Vacheron Constantin is something of a master at creating magnificent and ultra-intricate complicated watches. It was not too long ago when we unabashedly oohed and aahed over the Twin Beat during our extensive video coverage while on the ground at SIHH 2019.
But the maison has shown us time and time again that it also has an elevated mastery of making exceptional, simple watches, which perhaps, is the harder feat to pull off. Because, what new thing could you do with a time-only watch that will make journalists and collectors collectively sigh in adoration? As if there aren’t a million examples of “classic” looking three-handers out there already.
Switching things up, let’s briefly talk about platinum, considered one of the more revered metals of choice in watchmaking. Platinum as a material is harder to work with compared to white gold, a precious metal and alloy that the former is often compared to. Reason being that platinum is a lot less malleable than white gold. Meaning that it’s a lot harder to shape the material without it cracking when compared to white gold. As a result, it takes a lot longer to work with the material and hence, tends to higher production costs.
But the benefits are that Platinum is a harder material. It is also a lot more resistant to corrosion, more stable at high temperatures and denser when compared to, again, white gold. That last quality is why when you pick up a timepiece made of a lustrous white precious metal, you know that you’re holding a platinum variation simply because of the weight you feel in your hand. Platinum also has a natural luster as a result of the metals that are used to form platinum alloys, which doesn’t fade as much as it does overtime in the case of white gold.
Of course, often enough, you’ll also see that watchmakers will stamp their platinum watch case with the letters “Pt” followed by three numbers. Pt, being the chemical symbol used to indicate the metal element and the number is used to indicate the percentage purity of platinum used in the case. So take for instance: Pt950, the 950 tells us that in this instance the case is an alloy with 95% of its makeup being platinum. Platinum is typically found in use as an alloy with iridium or ruthenium.
Minus the lack of its malleability, watchmakers often use platinum for its great physical and chemical properties to showcase the highest examples of their creations. Among these are the likes of Vacheron Constantin that has established a collection within its family of watches that is completely dedicated to the precious metal, since 2006.
The Collection Excellence Platine is exclusively composed of timepieces that highlight the use of platinum and are launched only in limited editions. A standout recent release under this family includes the Traditionnelle Complete Calendar – Collection Excellence Platine, announced ahead of SIHH 2018. But unlike a complicated calendar watch, Vacheron Constantin’s latest addition to this family is an example of how well the watchmaker has mastered simplicity. Enter the Traditionnelle Manual-Winding – Collection Excellence Platine.
Presented in a 38mm platinum case, to say that the monochromatic timepiece is a sight for sore eyes, would be an understatement. Moving on into the case, the complete expanse of the watch’s dial is all in platinum. The texture on the surface is a result of it being treated with sandblasting. The no-nonsense hour markers are applied white gold batons, which contrast nicely with the sharp faceted sword shaped hour and minute hands, polished to a mirror finish. These are again in white gold. The small seconds at the traditional 6 o’clock position, is the only splash of color on the timepiece, thanks to the blued steel hand here.
Although, given that so much of the watch is made of platinum, a small hint of this is made by marking its dial with the Pt 950 stamp between 4 and 5 o’clock, indicating that the variety of platinum used to make this instance of the Traditionnelle Manual-Winding, is 95% pure platinum.
Next, turning the watch over we are treated to a see-through caseback, showcasing the manual winding 4400 AS. The movement is a staple of the brand, used to power almost any time-only piece of theirs that features a small running seconds. The movement is able to push out approximately 65 hours of power reserve and of course — as per Vacheron Constantin’s exacting standards — bears the Poinçon de Genève.
The uncomplicated movement lends itself to the ultimate qualitative measure of the elegance that the watch exudes, which is its thickness. At 38mm diameter and 7.77mm height, the watch is sure to slip right under any cuff or sleeve with the greatest of ease.
At the end of the day, it cannot be reiterated enough how exemplary Vacheron Constantin’s mastery of simple design is, as demonstrated by the staple that is the Traditionnelle Manual-Winding within the collection. But executing such a watch completely in platinum can help elevate its finer points by imbuing a sense of opulence and luxury in a way that no other material can.
Manual-winding caliber 4400 AS; hours, minutes and small running seconds; approximately 65 hours of power reserve
38mm in platinum
Dark blue Mississippiensis alligator leather strap with alligator leather inner shell, hand-stitched with 950 platinum and silk, saddle-finish; 950 platinum half Maltese cross-shaped buckle
The Traditionnelle Manual-Winding Collection Excellence Platine will be produced in an exclusive run of 75 numbered pieces