41mm rose gold case, ultra-thin automatic Caliber 1120, stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva
Vacheron Constantin has announced the new Patrimony Traditionelle Self-Winding — in a 41mm case and with the legendary automatic ultra-thin Caliber 1120. The watch is classic and traditional, but at the same time its 41mm diameter lends it an undeniably contemporary dimension. I’ll walk through the particulars on this superb new reference from Vacheron, as well as a detailed look at the legendary Caliber 1120 and its origins (including its commonality with the AP Cal. 2120 and the Patek Cal 28-255), below.
The gold case frames an opaline silver-toned dial with 18-carat pink gold applied hour-markers, punctuated by a black minute circle. It is fitted on a chestnut brown alligator strap with matching 18-carat pink gold pin buckle.
At the heart of its case ticks the ultra-thin self-winding Calibre 1120 — one of the most highly regarded calibers in all of watchmaking. And on the new Patrimony Tradionelle it is visible through a sapphire crystal display back.
Given its notoriety, it is only fitting that we review more closely the ultra-thin Caliber 1120 in this watch. There is also an interesting history behind movement — which I go in-depth on in the “Did You Know” segment below. Here are a couple looks at the Caliber, and some of the specifications:
28.40 mm (12’’’ ½) by 2.45mm thick, frequency of 2.75 Hz (19,800 vibrations/hour), Gyromax balance, 144 total parts; with Côtes de Genève, chamfered and hand-polished elements
In the close-up image below, observe carefully and you will see that not only are the surfaces of the movement adorned with a meticulously executed “Côtes de Genève” motif, but all their sharp angles are chamfered and then (hand) polished. Such is also the case with the screw heads. I am also quite fond of the carved-out Maltese cross emblem on the rotor.
As noted above, the piece carries the Geneva Seal — bear in mind that this is the seal (“Hallmark of Geneva”) with the new/updated requirements (2011) that are no longer confined exclusively to the movement, but also take the entire finished watch into account.
All in all, I would say that the new Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionelle Self-Winding is a splendid timepiece. And while it is to be expected that some traditionalists will scoff at the larger case size, this new reference can still boast of having beautiful lines and well-balanced proportions — as well as an unquestionably quality caliber.
Did You Know?
To my knowledge, there is only a single caliber that has been used by all members of the Swiss watchmaking holy trinity–Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin–and by no one else. And as I noted above it is considered one of the greatest movements ever produced. It originated in 1967 from the Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. known as the the Caliber 920. From the Cal. 920 come the Audemars Piguet Caliber 2120, the Vacheron Constantin Caliber 1120, and the Patek Philippe Caliber 28-255. Patek Philippe, while attempting to produce a reliable, flat automatic design of its own, introduced the Nautilus in 1970 with the 920 (Patek caliber 28-255), and kept the watch in production for 10 years (then switching to the caliber 335SC).
At present day, AP has rights to the movement (now the AP 2120) and it also supplies the caliber to Vacheron Constantin. Vacheron refers to it as the Caliber 1120, and while some of the Cal. 1120 components are machined by AP, Vacheron obviously makes major modifications for the movement to be compliant with the Geneva Seal.
For some additional perspective and reading on this fascinating topic (the JLC 920/AP 2120/VC 1120/PP 28-255), there is a technical discussion available by Walt Odets at TZ. For discussion of the Cal. 1120 from a Vacheron-centric point of view, see this thread over at the VC Hour Lounge; for perspective on this Caliber from a long-time AP collector’s point of view, see here.