Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300
Angus Davies reviews the new Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300 and finds a watch which sets his pulse racing.
This detailed review of the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300 includes live images, specification details and pricing.
Similar to owning a car which has covered a six-figure mileage, as one enters the cardigan-wearing period of middle-age, each rattle and wayward noise causes a moment of anxiety. I am forever concerned about the state of my shock-absorbers and fearful my big end may suddenly fail. With the onset of grey hair, my mortality has adopted a new-found gravitas.
Sometimes the sight of an object can influence my heart rate. It may be the image of a dangerous animal on a cinema screen which causes my pulse to quicken and the palms of hands to my become sweaty. On other occasions, it could be the unbridled beauty of an object that accelerates my heart to a dizzying tempo. The facility to monitor my pulse sounds very appealing at this phase of my life and Vacheron Constantin has recently launched a new timepiece suitably equipped for the role, the Harmony Chornograph Calibre 3300.
Vacheron Constantin is celebrating its 260th anniversary this year. The company was established in 1755 by Jean-Marc Vacheron and is reputedly the ‘world’s oldest watch manufacturer engaged in uninterrupted activity since its creation’. To mark this landmark year in the maison’s history, Vacheron Constantin has recently unveiled its ‘Harmony’ collection, featuring seven new timepieces and four new calibres.
The name ‘Harmony’ alludes to the fusion of differing shapes into one homogenous form. The frontal appearance of the watch is square with rounded corners, the case band is curved and the aperture for the dial is circular. Despite the seemingly disparate shapes employed, the culminating profile is exquisitely resolved.
Each model within the Harmony collection is limited and the list of new references includes options for both gentlemen and ladies. I have succumbed to the charms of several of the new Harmony models and openly admit to having a soft spot for the watches bearing the Maltese Cross.
The inspiration for the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300 was a monopusher chronograph from 1928. This historical piece featured a pulsimeter scale on the dial, a bi-compax layout and poire-shaped hands.
1928 – Mono-pusher minute-counter chronograph, N° 11059
The pulsimeter scale was originally conceived for use by doctors and nurses in bygone times, allowing the wearer to actuate the chronograph and count 30 beats of a patient’s heart. Once the thirtieth beat had been noted, the chronograph was stopped and the patient’s pulse read from the scale. Today, electronic heart-rate monitors can deliver this functionality for relatively modest sums of money, but the charm of the pulsimeter scale remains profound.
Vacheron Constantin has clearly drawn on the styling of the 1928 timepiece but imbued the new Harmony with its own identity. The design of both the lugs and the crown of the new watch appear to exhibit a more robust character but without any diminishment in the overall sense of grace.
At first glance, the dial of the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300 may seem congested with numerous details to assimilate. However, rest assured, that within a few moments of making its acquaintance everything makes perfect sense.
The dial canvas is silvered opaline, quiet and unassuming in temperament, providing the ideal foil to present the various functions of the timepiece.
Gold poire-shaped hour and minute hands exhibit an air of classicism.
Blue painted Arabic numerals exhibit a traditional feel and sit adjacent a black minute track. Encircling the periphery of the dial is a pulsimeter scale, occupying the area from 2 to 9 o’clock and depicted in red.
Equilibrium is accorded to the dial with the positioning of two subdials on the face of the watch, similar to the 1928 reference. A 45-minute chronograph register features at 3 o’clock, with a small second display located opposite.
At the base of the dial, a power reserve indicator reveals the proportion of the stated 65-hour power reserve still remaining. The inclusion of this function is an obvious point of difference between the modern-day watch and the original timepiece from 1928.
The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300 measures a stated 42mm x 52mm which suggests it should occupy a large area upon the wrist. However, these measurements include the lugs and once these are discounted, the watch does not seem unduly large when worn.
The spring bars holding the strap in position are curved, heightening wearer comfort.
Where the case of this timepiece reveals much complexity is with the numerous angles employed. The bezel is square with rounded corners and sits atop the middle section of the case. This creates a stepped profile to the case construction and produces arcing lines of shadow adjacent the bezel.
The case back is almost a facsimile of the bezel, save for the four screws holding it in place and the horizontal surface adjacent the sapphire crystal.
While photographing the Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300, I soon became aware of its complex sculptured profile. The thoughtful design of the case ensnares ambient light from different angles and grants a delightful depth to the each facet presented. Indeed, the case reminds me of a diamond where a moment of twinkling brilliance is temporarily there only to disappear in the blink of an eye.
The aforementioned crown incorporates a neat fluted design on two thirds of its surface and the monopusher is adorned with the Maltese Cross on its vertical surface.
The new hand-wound Calibre 3300 was developed by Vacheron Constantin and took seven years to create but, based on appearances alone, it was worth the wait.
Despite being a new movement, produced in-house by the maison, the design appears very traditional with many of the movement components being freely shown. It is this aspect of the movement architecture that I particularly appreciate.
The watch bears the coveted Poinçon de Genève motif, illustrating a high degree of expert finishing and the no-compromise creation of this timepiece.
Circular grained wheels, polished sinks and bridges adorned with the finest Côtes de Genève motif are just a few examples of the peerless finishing employed. Each bridge bevel is beautifully executed and the levers are presented in a pristine satin-brushed finish.
As part of the anniversary celebrations, Vacheron Constantin has decorated the balance cock on this limited edition model with ‘fleurisanne engraving’, wonderfully illustrating its artistic prowess.
The column wheel is formed in the shape of a Maltese Cross with a mere four pillars to its structure. Pressing the monopusher, the start, stop and reset functions are delivered with a gorgeous, silky feel. The column wheel and lateral coupling deliver a stutter free motion to the central chronograph seconds hand.
No doubt by now, my affection for this watch is abundantly clear. I struggle to identify any area which leaves me feeling shortchanged or underwhelmed. The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300 is simply delightful in ‘almost’ every detail.
I say ‘almost’, because I have spotted a problem. I cannot believe that if I owned this watch that I could accurately record my own pulse without experiencing a heightened pace to my heart rate. This is a horological beauty which will induce palpitations in any self-respecting admirer of haute horologerie. Indeed, with an illustrious 260 years of history, the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300 represents a worthy timepiece to celebrate the traditions of this exceptional maison, providing a telling indication of its brilliance.
- Model: Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300
- Reference: 5300S/000R-B055
- Case: 18-carat pink gold; dimensions 42mm x 52mm; height 12.81 mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; monopusher chronograph; pulsimeter scale; power-reserve indicator.
- Movement: Calibre 3300, hand-wound movement; frequency 21,600 vph (3 Hz); 35 jewels; power reserve 65 hours; 252 parts
- Strap: Brown Mississippiensis alligator leather strap presented on an 18-carat pink gold buckle
- Limited Edition: 260 pieces