For the opening of its first store in Paris, located at 2 Rue de la Paix, Vacheron Constantin revisits its iconic asymmetrical model
On June 23, 1972, in the reception rooms of the prestigious Ritz Hotel, the Comité de France bestowed the rare and coveted « Prestige de la France » award on Vacheron Constantin.
Vacheron Constantin’s 1972 collection has been making an impression for over four decades. Today, there is a new men’s version of this timeless icon inspired by the original. Like the 1972 creation, the most recent arrival displays the balanced asymmetry that strictly follows the proportions of the golden section. Made of white gold, the new 1972 Prestige also houses a precious ultra-thin mechanical movement. A model of sophistication and elegance, this new icon bears the Poinçon de Genève.
Some timepieces are born under a lucky star and destined to change history. Vacheron Constantin’s 1972 model is definitely one of these. On June 23, 1972, in the reception rooms of the prestigious Ritz Hotel not far from 2 Rue de la Paix, the Comité de France bestowed the rare and coveted Prestige de la France award on Vacheron Constantin in tribute to the brand’s distinctive expertise, acquired through a desire to achieve authenticity, technical perfection, and elegance. Vacheron Constantin is the first watchmaking manufacture to have been honoured with this award.
In celebration of this honour, the Geneva company brought out a wristwatch of astonishingly innovative appearance, with an asymmetrical design that was exceedingly daring for its time. It was made in an extremely limited series, and the back was engraved with the Prestige de la France coat of arms. Since then, Vacheron Constantin has continued to offer this asymmetrical shape in various sizes and proportions, sometimes in ladies’ watches and sometimes in men’s, such that it has developed into the iconic 1972 collection.
Precious metal and the golden section
The 1972 Prestige hearkens back to its roots in the historic model. It has the same elegance and harmonious proportions, is the same size, and houses – as it did back in the day – a mechanical hand-wound movement. Like the original, the new 1972 is embellished with Prestige de la France engraved on the back. This nod to history, and to one of the countless creative episodes that have been enriching Vacheron Constantin’s legacy for over 250 years, is much more than a bold and unusual watch: it is the culmination of a formal study that drew on art and cultural history as the source of the obvious harmony in its evenly distributed proportions. The 1972 Prestige takes its strength and balance from the principles of the golden section. For example, the dimension of the longest side of the case, divided by the length of the sapphire crystal on the opposite side, equals 1.618 – the famous golden section that appears in several of the greatest successes in the history of art and architecture, from the facade of the Parthenon in Athens to Le Corbusier’s Modulor.
This restrained silhouette is further set off by the polished white gold case. The natural reflections emphasise the curving lines and shapes of this elegant timepiece. Like all the models in this collection, the 1972 Prestige has a cambered profile that reiterates the arched dial and sapphire crystal. For a highly sophisticated touch, the grey satin-finished sunburst dial features subtle chevron motifs accentuated by two 18K 5N pink gold dauphine hands.
A legendary calibre
Since its beginnings, the 1972 collection has always housed remarkable mechanical movements. The new 1972 Prestige is no exception, since at its heart beats Vacheron Constantin’s Calibre 1003, an extraordinary mechanical movement. While the fact that it is made of gold already sets it apart from most movements on the market, its other features are what have made it truly legendary.
Calibre 1003 was developed starting in 1952 and introduced on the company’s two-hundredth birthday in 1955. To this day, it remains the thinnest mechanical hand-wound movement on the market. Considered by many experts to be one of the most beautiful and sophisticated ultra-thin movements, Calibre 1003 has been defying the laws of mechanics for over 50 years. Making it is extremely complicated, and regulating it takes all the expertise of a Fine Watchmaking firm. On this occasion, Vacheron Constantin has chosen to use a revisited version of this calibre. It remains only 1.64 mm thick – still a record for thinness on the market. In contrast, its finishes are more sophisticated than in the early days, because now the bridges and plate are made of 18K gold. Its 117 components work at a frequency of 18,000 vph, and despite its minuscule size it has a power reserve of over 30 hours. It is meticulously finished: applying the Côtes de Genève motif, circular graining and bevelling of the components, and drawing of the steel parts is all done entirely by hand.
Today, the extreme slenderness of Vacheron Constantin’s Calibre 1003 is paired with the 1972 Prestige model in service to a new stylistic expression, emboldened by the asymmetrical white gold case (waterresistant to 30 metres) and brown alligator leather strap. As a fitting final touch to an exceptional piece, the 1972 Prestige bears the famous Poinçon de Genève (Hallmark of Geneva).
A limited edition of 40 for special Boutiques
The same is true of a second version of this 1972 Prestige, which is styled with more contrast in shades of black and white. Unveiled for the opening of Vacheron Constantin’s new Paris shop at 2 Rue de la Paix, it is offered in a limited edition of 40 pieces as a boutique exclusive. Extremely sophisticated, it stands out for its shining silvered dial and glossy black strap and naturally also has all the other features that make the 1972 Prestige an exceptional watch in every way.
Hallmark of Geneva certified timepieces
Caliber 1003, ultra-thin, 18K gold
Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin
Energy Mechanical hand-wound
Movement diameter 21.10 mm (9’’’ ¼ )
Movement thickness 1.64 mm
Number of components 117
Frequency 2.5Hz (18,000 vibrations/hour)
Indications Hours, minutes
Power reserve approx. 31 hours
Case 18K white gold
“Prestige de la France” engraved on caseback
25mm x 47mm, thickness: 8.72mm
Water resistance Tested at a pressure of 3 bar (approx. 30 metres)
Dial Grey sunbrushed with transferred chevron pattern
Bracelet Brown Mississippiensis alligator leather strap with alligator leather inner shell, stitched-tip, large square scales