details, the shapes of the numerals and letters as well as the colour choices were carefully thought through in order to perfect the limpid nature of a complex display and to reinforce its unique aesthetic. The elegance and sophistication of the monopusher chronograph are thus displayed with great distinction in a luminous silver-toned dial featuring painted Arabic numerals and slender leaf-type hands. Entirely redesigned and resized to compose an entirely original creation, the blue painted numerals of the Harmony collection give a unique smoothness to the dial – placed extremely close to the hands in a striking visual effect – along with incomparable legibility. While this reinterpretation preserves the original spirit and elegant classicism of the 1920s, it lends a unique personality to the new Vacheron Constantin line. Imbued with an entirely reinvented historical dimension, the “leaf” shape of the hands characterising the 1928 model also makes its first entrance in the current Vacheron Constantin collections. The slender, elongated shape ensures the excellent precision required by these elaborate movements, while the purity of their outlines radiates an exquisitely refined traditional charm. The delicately blued chronograph hands mark off the specific functions of short-time measurement, accentuating the clarity of the displays translating the intricate workings of such complex mechanisms. In a subtle contrast with the deep blue of the numerals and hands, the minute circle graduations, on which the pulsometric and tachometric scales appear in a vivid red, thereby reinforcing the excellent readability of these gracefully uncluttered dials.
Horological sculpture: the art of shapes dedicated to the measurement of time
With the 3500, 3200, 3300 and 1142 calibers, Vacheron Constantin pays tribute to the chronograph – a complication that has been a key part of its watchmaking heritage for a century already, since it was back in 1852 that Vacheron Constantin created its first pocket watches with an independent seconds hands on “medical chronographs” featuring a dedicated graduated scale on the dial. In 1873, the Manufacture created its first pocket chronograph, and in 1917, it miniaturised it to wristwatch size for the first time. These first models reflected the specific requirements of watch mechanisms capable of measuring short times with extreme precision. Thus, from an early phase in its history, the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture developed expertise in the development of highly technical complications and timepieces, capable of performing scrupulously accurate time measurements, resistant to extreme conditions or intended for scientific observations at sea on in the air. These capabilities are notably apparent in the number of orders for antimagnetic chronograph watches or chronometers that were met between 1880 and 1910. Such requests stemmed from doctors, military observatories, engineers or navies. Vacheron Constantin’s horological science has been gradually honed and extended throughout its history, and the art of “sculpting time” in order to meet highly demanding specific needs is admirably embodied in the Harmony collection.
While the cushion shape was first introduced in the 1920s to showcase one of the brand’s chronographs, previously used in a pocket watch, this same approach has guided the creation of the new Harmony collection. Pervaded by a powerful sense of dynamism and modernity, the unique aesthetic of these new models is dedicated to serving the precision and readability of the elaborate functions. Its sophisticated construction raises Harmony to the rank of a horological sculpture, while the un-usual movements inside it offer a multi-facetted vision of time.
Chronograph: tradition reinvented
Composed of two Greek words – chronos and graphien – which together mean “writing time”, the chronograph is designed to measure short and medium-length events. Fulfilling one of humankind’s oldest dreams, that of mastering time, the chronograph evokes speed and power in the minds of collectors and connoisseurs of Haute Horlogerie. This has made it one of the most sought-after complications since the birth of the mechanical watch in the 1980s. So as to provide a fresh demonstration of excellence in writing a new page in its history, the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin has chosen this complex and refined function to inaugurate the Harmony collection. From 2008 onwards, the Vacheron Constantin engineers, designers and watchmakers set to work, guided by the same spirit that inspired Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755 when he opened his workshop in the Saint-Gervais district of Geneva: developing the most accomplished timepieces, driven by the most daring techniques. From the production of the first watch bearing the signature of Jean-Marc Vacheron to the launch of the Harmony collection, 260 years have elapsed, witnessing the birth of some of the world’s most complicated and sought-after chronographs, all bearing the stamp of Vacheron Constantin’s ancestral know-how. In 1917, the Geneva-based Manufacture presented its first wrist chronograph. Ever since, it has tireless perfected this demanding complication, in order to offers its owner the freedom to write his own time and to control it in a comfortable, elegant and assured manner.
Technical and aesthetic innovations
While the chronograph is a highly coveted complication that has appealed to connoisseurs around the world for almost two centuries, its production proves a highly complex process, due to the many mobile parts composing it. Thus, when the Vacheron Constantin research team began work seven years ago on creating a new chronograph movement, the aim was clear: to create a movement with a classic architecture, while making the most of the materials and technologies of contemporary watchmaking. To ensure its refined elegance and in tribute to the creations produced by the Manufacture in the 1920s and 1930s, it must have only one pusher. Yet behind the apparent simplicity of the chronograph lies a difficult complication calling for great dexterity and precision in order to master its adjustments and enable the owner to enjoy the inimitably smooth and comfortable feel of a single pusher. In the course of the development process, the objective became even more specific: the chronograph movement was to feature a traditional column wheel and a lateral coupling clutch, while incorporating highly ingenious advanced features such as the “dragging” minutes counter and the new “friction” technique for the lateral coupling clutch. The latter manages to address the problem that sometimes impairs the running of a chronograph: pressing the pusher tends to make the chronograph seconds hand give a slight jerk before starting to run. The chronograph was thus entirely redesigned in order to reduce and even eliminate this tiny jump.
Pursuing the crucial goal of developing a perfectly functional, reliable and user-friendly caliber, the quest for perfection was carried right the way through to the smallest details, such as a cone-shaped gear between the winding pinion and the crown wheel in order to achieve pleasantly smooth, gentle winding. Moreover, these new movements also benefit from a cutting-edge technology that served to make an extremely precise wheel profile guaranteeing minimal clearance between the gears – with the teeth separated by barely 0.03 mm! Other technical and aesthetic achievements set the finishing touch to these new calibers combining beauty and technicality. Whether visible or concealed, these refined details embody the watchmaking art according to Vacheron Constantin, revealed in the chronograph gears shaped in the form of the Maltese cross, or the screw holding the column wheel and also adorned with the brand emblem.
Haute Horlogerie finishing and anniversary decoration
Like all creations by Vacheron Constantin and bearing the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, the new calibers of the Harmony collection are adorned with the finest Haute Horlogerie finishing. Among these artisan-style finishes, the most remarkable of which are black or specular polishing, bevelling, circular-graining and Côtes de Genève. Entirely hand-crafted by specialised artisans, the decoration of all parts, including those invisible to the naked eye, requires not only a thorough learning process but also great dexterity and intent concentration. Driven by the constant concern for excellence and perfection that sets an authentic Haute Horlogerie apart from the rest, Vacheron Constantin masters more than a dozen different types of finishing.
So as to further enhance the inherent distinction of the inaugural models in the Harmony collection – issued in limited series – and to ensure them a lasting place within this exceptional celebration of the history of the Manufacture, the Vacheron Constantin designers have created an exclusive movement decoration specifically dedicated to its 260th anniversary. The design team, which normally focuses in the watch exterior, thus had the privilege of dreaming up an original motif inspired by the arabesques that adorned the balance-cock of the oldest pocket watch belonging to the House and signed Jean-Marc Vacheron in 1755. Also referred to as “fleurisanne engraving”, this decoration also appears on the balance-cock, the bridge of the tourbillon carriage, or the oscillating weight of the Harmony anniversary models.