Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the Vacheron Constantin boutique in Melbourne, Australia. On show, was a brief case full of their manufacture movements cased in clear perspex ranging from delicate manual wind calibres to crazy skeletonised mechanisms. It was truly incredible to have an unobstructed view of the inner workings of these wonderful timepieces and the boutique to myself for some quality, uninterrupted watch nerdery.
It’s not often that you see a travelling display like this and it shows that VC are more happy to share exactly what it is you’re paying for when you invest in one of their watches. There is absolutely nowhere to hide with every mechanism, every finish, available for critique not only to the naked eye but also under a loupe. I’ve been very lucky to see some exquisite movements within the watch community, but to view them from this angle, to action the pushers and swing the rotors without any paranoia that you may make a costly mistake was pretty darn cool to say the least.
With this overview, I hope to share some details of the movements I was lucky enough to handle without getting too technical. However, if you are intrigued about the nitty gritty as to how exactly each lever, gear and spring interacts I would suggest either heading to Vacheron’s website, a trip down the google rabbithole or even getting in touch with your friendly neighbourhood watchmaker as there is plenty to discover.
The calibre 5100 is an automatic movement with time and date functions commonly found in the Overseas lineup. Here we can see perlage (the fish scale like finish) on the mainplate and a date ring circling the perimeter. On the rear, we have a 22k gold rotor which maintains the 60 hour power reserve. My favourite part of the 5100 calibre is the winding mass, not only does the gold absolutely pop amongst the metallic movement but the windrose motif is the perfect inspiration for travel given it is a symbol of windspeed direction, apt for a watch named the Overseas.
Cal 2460 G4
This calibre is a self-winding movement that displays the time without the need for hour or minute hands. The top left and right discs show the hours and minutes respectively, while the bottom left and right exhibit the day and date. This particular movement is utilised in the Metiers D’Art collection, which enables the central area of the dial to accomodate whimsical artwork this line of watches is known for. The pusher on the left side of the movement actions the day wheel, while the pusher on the right advances the date. An example of a Metiers d’Art piece is shown below, taken from Vacheron’s website
Cal 1003 SQ
The calibre 1003 is a petite manual wind movement that focuses on the art of ultria thin watchmaking coming in at only 1.64 millimetres thick. The SQ variation takes this even further by openworking or skeletonising the movement. While it may seem relatively straight forward to hollow out the plates and bridges within the regular 1003 movement, it requires lots of technical consideration exactly where and what to remove to maintain the structural integrity of the movement. The 1003 SQ features incredible hand engraved finishes on just about every visible surface as pictured below. The 1003 features an all gold finish without the skeleton treatment can be found in the historiques ultra-fine 1955 collection.
The calibre 1410 is another classic manual wind calibre by Vacheron that can be found in the Malte collection. The 1410 takes that reliable foundation of the 1400 movement and adds a power reserve indicator at 10 oclock, moon phase at 8 and a small seconds at 6. Here, we can see perlage applied on the mainplate, a moonphase disk that with a lovely glittering appearance to resemble the starry night sky. The pusher shown at 8 o’clock adjusts the moonphase disk.
The calibre 4400 is a manual wind movement that powers the 38mm Traditionelle collection. Featuring an abundance of perlage on the dial side of the movement, this is a picture of classic Swiss watchmaking.
The calibre 1120 takes a thin automatic movement and turns it up to 11. This is no less than an entire ecosystem of beautiful hand engraved finishes both front and back, including a winding mass that is treated to the same skeleton design and a 22k gold oscillating weight. I don’t think I can add much value with words to the visual delight that is the 1120, all it’s beauty is readily on display and endlessy impressive. Without a doubt, seeing this movement was the highlight of my visit. This mechanism can be found in special traditionelle or Overseas models and just when you thought VC has pushed the 1120 as far as it can go, the 1120 QP SQ goes even further. A perpetual calendar module means the watch can track each day, date, month, and even leap year. Essentially, if this watch ran uniterrupted, it would be accurate from today until the year 2100.
The calibre 2460 is an automatic movement that uses a different way to display the date. A retrograde date mechanism pivots on the same stem as the central hour and minute hands, counting each date (left to right) before snapping back from 31st to the 1st (right to left) at the end of the month. When looking at the movement, the central wheels and cams make this possible, while the date and moonphase can be set by actioning the various pushers. The picture of the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony below may assist to explain the retrograde function and how it operates, which was taken from watchbase.com .
Also picutred below is the 2460 SCC, while this movement has the same architecture as the 2460 series calibres it features a special 22k gold rotor to commerorate the now discontinued Historiques Chronometre Royal 1907.
A big thank you for the team at Vacheron Constantin Melbourne for inviting me to enjoy this wonderful exhibition of the brand’s calibres. If you would like to find out more about the brand or these movements, I invite you to browse Vacheron’s website where a comprehensive list of these movements and their watches are listed.
Full dislosure, I wrote this piece because I wanted to. Vacheron Constantin is my favourite brand and I put this together to share it with anyone who enjoys watchmaking. No brand involvement, no paid content, this is for me and the watchfam. Thanks for reading!