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Review of the Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Openworked ION Boutique Singapore Edition

by Chester Lau on March 8, 2015

 

Firstly, a huge congratulations to Vacheron Constantin on its successful boutique opening in ION Orchard Singapore. To our dear readers who are in Singapore and have yet to see the boutique, it is a must see, with many fantastic pieces in store.

In line with the Openworked theme and the Flagship store’s opening, Vacheron Constantin has released this exclusive Openworked Malte Tourbillon, specially limited to 3 pieces. It is a variation of the main production piece but this time with darkened bridges. So what do we think of this piece?

vc-tourbillon-skel-dial

The Vacheron Constantin  Malte Tourbillon Openworked Singapore edition, has an almost invisible dial save for the cut-out for the tourbillon bridge and the frosted date ring at two o’clock.

 

Let’s begin with first impressions. Familiar to many, the iconic Malte case is sized at 38.00 x 48.24 mm and 12.73 mm in height. It wears nicely on the wrist and has adequate heft. Cased in platinum, it is not a thin or lightweight piece. This edition is a variation of the regular production Malte skeleton tourbillon, which employs engraving on the bridges. We find in comparison the former to be more traditional but otherwise overtly elaborate. In contrast, this boutique edition uses a NAC (N-acetylcysteine) treatment, to blacken platine and bridges and also to provide resistance to oxidation. Finishing wise, it uses straight graining with some bevelled angling. The choice of darkening the bridges gives the watch a more modern touch, congruent with the concept of transparent sapphire dials.

Personally, I wasn’t taken to the watch at first glance. This is partially because I am not a fan of the tonneau shape maltes. (Although I am a great fan of the Patrimony Traditionnelle round cases.) Secondly, the colour theme of the watch is out of the norm. To match the dark grey bridges, it uses a grey alligator strap, which is not the brown or black or even blue straps used in most platinum lines. Overall, the watch looked significantly different from the usual Vacheron Constantin lineup. It was a mash mix between modernity, and classicism. And we all know that Vacheron yields far better results in the classic department. The result, I found that to be highly unusual, but then again, not in a distasteful way.

vc-tourbillon-skel-tourbillon-detail

It features the highly iconic Maltese cross that showcases the highest levels of finishing. The anglage on the cross tapers and curves with such fluidity, while still being identical at all four quarters.

Once again, the movement finishing on this piece is of the highest levels, much expected of a watch of this range and calibre. It houses the tonneau-shaped Caliber 2790SQ, that beats at 2.5Hz (18,000 VPH) and has a power reserve of about 45 hours. The mention of power reserve fondly reminds me of the 14-day Patrimony Traditionelle tourbillon, which many would find to be much more impressive technically.

 

vc-tourbillon-skel-back

A caseback view of the movement with artisan level finishing and well balanced symmetry in its layout.

Technical specs aside, this boutique edition is all about cultivated taste and finer appreciation of skeleton finishing. One has to understand that it is not the usual movement finishing, on plates and bridges. Skeleton movements in and of itself are aesthetic and engineering complications. Construction of the parts and finishing on skeleton bridges are much more difficult and painstaking tasks as compared to the usual movements.

vc-tourbillon-skel

There is a certain stealthiness and undeniably cool factor with the darkened bridges. The hanging roman 12 and dauphine hands also add to the overall balance of the skeleton design.

vc-tourbillon-skel-wrist

In conclusion, though this piece may appear unusual to some, it is meant to be a head turner, and to keep its wearer occupied with figuring out the thought and ingenuity behind its construction. After all, there are some pieces that are love at first sight, and others that are cultivated and long lasting relationships.

It is priced at 385,200 Singapore dollars, inclusive of 7% tax, which is significantly higher than the usual Malte tourbillon. From what we have heard, at this price range, many would find the complication inadequate and that there are many other great watches to choose from. However, for those who love skeleton watches, and truly appreciate its craft, this Openworked boutique edition is a must have for two simple reasons. One. It is a highly unusual Vacheron. Two. There will only be three of these watches. Ever.

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