Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual Calendar is an aristocrat among aristocrats. The first version of the watch turned out in 2016, in 18k white gold ; this was the year that Vacheron introduced a refreshed new Overseas assortment, with more refined plans overall, and with, for the first run through, an Overseas that was a pure perpetual calendar. It was an assortment that likewise incorporated another Overseas Ultra-Thin (which I felt at that point, and still feel, is quite possibly the most delightful contemporary Vacheron wristwatches ) and the two watches have a similar fundamental development, which is the Vacheron caliber 1120.
This is probably one of the a few most notable developments of the 20th century and for fanatics of ultra-slight watchmaking, certainly one of the a few generally important. The caliber 1120 (otherwise called the Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 920, the Patek Philippe 28-255, and the Audemars Piguet 2120) appeared in 1967, at which time it was the flattest full-rotor programmed winding development ever constructed. Incredibly, this record stands unbroken today (thinner programmed developments exist, yet not full rotor). On the off chance that you need a truly horologically significant reason for a really rich programmed perpetual calendar, this is probably just about as great as it gets.
There are many approaches to execute a perpetual calendar precisely, of course – a portion of the major advancements in perpetual calendars in the last fifty or so years have given us, increasingly, perpetual calendar watches that are however near foolproof as a perpetual calendar may be ever going to get. Probably the most severely reductive, precisely modern perpetual calendar is from ochs und junior , which is pretty much completely diametrically restricted to the Vacheron Overseas Perpetual Calendar in both plan and theory – the perpetual calendar instrument in the ochs und junior uses only nine extra parts.
In the latter case, you have a great arrangement of style from an engineering stance – after all, the fewer parts there are, the less there is to turn out badly, and there is real excellence and scholarly fulfillment in this sort of straightforwardness. However, in mechanical watchmaking, there are a plethora of sorts of style, each with its own fulfillments, and a traditionally executed perpetual calendar based on the 1120 – the caliber 1120 QP/1 – is a direct association with a tradition of perpetual calendar construction that is several centuries old. Caliber 1120 QP/1 uses as traditional a perpetual calendar plate as you can discover in a modern wristwatch, with a program wheel, moonphase, and all the requesting to-make steel cams and jumpers that make this sort of perpetual calendar a particularly rich store of watchmaking procedures and history.
Visible through the caseback, the strong gold rotor and bridges of the caliber 1120 QP/1
The cadrature (under the dial work) with the 4 year program wheel at 12:00. At the left is the 7 pointed star wheel for the day of the week; right, the date wheel.
Alas, the perpetual calendar component is covered up under the dial (similar to the case with all traditional perpetual calendar complications of this sort) however I think a major part of the allure of this kind of perpetual calendar instrument is that you see all the enchantment, yet none of the behind the stage business necessary to make it happen.
One of the numerous variations in perpetual calendar configuration can be found in the signs for the month and for the Leap Year cycle. The Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin uses a solitary hand for both, which makes one full revolution every four years, and it’s a very flawless arrangement precisely on the grounds that you need just to put a hand on the program wheel – which additionally turns once every four years – and hello presto, an integrated month and Leap Year indicator.
The challenge, of course, is looking after decipherability. Perpetual calendars with month windows are an undeniable and very readable approach to deal with getting that information across, in spite of the fact that with the expansion of some complexity into the perpetual calendar instrument. There are pointer-type month signs, however these generally show a year, with a separate hand for the Leap Year cycle. With a year in the month sub-dial, the month hand turns through a luxurious 30 degrees every time the month changes. With four years, that drops to 7.5 degrees and cramming every one of the four year names into a relatively little circle would mean making the sub-dial basically unreadable.
The answer for the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin is to utilize letters for just every third month. The months that don’t get letters, are demonstrated by dial markers, and the Leap Year is appeared by quartering the subdial at the Leap Year. Despite the fact that it’s as yet not the top of moment readability, it works surprisingly well (and helps hold thickness down, as you needn’t bother with extra gearing to venture up the rotation of the month hand).
Although it’s not one of the modern era’s simpleton proof perpetuals (or perhaps one should say “imbecile resistant” – the instrument has never been made that can evade destruction because of the truly moronic) setting up the Overseas Perpetual Ultra-Thin is straightforward. Setting the day of the week, date, and month is through pushers recessed into the case, which record the wheels of the respective signs; the moonphase has its own separate corrector, which can be progressed without influencing any of the other signs. While frameworks have been concocted in recent years that permit all signs to be set from the crown, or which improve on the traditional corrector framework by introducing correctors that require no pointer, it’s not particularly a burden to utilize the correctors, particularly as you will not need to utilize them very frequently (which, after all, is the purpose of a perpetual calendar).
And there is something certainly fulfilling about doing things as it was done in the good ‘ol days – after all, there’s more to life than convenience.
Caliber 1120 QP/1, in view of the caliber 1120 – a record setter in 1967 and still the reigning champ of full rotor ultra-slim developments today.
The moonphase isn’t fundamental for the presentation of calendar information per se, however it is a wonderful and consistently lyrical expansion to the perpetual calendar which, after all, is a sort of astronomical complication itself (insofar as it encodes the confuse between the calendar, and the Earth’s real orbit around the Sun). I’ve generally delighted in moonphases that have moon-faces, however the smooth moon utilized by Vacheron adds a certain serenity to what exactly may have been a too-bustling dial. The moonphase circle is gently textured, and decorated with engraved heavenly bodies and hand-painted stars.
The Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin, similar to all watches in the new Overseas assortment (all things considered, it’s been two years, however given Vacheron’s life span I think “new” is as yet a reasonable characterization) utilizes a fast change strap framework, which is straightforward, practical, and secure. I wore the Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin on a dark blue, textured rubber strap with a gold collapsing clasp, and thought that it was a very comfortable fit. For a particularly aristocratic usage of a particularly saturated with history complication, the Overseas Perpetual Ultra-Thin succeeds surprisingly well at being a profoundly user-friendly everyday watch.
I discovered this, overall, an extremely fulfilling watch to wear. It’s a very contemporary plan in certain respects – the rubber strap certainly puts it squarely in modern watch territory, as does the snappy change strap plan, and the brilliant hands and lists (which are, let’s be honest, a darned pleasant thing to have on an every day wear watch). But on the other hand it’s a watch with profound associations with a very venerable method for perpetual calendar construction, and to the sorts of development completing that travel alongside it. That the perpetual calendar system is covered under the dial is part of the attraction; that it’s a completely traditional usage is the thing that makes it so.
On a personal level, this is my favorite usage of the Overseas plan, I think since the family was first introduced (in 1996, however as it were, the roots of the Overseas assortment go right back to 1977, when the 222 was introduced ). They bode well as ultra-slender watches – the thin measurements tame the angularity of the bezel (which in previous versions of the Overseas could appear to be somewhat aggressive) and the way that a particularly awesome development powers the Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual makes it, in the event that you like this sort of thing by any stretch of the imagination, fundamentally irresistible.
At $74,500, it is certainly not the least expensive perpetual calendar on the market, but rather this sort of greatness has never been, and won’t ever be, reasonable. For watch devotees, with respect to aficionados of anything where there are dramatic differences between the high and low end, one reaches a point where appreciation isn’t necessarily about ownership, and the way that this sort of watchmaking survived the Quartz Crisis, is as yet going on today, is something we would all be able to feel great about.
Available in mid-March at Vacheron shops. For more data on the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Ultra-Thin Perpetual in rose gold, visit Vacheron-Constantin.com.