Oscar Wilde once wrote; “no object is so beautiful that, under certain conditions, it will not look ugly”. However, the Irishman clearly never saw this latest creation from Vacheron Constantin.

I could never envisage any condition where the graceful form of the Patrimony Traditionnelle Lady manual-winding could ever look anything other than beauteous. The Genevan brand made a bold statement to the assembled journalists at SIHH 2013. With only a couple of exceptions, all the novelties were aimed at female purchasers. Models were presented in both round and tonneau-shaped cases, with mechanical and quartz movements and in some instances with lustrous enameled dials.

There was much to applaud. I do not deny, I am no fan of quartz movements, but accept some ladies prefer the convenience of a battery-powered watch. Yet, there were several models that beautifully conveyed the prowess of the Manufacture Hologère with finely finished mechanical movements.

One such model, that immediately appealed to me, was the Patrimony Traditionnelle Lady manual-winding presented in 18K white gold. This may seem a strange statement for an alpha male to make, but it is the craftsmanship and design which garners my praise.

The dial

A silver opaline dial with grey painted minute-track provides a serene background for the various details on the dial. The hours and minutes are conveyed with white gold Dauphine-shaped hands. Hours are marked with simple applied white gold batons, save for the quarter hours where double batons feature. The brand’s nomenclature resides below noon with the company’s place of origin proudly proclaimed.

Indeed, it is a Genevan residency that allows the company to seek, and in this instance feature, the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva on the watch. An applied white gold Maltese Cross, the brand’s logo since 1880, features near the top of the dial.

All aspects are delivered in pleasing accord. Nothing appears extraneous. The dial conveys information in a hushed tone with clear diction. It is a voice you wish to hear because its dialogue has value.

The case

A case diameter of 33 mm and a height of 7.65 mm should provide universal appeal to the majority of would-be wearers. Vacheron Constantin is known for its mastery of several trades prevalent within the higher echelons of Haute horology. The diamond-set bezel on this model features 54 round-cut diamonds, approximately 0.88 carats. Their uniformity is incredible and a testament to the gem setters accomplished skill. This timepiece reaffirms the brand’s eminence for adroit craftsmanship.

The model is available in 18K pink gold, but somehow I felt it lacked the same profound appeal of the white gold variant. The white gold version is so beautiful, it will be offered many more hands in marriage than its sibling. The caseband, lugs, and caseback feature a highly polished finish. In some instances, satin-brushing of surfaces softens the aesthetics of neighboring polished surfaces.

However, in this case, the universal use of polished white gold has proved to be a wise design choice. The tasteful demeanor of the watch is not corrupted by focusing purely on the glinting appeal of polished metal. The caseband has a delicate fluted edge, adjacent to the caseback. It is a small, yet refined detail, which enhances the form. Owners are indulged with a spectacular view of the movement within, courtesy of a sapphire caseback.

I applaud Vacheron Constantin for respecting the increasing number of ladies who wish to see the mechanical heart of the watch industriously beating.

The movement

We have seen the Calibre 1400 feature on other models including the Patrimony Contemporaine. However, the wearers of the Contemporaine are denied the sight of the movement due to its solid caseback.

The Poinçon de Genève or Hallmark of Geneva places onerous requirements on those companies who wish to mark their watches accordingly. Frequent inspections, typically fortnightly, by the Laboratoire d’Horlogerie et de Microtechnique de Genève, ensure all specified criteria are met.

The bridges are beautifully adorned with Côtes de Genève motif. Close examination reveals breathtaking bevelling. The perfectly delivered 45° edge is the fruition of deft work.

If you examine the crown wheel atop the spring barrel, you will notice it is perfectly presented with circular graining.

The balance spring is secured with a sliding stud cap with a round head and neck. On the upper surface of the bridges, the jewel sinks are polished and the rubies are semi-mirror polished on their upper surface.

Screw heads are magnificent in their execution. They are polished, with beveled edges and sublimely defined slots. The finissage is magnificent on the Calibre 1400 and it justifies the premium pricing typically found with this marque.


I have a strong liking for this ladies’ timepiece for several reasons. The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Lady manual-winding harnesses a magnificent movement. It delivers much of the distilled excellence we have grown accustomed to seeing from this Genevan brand. The artisans who work at the atelier in the Genevan suburb are spellbinding to watch.

I had the privilege to witness this first hand in 2012 and it left an indelible impression on my psyche. Few companies can usurp the excellence practiced by Vacheron Constantin. Admiring the gem-set bezel, one could become transfixed by the artistry exampled and potentially overlook other aspects of the pulchritudinous form. However, this is not an outré timepiece designed to appeal to nouveau-riche magpies. This is a debutante who has impeccable breeding, tastefully attired with a modicum of judiciously applied make-up to enhance her appeal. The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle Lady manual-winding is beautiful and will always remain so, whatever the conditions. (Ref. 81590-000G-9848)

Posted by:Angus Davies