Vacheron Constantin has chosen today to revive some of the finest moments in the quest for ultra-thinness. The Geneva-based manufacturer has indeed been closely involved in the epic milestones of this distinctive form of expertise, such as in the 1950s and 1960s when Vacheron Constantin introduced the world’s thinnest wristwatches. Today, Vacheron Constantin is enriching its “Historiques” collection with two new creations directly inspired by its heritage, each imbuing one of two legendary calibres with a new and distinctively modern touch. The “Historique Ultra-fine 1955” is equipped with the mechanical hand-wound 1003 movement-the thinnest in the world at just 1.64 mm thick- rebuilt for this model in 18-carat gold, and bearing the Hallmark of Geneva. The “Historique Ultra-fine 1968” is equipped with the ultra-thin mechanical self-winding 1120 movement featuring a new decorated oscillating weight, and bearing the Hallmark of Geneva.
The “Historique Ultra-fine 1955”
For Vacheron Constantin, celebrating the 55th anniversary of the birth of the ultra-thin Calibre 1003 provides an opportunity to revisit its heritage, as well as to highlight its ultra-thin expertise in a period when this term tends to be somewhat overused. Considered by many experts to be one of the most beautiful and refined ultra-thin movements on the market, Calibre 1003 has been defying mechanical laws for over 50 years. It is extremely complex to produce and its adjustment calls upon the full measure of expertise cultivated by a fine watch manufacturer.
Vacheron Constantin has chosen to present a redesigned version of this movement, while its 1.64 mm thickness – still a market slimness record – and its 21.10 mm diameter remain unchanged. Its finishing is however even more refined, since the bridges and mainplate are now crafted from 18-carat gold. Its 117 parts enable it to beat at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations, and endow it with an over 30-hour power reserve despite its tiny size.
The decoration is extremely meticulous: Côtes de Genève, bevelling and chamfering, and drawing the steel parts with a file are all performed by hand. This exceptional degree of finishing earns the new version of Calibre 1003 the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, an independent and sovereign certification awarded by the State of Geneva which thereby guarantees the origin, precision, durability and fine craftsmanship of models from a handful of Geneva-based watch companies.
For its 2010 re-edition, Calibre 1003 is presented in a round watch in 4N 18-carat pink gold measuring 36 mm in diameter, inspired by one of the three historical models introduced in 1955, reference 4961. The latter has been selected because of a design that already embodied a decidedly modern touch at the time of its launch.
The reinterpreted version in 2010 magnifies the aesthetic qualities of the original without betraying its spirit. It also features further enhanced technical characteristics on a par with today’s tastes and expectations: water-resistance to 3 bar, equivalent to 30 metres; an exhibition caseback fitted with a transparent sapphire crystal; a titanium casing circle contributing to the overall rigidity; and an even slimmer 4.1 mm case making it currently the world’s thinnest mechanical hand-wound watch.
The “Historique Ultra-fine 1968”
Vacheron Constantin has chosen to make 2010 a tribute year to its ultra-thin timepieces by reissuing, again within its “Historiques” collection, a square-shaped model dating from 1968 and equipped with the famous ultra-thin self-winding Calibre 1120.
In revisiting this watch, the Manufacture has adopted an extremely distinctive style: that of the 1960s. This 4N 18-carat rose gold timepiece creates a striking contrast between the strict square dial opening and the slightly curving case flanks. The resulting design exudes an impression of elegant understatement, further accentuated by a vertical-brushed silver-coloured dial adorned with simple and geometrical hour-markers.
The pared-down lugs lend a pleasingly strict touch to the overall effect, while the sapphire crystal that is bevelled all around further underscores the ties between this watch and the non-conformist period when it was first launched. Everything about the design echoes the legendary Swinging Sixties through an original model that has in time become a great classic.
Compared with the original 1968 watch (reference 7614), the watch now presented features updated technical characteristics in tune with modern times: water resistance to 3 bar, equivalent to around 30 metres; a sapphire crystal, and a clipped-down solid case-back exactly like the original model.
Despite such improvements, which generally tend to increase bulk, this watch measuring 35.2 mm along its sides is even thinner than its historical predecessor: 5.5 mm compared with 6.52 mm, making it one of the thinnest watches in its category.
Like the 1968 model, the contemporary version is equipped with the ultra-thin self-winding Calibre 1120. This exceptional movement driving hour and minute hands has powered some of the most prestigious ultra-thin self-winding watches in horological history.
Despite its apparent simplicity, it features a sophisticated construction that called for some unusual technical solutions. For this re-edition, the Manufacture Vacheron Cosntantin has rebuilt the calibre: although its dimensions – 28 mm in diameter and 2.45 thick – remain unchanged, it is now equipped with an 18-carat gold oscillating weight bearing the Maltese Cross system. It offers an approximately 40-hour power reserve.
Stamped with the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, its exceptional finishing features Côtes de Genève, bevelling and chamfering on all parts, and hand-drawn flanks.
For more information, please visit www.vacheron-constantin.com.