Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar, launched at SIHH 2019, represents a major step forward in the world of high-end watchmaking. Equipped with two balance wheels, the owner is able to wear the watch in ‘active’ mode or place it on a flat surface in its ‘standby’ setting, thereby mitigating energy consumption while not in use. This ingenious approach virtually eliminates the need to repeatedly set the indications on a perpetual calendar.

This detailed review of the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar includes images, specification and pricing.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

There often comes a point when a novice watch collector discovers ‘complications’. Quite simply, the allure of two hands no longer proves enough. Many of these watch enthusiasts succumb to the charms of a calendar watch.

A ‘simple calendar’ or ‘complete calendar’ normally displays the day, date, month and, sometimes, the moon phases. This type of timepiece does not take into account the different length of the months, necessitating manual correction five times per year.

The ‘annual calendar’ shares much in common with the simple calendar watch, except it can differentiate between those months with 30 days and those with 31 days. It only necessitates manual adjustment of the date once per year, when the wearer needs to correct the watch date to the 1st of March.

The ultimate calendar watch is the ‘perpetual calendar’. This complication includes a leap year indicator. Assuming the mainspring is kept wound, it will display the correct date without any wearer input, even with the advent of a leap year. The only time when a perpetual calendar requires adjustment is in the years 2100, 2200, 2300, etc. These are not leap years.

A perpetual calendar is incredibly complex. It contains a plethora of parts, including gears, levers, wheels and a myriad of other tiny components. It represents the ultimate expression of calendar watch ownership. However, there are two problems with a perpetual calendar, namely, the significant cost of acquisition and the inordinate amount of time needed to set the various indications.

Owing to the amount of time needed to set a perpetual calendar, there is a strong argument for keeping the mainspring fully wound. However, this is not always practical. Wearers will sometimes forget to wind the watch or, assuming it is automatic, remove it from their wrist for a number of days leading to the mainspring assuming a relaxed state.

During SIHH 2019, Vacheron Constantin unveiled a new perpetual calendar which set aside convention. The new Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar allows the wearer to remove the watch from their wrist and place it on a flat surface for up to 65 days in ‘standby mode’. Thereafter, the wearer merely has to wind the mainspring, engage the ‘active mode’ and affix the watch to their arm. Surprisingly, despite the passage of time, the watch will display all the indications correctly. Unless the watch is left neglected for longer than 65 days, there will be no requirement to adjust the various indications. With the advent of this watch, perpetual calendar ownership has become much easier.

The dial

Vacheron Constantin was founded in 1755 and is reputedly the ‘world’s oldest watch Manufacture in continuous production’. History and tradition are at the heart of the Maison’s paradigm. While the Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar references the model’s observance of heritage, the model does exhibit several contemporary elements.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

One section of the dial is enriched with a gold, hand-guilloché, slate-coloured surface. It doffs it hat to time-served craftsmanship. The lower portion of the dial brims with modernity, courtesy of the sapphire crystal subdials. However, despite the juxtaposing of two seemingly disparate elements, the resultant aesthetic proves magnificent.

Dauphine-style hour and minute hands, crafted in 18-carat white gold, tastefully articulate the prevailing time. Each hour is marked with 18-carat white gold indexes. The sense of luxury is omnipresent. Each index straddles a chemin de fer and projects outwards, floating above the dial components below. This design approach confers a masterful sense of depth.

A power reserve indicator is positioned below noon. Two scales are depicted on a pane of sapphire crystal. An inner black scale shows the number of available days of autonomy when the watch is run in ‘active’ mode. The lone hand simultaneously points to the number of days the watch will operate in the ‘standby’ mode. This latter information employs a red scale. One barrel serves the movement, irrespective of which mode the wearer has selected. By using a sapphire disc, the wearer is indulged with a view of a ratchet wheel below. Indeed, this watch freely discloses many components ordinarily hidden.

Located between 4 and 5 o’clock, a subdial, again in sapphire crystal, proclaims the month. A leap-year indicator is positioned above 6 o’clock and incorporates a rectangular aperture to succinctly impart the relevant information.

A further sapphire disc, positioned between 7 and 8 o’clock, displays the date. Once more, many of the mechanical thought processes are revealed, indulging the wearer with an amazing visual spectacle.

Adjacent 9 o’clock, a black hand with an open-worked tip points to the mode setting. The wearer can switch between modes, simply by pressing the pushpiece at 8 o’clock.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

Vacheron Constantin has tastefully used colour to differentiate those functions relating to the ‘active mode’, in black, and those which apply to the ‘standby’ mode, in red. The Maison has chosen not to incorporate a day display which may disappoint some traditionalists, however, I think the brand has made a wise decision as the dial could otherwise appear cluttered.

The case

With added complexity, watches usually assume greater proportions, however, this is not the case with the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar. This watch has a modest diameter of just 42mm and a case height of 12.3mm. One reason for these diminutive dimensions relates to the size of the movement, a mere 32mm in diameter and 6mm in height. This represents a remarkable feat, considering the movement contains an incredible 480 components.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

The Genevan firm has chosen to envelop the movement with a beautiful platinum case. The styling of the case is traditional. The caseband sports an exquisite fluted edge where it meets the exhibition caseback. Indeed, everything is refined and elegant.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar is supplied on a sumptuous grey alligator leather strap paired with a platinum pin buckle.

The movement

The Calibre 3610P has been developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin. It represents an epoch in the history of watchmaking. The movement is endowed with two balances, one which oscillates at 5 Hz and a second that rotates at 1.2Hz.

When the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar is set in ‘active’ mode, the left-hand balance, which can be viewed from the rear, beats 10 times per second (36,000 VpH). This is a comparatively high frequency, providing greater accuracy and less susceptibility to shocks. Furthermore, when the watch is worn there will be less variation in rate owing to its relative position.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar

Once the aforementioned pushpiece is pressed, the watch will run in ‘standby’ mode. This causes the left hand balance wheel to halt and the right hand balance to assume responsibility for timekeeping. The frequency of this second balance is a laid-back 8640 VpH , sipping energy slowly. The second balance has a greater diameter and features a ‘delicate hairspring created especially for the slow-beat balance’. This balance is paired with an intricately shaped silicium escape wheel, proffering low friction and, by default, consuming less energy.

The hour and minute hands ‘draw variable information from two gear trains for one reading of the time. This is accomplished by a gear differential that allows the hands to read more than one input source of timekeeping data’.

The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar is equipped with jumping indications for the date, month and leap year. This is somewhat surprising as jumping indications are known for quaffing energy yet, miraculously, the Calibre 3610P has a parsimonious thirst. The brand explains that the jumping mechanism has been completely redesigned and incorporates a ‘sprung dual-gear compound system that requires four times less torque than a conventional jumping display’. Another key benefit of this approach is that there is no discernible influence on the amplitude which in turn ensures precision is maintained.

When viewing the Calibre 3610P one cannot help but notice the plates and bridges are treated with NAC. This proffers superior ‘resistance and durability’ when contrasted with other treatments. Most notably, the NAC imbues the movement with a dose of modernity. However, purists should not worry, the brand’s reputation for flawless finishing remains undiminished. The bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève and incorporate peerless anglage. Jewel and screw sinks are polished, screws have chamfered rims and wheels are circular grained. Further peace of mind is conferred with the Poinçon de Genève, adorning the right-hand balance cock.

Closing remarks

Prior to attending SIHH 2019, I felt I knew Vacheron Constantin. It is a brand I have long since admired. However, this Maison has always been synonymous with tradition, both in terms of styling and, in particular, its choice of materials. The inclusion of sapphire crystal dials, NAC treated bridges and plate, a silicium escape wheel and the twin beat know-how, represent a seismic shift for the Genevan company.

However, the advent of the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar does not diminish my adoration for the brand. Quite the contrary. I applaud the Genevan firm for daring to utilise new materials and viewing the perpetual calendar through a prism of ingenuity. In my opinion, the resultant timepiece is breathtaking.

The dial exposes many components which are normally hidden from view. However, despite showing several wheels, including the ratchet wheel, the dial remains eminently legible.

Although the case houses much complexity, it is not cumbersome and assumes an understated character. Platinum, the most noble of precious metals, seems the most fitting material with which to envelop the movement and dial components.

The Calibre 3610P is a chef-d’œuvre. The idea to offer the wearer two modes dependent on whether they are ‘active’ or they have chosen to place the watch atop a flat surface, is, quite simply, inspired. The power-reserve of the watch, irrespective of the mode selected, is superb. By developing its patented jumping mechanism, the succinct advance of the date, month and leap year delivers incredible theatre without consuming lots of energy.

Vacheron Constantin has produced an amazing calendar watch. Unlike its contemporaries, it will not require frequent setting as its incredible power reserve of 65 days (when in standby mode) virtually obviates this requirement. To this end, I would suggest this is the most user-friendly perpetual calendar currently on the market. The complexity of this watch precludes affordability, however, it represents a paragon of excellence few others can match.

Further reading

http://www.vacheron-constantin.com

Technical specifications

  • Model: Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar
  • Reference: 3200T/000P-B578
  • Case: Platinum; diameter 42mm; height 12.3mm; water resistance 3ATM (30 metres); sapphire crystal to the front and caseback
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; instantaneous perpetual calendar, power reserve, frequency mode
  • Movement: Calibre 3610QP; hand-wound movement; frequency 36,000 VpH (5Hz) – active mode; 8640 VpH (1.2Hz) – standby mode; 64 jewels; power reserve 4 days (active mode) / 65 days (standby mode)
  • Strap: Grey alligator strap with platinum pin buckle
  • Price: £195,000 (RRP as at 19.2.2019)