It feels like the industry is in the midst of an open-dialed moment.
From the success of the A Lange & Söhne Lumen line to the introduction of Patek’s new 5316/50P with sapphire crystal dial, it’s looking like everyone is jumping aboard something that could be considered a newly repopularized trend.
For Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface , however, doing great open-dialed and open-worked movements just seems to be the status quo. Amidst all the craziness of Watches & Wonders, the release of their new Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface (what a mouthful) didn’t get the attention it deserved. It’s time to fix that.
Well before starting a full-time career in the watch world, there was already no doubt in my mind that one of Vacheron Constantin’s greatest strengths has been making great technical watches informed by, but not wedded to, the brand’s history. For all the success of last year’s announcement of the 222 and the demand for the Overseas (like any luxury stainless steel watch), I think people have lost sight of what Vacheron excels at.
Anyone who was sure (rather than just hopeful) that Vacheron would release another 222 in steel at this Watches & Wonders doesn’t get the incredibly terrible miss that would have been from a marketing standpoint. Sure, they’d immediately be sold out, but the yellow gold 222 has a waitlist that feels like it probably could pass on to my grandkids, and production numbers at “holy trinity” brands are already incredibly limited. So what would be the point? Instead, Vacheron went back to basics – or at least its basics – by doing something complicated in its own way.
The new Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface (TTRDO for short) picks up not only in the realm of that complication’s success but in my opinion in another space where the brand excels: legibility. The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface is my favorite openworked watch when it comes to quick legibility and the new TTRDO follows in its footsteps, even if it’s not fully skeletonized. While I’d normally start with the technicality first, it seems silly to skip over the open dial through which you can view everything else.
The openworked sapphire dial features a railroad track around the entirety of the dial and a guilloché segment from 8:36 to 3:24 on the dial, into which the retrograde date display is set. The gold baton-style hour-markers sit on that railroad track and hover over any open parts of the dial which, in addition to that railroad track, fluted caseback, slim bezel, facetted Dauphine hands make the traditional, well, Traditionnelle. The retrograde date is displayed with a hand made of 18k blackened gold and a white arrow tip. But due to the open working on the dial, you can see the hand-brushed slate grey surface treatment on the upper portion of the dial plate. The most thoughtful touch is the hand-guilloché lower section of the platine that matches what little dial you see. It’s a harmony that tricks your eye into thinking there’s a full dial when there’s not. The finishing flashes from grey to brown depending on the light which keeps the view interesting, not that it needs help.
Looking closer and you get to the heart of the watch: the in-house, 242-component, Hallmark of Geneva-stamped 2162 R31 movement with peripheral rotor for automatic winding. The movement is 6.25mm and features two of Vacheron’s signature complications, a retrograde date and tourbillon with running seconds marked on the tourbillon cage. While it’s not fully openworked-back to front, there’s plenty to look at both on the dial side and on the rear, where the NAC slate grey finish gets Geneva stripes and a decent bit of anglage on the plates. The movement runs at a frequency of 18,000vph, with an impressive 72-hour power reserve. At 41mm by only 11.07mm thick, the stepped round case and lugs of the 18k pink gold case wears incredibly well. So well I apparently left the watch comfortably on my wrist and moved on to shooting other Vacheron watches in one of our many quick appointments at Watches & Wonders. It’s a mistake that I won’t make again, though I definitely don’t have any qualms about keeping it a bit longer than intended especially when, at whatever the price eventually comes out to be, I’m confident I definitely won’t be able to pick one up any time soon.