The Patrimony Traditionelle 14-day Tourbillon Openworked has a lot in common with the great Gothic cathedrals of northern Europe, where the architects removed stone from windows to let in as much light as possible, and where the lines of stress were revealed and expressed by daring, filigree flying buttresses. This piece by Vacheron Constantin is like a hymn to the art and magic of watchmaking: the skeletonization process has reduced the components to the minimum indispensable, and you can watch the cluster of springs, wheels and levers as they perform their task. Just as in a Gothic cathedral, even the smallest flat areas of material have not been overlooked, but are decorated by hand, engraved with curving lines, and then meticulously polished.
The watch looks more crowded in the top half, and this is not surprising. Its exceptional 14-day power reserve is provided by four barrels, stacked in pairs, towards the top. A power reserve indicator is at the 12 o’clock position. The more open structure of the lower part of the watch gives extra visual strength to the tourbillon at 6 o’clock, highlighted by the Maltese cross motif that hallmarks the brand.
The 231 components are housed in a platinum grey case. Instead of a dial, there is a slate-grey ring around the inner rim, with white gold hour markers. The quality of the watch is certified by the Hallmark of Geneva.
Openworking has been one of Vacheron Constantin’s strengths right from its foundation in 1755 (next year marks the 260th anniversary). Jean-Marc Vacheron’s first watch built in 1755 already had an openworked and engraved balance-cock. The first totally openworked calibre was made in 1924. From then on, the brand has explored the art, creating new forms of architecture in which the lines of metal don’t really mirror the original shapes of the components, but form new shapes, a ferociously complex network of curves giving a sense of depth, appreciable from both sides of the watch.
The Calibre 2260 SQ movement is hand-wound, and set in a platinum case with transparent sapphire caseback. Water resistance is rated at 3 bar, or 30 metres. The watch has a black alligator strap.
The boutique in Geneva – the location of the brand – is at:
1, Place de Longemalle, CH-1204 Geneva
Tel +41 22 316 1740.
Scroll down to see a Vacheron Constantin video in which this watch appears towards the end.