Vacheron Constantin revisits a favorite watch from the 1920s this year with the launch of the Historiques American 1921 in a smaller case size
The Inspiration: Vintage Vacheron Constantin Timepieces
More and more watchmakers are looking to their archives for inspirations when creating new timepieces. And with a brand as storied and respected as Vacheron Constantin, there’s plenty of material to choose from.
Ideal for the fans all things Art Deco, Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 Small is a stand-out piece thanks to its cushion-shaped case and skewed dial. A variation on two watches — the first one of which was released in 1919 and the second one in 1921 — this timepiece’s idiosyncratic design comes from the fact that the original movement came from a pocket watch and the crown was positioned at the 11 o’clock mark, thus the 12 was shifted to the left to align with the crown. The reasoning behind this design was, if worn on the right wrist, the watch could be easily read by drivers without the need of letting go of the steering wheel. Limited to a run of just 12 models, this was a lauded and much sought after piece.
Thus two years later, Vacheron Constantin unveiled the Historiques American 1921, a watch similar in look but designed to be worn on the left wrist. As such, this timepiece saw its crown positioned at the 1 o’clock mark and the dial rotated in the opposite direction so as to fall in line with the top right and bottom left corners of the watch. Today’s Historiques American 1921 Small takes direct inspiration from the latter of the two releases.
New for 2017: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 Small
A reinterpretation of the 1920s watch, the Historiques American 1921 Small comes in a smaller 36.5 mm diameter case. Designed to be a unisex watch, this sophisticated instrument features an 18K pink gold case and is Hallmark of Geneva certified. In keeping with the original design, the crown can be found at the watch’s top right corner, at the 1 o’clock mark. This particular characteristic means that Vacheron Constantin also had to pay attention to the watch’s lug design to ensure enough clearance around the crown to enable comfortable time setting.
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 Small white dial is finished off with a grained texture and offers a clean backdrop against which black painted Arabic numerals, open-tipped hour and minute hands in black oxidized gold, and a simple minute track stand out. A small seconds counter at the 4:40 mark — 3 o’clock on this watch — also adds a dash more design to the watch face, as does the Maison’s appliqué Maltese cross in pink gold under the “12”.
The Manual-Wound Caliber 4400 AS
Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin, the Caliber 4400 AS powers the Historiques American 1921 Small. A mechanical, manual-winding movement, it beats at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and offers a power reserve of approximately 65 hours. Visible via a sapphire crystal caseback, the caliber is made up of 127 components yet, incredibly, is just 2.8 mm thick.
Complementary to the watch’s color combination, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 Small is paired with a large square scales brown alligator leather strap that has been hand-stitched and saddle-finished. Rounding off the timepiece’s overall design, the strap is fitted with an 18K pink gold buckle also adorned with Vacheron Constantin’s signature Maltese cross. Giving it an even bolder look, the watch is delivered with a second red alligator leather strap that enjoys a shiny finish.
There’s a growing trend for smaller and slimmer watches these days–for both men and women. It’s a refreshing change from the oversized sports watches that dominated the scene for a while. If elegance and eccentricity is what you’re after, then look no further than the Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 Small. A watch designed around the rotation of its movement 45 degrees counter-clockwise to ensure the ease of reading the time, this is a piece for avant-garde haute horology connoisseurs.