Retrograde Dreams

Recently, I blogged about a watch that didn’t quite match expectations in the translation from photo to the physical watch. As a counterpoint, I thought that I’d blog about a watch that I fell in love with in photos, and which has happily shown itself to be every bit as desirable and beautiful in the metal – Vacheron Constantin’s Patrimony Contemporaine Bi-retrograde (Reference: 86020/000R-9239).

Yes I know that it’s not a new watch, but it’s still in production, and it’s on my ‘dream list’.

The Contemporaine line probably lends itself to appealing more to conservative or traditional tastes, generally speaking, so in a way a retrograde design is almost borderline adventurous. The Bi-retrograde model comes in rose gold and platinum versions. As someone who prefers white metals, the latter would probably be my first choice, but this RG one is still quite stunning, and I’d wear it in a heartbeat. It has a simple, slender round case, gold triangular hour markers, gold dots to mark minutes; and a dial that is slightly curved. The retrograde date display is in the top half of the dial, the day of the week display in the bottom half, both tracing an arc of nearly 180 degrees.

If you turn it over, there’s a sapphire open caseback which reveals Vacheron’s Ref.2460 movement, which they regards as a descendant of their well-known and well regarded automatic Cal.1120 that they introduced in the 1960s. Calibre 1120 itself is a version of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Calibre 920. The movement is 5.40mm thick with 283 parts, 27 jewels, a frequency of 28,800 VPH and an approximately 40 hour power reserve.

The functions are few – hours, minutes, retrograde calendar, day of the week. The retrograde hands, with white triangular tips, flick back to their starting positions in less than 1/10 of a second.

With a case size of 42.5mm and a thickness of 10.10mm, it’s an elegant and very wearable timepiece that looks large but sits very comfortably, and smaller than you’d think. I love retrogrades, and particularly like the symmetry and balance of the Patrimony’s dial. The silvered opaline finish gives the dial an additional bit of tonal softness. I know that it’s still relatively early days yet, but I’ll hazard a guess that this becomes a long term classic for Vacheron.

There’s a special buzz when you try on a watch that you fell in love with in a photo and realise that yes, it really is that nice. Now, just let me get back to my horological ‘dream list’ …

Categories: Hands-on, Vacheron Constantin, Watch Profile, watches

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