Vacheron Constantin illustrates an unexpected encounter between tradition and modernity in its Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day tourbillon openworked model. Combining the tourbillon complication with the art of openworking, both of which were born at the dawn of the 19th century, the Manufacture transcends the codes of these ancestral skills to offer an eminently contemporary composition. Playing with a double three-dimensional effect stemming both from the architecture of the 2260 SQ movement and from its Gothic inspiration, the model displays impressive depth highlighted by components featuring cleverly destructured lines.
While the first tourbillon emerged in 1801, the ability to develop and craft this horological complication in-house remains the exclusive preserve of a rare circle of Manufactures. Those able to openwork such a demanding calibre are an even rarer breed and among them, very few also rise to the challenge of endowing it with a 14-day power reserve. Vacheron Constantin belongs to this exclusive circle.
Combining a tourbillon with such an impressive power reserve calls for a specific construction. The Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day tourbillon openworked comprises no less than four barrels stacked in pairs in the upper part of the movement, making it more ‘crowded’ than the lower part. Vacheron Constantin tamed these differences in volume by structuring its Calibre 2260 SQP in layers and thus creating a depth effect that the Manufacture has accentuated through an engraving motif specially designed to exalt the three-dimensional effect.
Modern style backed by the quest for “shapes within shapes”
Traditionally, engraving artisans follow the line or curve of the hollowed bridges and mainpalte in giving life to an openworked calibre. This is in itself an extremely delicate task that involves ensuring that the components interact to perfection despite the removal of material, and to create transparency effects that will reveal the slightest imperfection and can thus tolerate no mistakes.
Constantly on the look-out for fresh challenges, Vacheron Constantin lays a new milestone in this demanding art by adopting an approach well off the beaten track in its Calibre 2260 SQ. In order to ensure that the openwork echoes the distinctive movement architecture, the Manufacture has undertaken stylistic research on the theme of “shapes within shapes”. Overturning classic conventions governing aesthetic equilibrium, certain mechanical elements form Gothic-inspired ribbed vaults, disrupting lines and destructuring curves. The three-dimensional construction of the calibre is highlighted by a fresh interplay of light and structure; the sense of depth and height is further accentuated; while the contrasts between the matt and polished finishes infuse the model with unique radiance.
A meticulous task
While openworking stems from purely aesthetic considerations, it nonetheless makes each stage even more complex compared with a solid calibre. Striking such a subtle balance between openworking and functionality thus calls for an average two months for the conception and modelisation phases alone, as well as long hours of hand-drawing, chamfering and engraving. All these operations require nimble fingers as well as infinite patience. This is an art in which the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin excels, and which it has been faithfully exercising by hand ever since the first openworked and engraved balance-cock produced at the time of its founding almost 260 years ago. Calibre 2260 SQ is entirely in tune with this longstanding hand-crafted tradition. Its distinctive layered construction results in a substantial surface to be decorated and thus implies even more manual workmanship. Compared with the solid base movement, a single 2260 SQ calibre requires 10 additional hours of chamfering and hand-drawing, as well as 40 extra hours of engraving.
An exceptional watch with Hallmark of Geneva certification
At Vacheron Constantin, excellence and concern for detail are not confined to the movement, however exceptional it may be. The fascinating mechanical architecture of Calibre 2260 SQ is housed in due style within the pure lines of a precious platinum case. Dispensing with a central dial, the Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day tourbillon openworked model instead features an elegant slate-grey ring around its inner rim, graced with white gold hour-markers. The tourbillon carriage at 6 o’clock spins over a Maltese Cross, sweeping the small seconds hand in its wake.
From the mechanism to the exterior, everything about this new creation from Vacheron Constantin embodies perfect execution. The watch indeed bears the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, the highest benchmark of Fine Watchmaking testifying to the quality, the craftsmanship and the reliability of an exceptional timepiece crafted within the confines of Canton Geneva.