fbpx

Hands-on with the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day Date

A new dial for an old favourite.

The Patrimony has always exemplified the quintessential dress watch for Vacheron Constantin – think slim, round cases and clean dials. 

The collection was expanded at SIHH earlier this year, by way of new, deep blue dials paired with 18k pink gold cases. While blue dials are hardly new – the colour is quite fashionable now – it is less often combined with rose gold. Three models – the time-only Patrimony, the Patrimony with date, and the Retrograde Day Date – benefited from the facelift. 

Vacheron Patrimony blue pink gold

The time-only Patrimony (left), and the Retrograde Day Date

Setting aside the boutique editions, such as the ones for the Paris and Moscow, the new model is the fourth variant of the Retrograde Day Date. It was previously available in more conventional dress watch colours, with silver or black dials. In contrast, the new blue and pink gold combination is a richer, more modern look.

Not only are the colours different, the dial finish is too. While the earlier white dial version models have a grained, matte finish, the new blue dial has a sunburst brushed surface that radiates from the centre and catches the light nicely, giving the blue a metallic tint. Given the wide expanse of the dial, the sunburst finish lends a little more to the watch.

Colour and finish aside, the dial is typical Patrimony. The minute track is made up of gold circular spheres, while the applied baton hour markers are solid pink gold.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day Date dial 2

Also reflective of Vacheron Constantin’s house style, which leans towards off-centre or asymmetric dial layouts, the retrograde date sits close to 12 o’clock, so the applied markers on the north side of the dial are shorter.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day Date dial

Overall, however, the dial looks balanced; the calendar indicators are useful in occupying the large space of the dial.

The expanse of the dial allows the indicators to be spread out, leaving them easily legible.

Also legible are the hands, which are designed according to function: the calendar pointers are spear-shaped with skeletonised ends, distinguishing them from the sword-shaped hour and minute hands.

Vacheron Patrimony Retrograde Day Date blue 2

At 42.5mm wide, the case runs just a little larger than the average dress watch. In comparison, the simpler Patrimony with date is 40mm, which traditionalists might argue is already too wide for a dress watch.

That being said, the relative thinness of the case at 9.7mm gives it elegant enough proportions to slide under a double cuff.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day Date side

Inside is the cal. 2460 RT, which is Vacheron Constantin’s in-house cal. 2460 SC with the addition of the retrograde calendar module.

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day Date back

The movement is hallmarked with the Poinçon de Genève, or Geneva Seal, so it comes as no surprised that it is finely finished, with the i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

Vacheron Patrimony Retrograde Day Date blue 4

Although it is a base movement, the cal. 2460 is Vacheron Constantin’s top of the line base, explaining its fairly elaborate construction. That’s best illustrated by the hack seconds mechanism, visible on the left of the balance.

A closeup of another example of the cal. 2460

While the new Patrimony Retrograde Day Date is a mere facelift – the technical tour de force of the year is unquestionably the 65-day Twin Beat – the watch, along with the other new models fitted with blue dials, add a tinge of modernity to fairly traditional designs.

It’s a good looking watch and tangibly attractive, with one weakness, a stiff retail price. With a price tag of just over US$43,000, it’s within 10% of the basic Patek Philippe annual calendar, but the Patrimony is a simple calendar, albeit with retrograde displays. In short, it’s a beautifully executed watch, but it doesn’t scream value for money.

Key facts

Diameter: 42.5mm
Material: 18k 5N pink gold
Water resistance: 30m

Movement: cal. 2460 R31R7/2
Power reserve: Approximately 40 hours

Strap: Dark blue alligator

Price and availability

The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day Date (ref. 4000U/000R-B516) is priced at US$43,400, or 65,000 Singapore dollars.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Phillips Announces Independent Watchmaking Exhibition in Geneva

From May 9 to 12, 2019.

With its upcoming Geneva watch auction featuring a selection of timepieces from independent watchmakers – including the George Daniels Grand Complication – Phillips auctioneers will also be staging an exhibition dedicated to the craft alongside the auction preview.

Titled Independents’ Day: The Legacy of George Daniels, the four-day exhibition is dedicated to the genius of the late and great English watchmaker, but includes exhibits from a diversity of active and alive independent brands, many of whom were inspired in one way or another by Daniels.

The 13-strong list includes Akrivia, F.P. Journe, Greubel Forsey, MB&F, Philippe Dufour, Urwerk, and Voutilainen. Intriguingly, the line-up includes a name from long ago: Louis Cottier, the Geneva watchmaker best known for inventing the world time mechanism.

Louis Cottier and his Two Crown Worldtimer wristwatch prototype

Most of the exhibiting watchmakers or brand founders themselves will be present at the exhibition, a rare opportunity to meet the great and the good of independent watchmaking.

Amongst the highlights at the exhibition are the holy trinity of Philippe Dufour’s work – the Simplicity, Duality and Grande Sonnerie, wristwatch prototypes from Charles Frodsham, and the Louis Cottier’s very own prototype the world time wristwatch.

Derek Pratt for Urban Jurgensen Ovale

Derek Pratt for Urban Jurgensen Ovale movement view

Less famous but no less exquisite is the the oval pocket watch with tourbillon and detent escapement, made by Derek Pratt for Urban rgensen. Also on show will be Kari Voutilainen’s first ever pocket watch with tourbillon.

Kari Voutilainen's first tourbillon pocket watch prototype

Kari Voutilainen's first tourbillon pocket watch prototype movement view

The exhibition takes place from May 9 to 12 at the Hôtel La Réserve in Geneva, alongside the preview for The Geneva Watch Auction: Nine. Both are open daily to the public.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Up Close with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph 42mm Ref. 26480TI

Thin, light, and maybe less common

Launched in 1993, the original Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph ref. 25721, designed by Emmanuel Gueit and made famous by Italian Olympic ski champion Alberto Tomba, was 42mm in diameter and an enormous watch at the time. It has since been facelifted several times, most recently in 2017, and joined by several much larger variants.

Unveiled at SIHH 2019 in a relatively low-key manner, the latest Offshore Chronograph ref. 26480TI goes in the other direction. It is still 42mm, but is both thinner, thanks to a Frederic Piguet movement, and lighter because of its titanium case. All in all that makes the new Offshore the most wearable in the line-up.

The case is titanium, but still big enough that it doesn’t feel overly lightweight. It stands just 12.8mm high, compared to 14.4mm for the standard Offshore 42mm.

It’s a substantial difference that changes the proportions of the watch noticeably, giving it a sleeker profile on the wrist. That being said, the case still has a large and flat case back, so it doesn’t sit that well on smaller wrists.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 6

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 3

Movement

Credit for the thinness goes to the cal. 2385 inside, which is actually a rebranded Frederic Piguet cal. 1185. Although the movement was first introduced in 1988, it remains of the most compact and refined automatic chronograph movements on the market, with a diameter of just 26.2mm and height of 5.4mm. While highly regarded for its sophistication and size, the cal. 1185 does have one downside, a short 40-hour power reserve.

Featuring both a column wheel and vertical clutch, features often found on modern mid- to high-end chronograph movements, the cal. 1185 is an upgrade over the cal. 3126/3840 found in the standard Offshore. That’s a modular movement, the in-house cal. 3126 automatic with an added chronograph mechanism on top that sits jus below the dial.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 2

The cal. 1185 was once widely used by high-end brands like Vacheron Constantin, but since Frederic Piguet was integrated into Blancpain its movements are mostly found in watches made by Swatch Group brands like Blancpain and Breguet.

Audemars Piguet still uses the cal. 1185 extensively, but mostly in the Royal Oak Chronograph; the ref. 26480TI is the first Offshore to feature the movement. It’s more than likely that in the longer term the Offshore chronograph will be equipped with the in-house cal. 4401 now found in the Code 11.59, so the ref. 26480TI is not likely to be a long term presence in the catalogue.

Although the movement is small relative to the case, it actually suits the proportions of the watch well, because the Offshore Chronograph dial has always been quite small, with a very wide bezel. Consequently, all of the chronographs counters sit a good distance between the centre and edge of the dial, avoiding the crosseyed clustering often seen on large chronographs powered by small movements.

Finishing

The case finishing is typical of the Royal Oak, which is to say exceptionally fine. Though it is titanium, which by nature usually has a dull appearance, here it has been given a lustrous finish that resembles steel.

All flat surfaces have a gorgeous brushed finish, while the edges are mirror polished bevels. And the border between the contrasting finishes is razor sharp.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 9

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 5

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 8

(Over) design

Just like the case, the dial has a high level of fit and finish.

The design is typical of the Royal Oak, with sub-dials are are sensibly colour-coded – grey for the constant seconds, while the chronograph registers are grey with white borders.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 11

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 10

That being said, the styling feels like it’s over-designed, with little embellishments everywhere. The hour and minute hands are elongated and skeletonised versions of the standard Offshore hands, while the hour markers are flared at the base.

And then there’s the crosshair on the constant seconds register, while the case back is engraved with a motif reminiscent of a football.

It’s not unattractive, but it feels unnecessary.

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 7

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Chrono 42mm 26480TI 4

Concluding thoughts

Despite the excessively styled dial, the Offshore Chronograph ref. 26480TI is one of the more attractive watches in the line-up. Its size and weight also give it a good feel on the wrist.

From a broader perspective, the new Offshore an interesting watch; it feels a little bit like a way station between the current Offshore with a modular movement and future Offshores with the new in-house cal. 4401. With that being the case, it’ll probably be relatively uncommon.


Key facts

Diameter: 42mm
Material: Titanium
Water resistance: 100m

Movement: Calibre 2385 (Frederic Piguet 1185)
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Blue rubber with titanium pin buckle; additional white rubber strap

Price and availability

Already available at Audemars Piguet boutiques and retailers, the Royal Oak Offshore Selfwinding Chronograph in titanium (ref. 26480TI.OO.A027CA.01) is priced at US$26,800, or S$37,600.


 

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.