The SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) will only open end of January, but some brands are already unveiling some of their 2014 novelties. One of the very first to shoot is Vacheron Constantin. The manufacture offered to new models of its Malte collection. This Malte reference might not be the most spectacular one in the manufacture’s portfolio. However, watch fans do love it, for one single reason : it’s a ‘mouvement de forme’, a caliber perfectly designed for the shape of its case.
Unfortunately, as this stage, some might remember that such calibers were the rule a century ago, but became exceptions around 50 years ago. The main reason is industrialisation : it’s easier to place a round caliber everywhere, even in tonneau, coussin or square cases. One of the mose spectacular example is TAG Heuer’s Monaco, from 1969. It’s blue, iconic square case embarked from the beginning (and still does, apart from the V4 version), a round movement, the famous Calibre 11 (before it was replaced ny the still round Calibre 12).
Nowadays, only a few brands still produce ‘mouvements de forme ‘. The most iconic one is probably Jaeger-LeCoultre, with its Reverso. Almost all Reversos (but one, not existing any more) have this very specific rectangular caliber. Other examples include Audemars Piguet (Millenary Carbon) or Vacheron Constantin with this Malte.
Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon – Platinum and Diamonds
The Malte already had a Tourbillon version, which was presented in 2012 in a pink gold edition. Today, it joins the Excellence Platine range of Vacheron Constantin. This parallel collection gather all the existing timepieces that are, for a limited edition, created in platinum. This is the case today for the Malte Tourbillon, therefore simply renamed Maltre Tourbillon Excellence Platine. There will be only 50 pieces, all engraved.
The Malte Tourbillon Collection Excellence Platine comes with a curving 38 x 48.24 case in 950 platinum. Secured by a 950 platinum folding clasp, the dark blue Mississippiensis alligator leather strap is graced with a saddle-stitched finish, hand-sewn with silk and 950 platinum thread. The 169-part mechanical hand-wound Calibre 2795 endows this model with an almost two-day power reserve.
This tonneau-shaped movement perfectly tailored to the case is entirely developed and crafted within the Manufacture. The tourbillon carriage, inspired by the brand’s signature Maltese cross emblem, provides a showcase for the level of finishing of each movement part, including a number of naturally hand-bevelled interior angles. Rounding off the tourbillon bar alone called for 12 hours of hand craftsmanship in order to meet the finishing criteria established by Vacheron Constantin. This technique, referred to in French as berçage, consists of filing the tips of the arms with perfect regularity so as to give them a conical and semi-cylindrical shape, while respecting the limits of the centre and the heels. To finalise the operation, the artisans smooth it down using stones, buffs, wooden pegs and special pastes in order to achieve a perfectly polished effect.
The Malte Tourbillon Collection Excellence Platine also meets the requirements of the Poinçon de Genève or Hallmark of Geneva.
The second Malte version is a haute joaillerie piece. The piece is fully set of diamonds. This is the way Vacheron Constantin chose to highlight its skills in the invisible setting, called ‘serti invisible’. Thanks to this technique, which Cartier invented with Van Cleef & Arpels in 1933, the little claws that set the stone aren’t visible. They are simply replaced by a notch on the bottom of the stone, on which it is placed. The way the stone is cut doesn’t let the notch be seen after the stone is positioned.