This Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle in green is the quintessential dress watchBorna Bošnjak
The Traditionnelle line from Vacheron Constantin can be a little deceiving when it comes to its name. It may suggest that it houses Vacheron Constantin’s retro re-issues, but it nods to their vintage pieces in a different fashion. Rather than perusing the extensive back catalogue – VC has after all been in constant operation since 1755 – the Traditionnelle collection honours this rich history by creating decidedly contemporary, elegant watches using all of their existing know-how.
I had the chance to spend some time with what could be the most sophisticated member of the collection: the new Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Manual-winding, cased in pink gold with a stunning green dial. Released at Watches & Wonders Shanghai last year, it started off as a Chinese exclusive, but is now available worldwide – and if you’re in the market for a dress watch, you should be excited about that.
There has been no shortage of green dials in the last couple of years, and though no other colour trend seems to have taken off yet, it seems like manufacturers haven’t run out of emerald permutations, either. The rich sunburst of the Traditionnelle makes the green change from a fresh pine to a deep forest one, with some golden tones thrown into the mix. That just happens to work well with the rose gold indices and handset, with all the dial printing in a crisp white.
The small seconds sub-dial changes up the texture with an azurage inner, though the ridges are so fine they change to a frosted look from further away. I can’t not mention those dauphine hands, which are the highlight of the dial for me. With a sharp bevel running down their centre, I remain firm in my belief that it’s the ultimate hand shape. Other neat details include an applied Maltese cross logo, as well as the small cut-out in the double-wide marker at 12 o’clock.
The watch world seems to be out of the woods when it comes to tree-trunk-friendly giants of the early 2000s, with cases measuring 45mm and more. More recent times have actually shown a trend of decreasing sizes, but the Traditionnelle Manual-winding settles into a comfortable 38mm diameter and an enviably thin case at 7.77mm. This seems to be a size that manufacturers have widely accepted to be appropriate for a dress watch, especially considering the Traditionnelle isn’t exactly vintage-inspired.
Even though it’s a simple watch, the brand doesn’t skimp on executing the case well. The clean-cut design is shaped in 18k 5N pink gold, with wide, polished surfaces all round. Further reducing on-wrist bulk, the case steps down below the crown, narrowing in diameter, meeting the fluted edge of the screw-down caseback. The claw-like lugs have a satisfying presence and are set quite far apart for this case size, making it appear even smaller. Their side profile reveals that they don’t really curve around the wrist much, making for a flat wearing experience exacerbated by the thinness of the case.
An alligator strap is the sensible choice for a dress watch, and the one accompanying the Traditionnelle Manual-winding is as comfortable as you’d expect. What’s even better, the 20mm lug width will leave plenty of flexibility for aftermarket options – I could certainly see this watch paired with a smooth black Cordovan strap for the dressiest of occasions. If you do opt for an aftermarket strap, make sure you get one with an 18mm end width so you can make full use of the lovely 18k pink gold ardillon buckle that comes with the watch.
A time-only, hand-wound watch by one of the big three is the best example of what stripping back to basics can look like. The 4400 AS in the Traditionnelle continues the brand’s tradition – pun entirely intended – of fine, slim (it’s only 2.8mm), manual calibres that included the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s 818 in the past, and now continues with in-house production. It sports a Poinçon de Genève thanks to its excellent finishing (and origins), some of the highlights being countersunk screws and jewels and a couple of internal bevelled angles, with a respectable 65-hour power reserve.
If I had to make a single complaint, which I guess is what I’m doing, I’d say that I’d wish the gear train bridge was separated into several smaller cocks. This would allow for more surface area for anglage and showing off the wheels underneath, akin to their vintage K1001 calibre. Is it overly nitpicky? Sure, but small details are difference-makers with such simple movements.
The Traditionnelle Manual-winding is a combination of many things I personally love in a watch: Dauphine hands, restrained sizing and design, and a wonderful movement are just some of the main talking points here. What’s even more impressive is that it kind of stands out as a bit of a bargain. Admittedly, that’s difficult to grasp with an A$40k watch, but when compared to its competition, it makes more sense.
An equivalent Calatrava is nearly A$10k more, and Audemars Piguet simply does not offer anything like this in their current catalogue. There’s the wonderful L.U.C 1860 from Chopard, but that’s a smaller, more classically styled proposition in steel at the same price point – making the Traditionnelle a rare example of a great contemporary dress watch.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Manual-winding Green pricing and availability
The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Manual-winding Green is available via Vacheron Constantin boutiques, retailers and the brand’s online boutique. Price: A$39,500 (inc. VAT), US$23,700 (excl. VAT).
|38mm (D) x 7.77mm (T)
|18k 5N rose gold
|Sapphire front and back
|Green alligator leather, 18k pink gold ardillon buckle
|4400 AS, in-house, manual winding, Poinçon de Genève
|Hours, minutes, small seconds
|A$39,500 (inc. VAT)
US$23,700 (excl. VAT)