2015 is shaping up to be quite a year for Vacheron Constantin. With the recent announcement that they’ll be unveiling the world’s most complicated watch ever (and yes, it’s a pocket watch) in a few weeks, they’re certainly making their 260th anniversary one to remember.
But it’s not just super-complications. Earlier this year at SIHH, Vacheron Constantin impressed with their new retro-inspired collection, the Harmony. Here’s a long overdue look at what I consider the centerpiece of the collection, the Harmony Chronograph.
The vintage inspiration is not only immediately visible on the Harmony ChronographHere’s the cushion-case mono-pusher chronograph from 1928 form which it draws inspiration.
First, the case. If I had to venture a guess as to where the collection’s name comes from, it would be the harmonious lines and interplay of shapes and curves on the red gold case. Neither square nor round, the cushion case is beautifully sculpted with smooth yet well-defined edges. It’s the kind of case that you just can’t keep your fingers off; admiring its contours with the tip of your fingers.
Coming in at a generous but elegant 42mm x 51.97mm (including lugs) size and 12.81mm in thickness, the Harmony Chronograph is definitely on the larger side of things for such a classical watch, but I’m not complaining. It’s got just the right kind of presence on the wrist.
Sitting under the slightly domed sapphire crystal is a silvery-white opaline dial with a very fine-grained texture that appears creamy-white under most lighting. The blue painted Arabic numerals have a nice volume to them, slightly rounded and raised at the center. The rounded gold leaf-shaped hands are almost identical to those from the 1928 chronograph.
The dial has the constant seconds at 9 o’clock, 45-minute chronograph register at 3 o’clock, and a power reserve indicator at 6 o’clock. Besides coming in handy with a manual-winding movement such as this, it really helps in balancing out the dial. And in a true vintage spirit, the dial features a pulsimetric scale with 30-beat graduations.
As pretty as it is, where the Harmony Chronograph really takes the cake is under its proverbial hood. The new 252-part Caliber 3300 is the result of several years of development and has made its debut in this anniversary piece, though I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of it in future Vacheron Constantin pieces. No ordinary mono-pusher chronograph movement, the Caliber 3300 features a column-wheel with a lateral clutch, an unusual dragging 45-minute counter, and most interestingly (especially for a clumsy guy like me), a safety mechanism that prevents the gears from moving unless sufficient pressure is applied via the pusher.
While this measure does mean less unnecessary wearing out of the chronograph mechanism, it does mean a slightly more rigid sensation when using the pushers. The Harmony Chronograph is certainly no buttery-soft Datograph, though I admit there is something reassuring in its firmness. The manual-winding movement has a power reserve of approximately 65 hours without the chronograph running.
From an aesthetical perspective, there’s little not to love in the finish and decoration of the Caliber 3300, all up to Geneva Seal standards of course. The details that really stand out are the gold hand-engraved balance-cock and Maltese cross atop the column wheel.
The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Chronograph is limited to 260 pieces, with a retail price of $75,300 USD.
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