The complete calendar is a complication that is, in itself, a sum of other complications, namely the day, date, month, and moon phase. Not to be confused with the triple calendar (which does without the moon phase), the complete calendar is one of horology’s most practical and poetic displays. In the realm of luxury watchmaking, none are more familiar with the complication than Vacheron Constantin. The illustrious Genevan watch manufacturer has complete calendar watches in no fewer than three of its collections to date. Of the lot, the Traditionnelle Complete Calendar is arguably the most puristic and classical.
Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Complete Calendar Openface
Towards the tail end of 2021, Vacheron Constantin has given the household Traditionnelle Complete Calendar a significant facelift. The latest version of the model opts for an open design, utilising sapphire crystal as dial and in some of its displays. The result is a thoroughly modern Vacheron Constantin that forgoes dressiness for intrigue. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Traditionnelle Complete Calendar Openface.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
For the new Openface models, Vacheron Constantin has decided to leave the casing completely unchanged from the “regular” models. The cases are rendered either in white gold or pink gold, measure 41 mm x 10.7 mm, and feature a stepped design with a slim bezel and fluted case back.
While the casing is left untouched, the dial, in contrast, is morphed to something that speaks an entirely different design language. Ever since the release of the critically acclaimed Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar, Vacheron Constantin has gained a penchant for experimenting with sapphire crystal. In the new Traditionnelle Complete Calendar Openface, sapphire crystal, instead of the usual metal, is selected as the material of choice for the dial. The see-through quality of sapphire crystal allows the movement underneath it to be revealed in its full glory. In addition to the main dial, the twin discs that display the day and month are also crafted in sapphire for additional transparency. Continuing the theme, the moon phase display is fitted with semi-opaque, bosom-shaped sapphire to (partially) hide the photorealistic moon as it disappears from the sky. The poetic display scores full marks not just for artistic execution, but also for functionality, for it remains accurate to within a day every 122 years. The only dial elements that have remained unaltered are the dauphine hands that point out the hours and minutes, the crescent-tipped date hand, and the date ring on the perimeter (still opaque like before).
Importantly, this “airy” design of the dial provides a chance to admire the various well-finished parts of the movement, including the bridges, mainplate, springs, and wheels. It highlights the technical nature of the complete calendar watch. To add a little flourishing to an otherwise industrial looking facade, there is a slate grey guilloched segment behind the upper half section of the sapphire crystal dial.
Driving the Traditionnelle Complete Calendar Openface is the familiar 312-part, 27-jewel Calibre 2460 QCL/2, inspired from the Calibre 2460 QCL. The original Calibre 2460 QCL was first equipped in the Harmony Complete Calendar and Traditionelle Complete Calendar – Collection Excellence Platine watches. It features a full central rotor adorned with a guilloched motif. Next in line was the Calibre 2460 QCL/1; the only change here relative to its older sibling is in the rotor where it has been skeletonised to form a Maltese cross. Fast forward to December 2021, the latest incarnation of Vacheron Constantin’s complete calendar movement, the Calibre 2460 QCL/2, sees the plate and bridges given a different treatment. In line with the Openface variant’s industrial chic design language, the movement adopts an anthracite grey finish achieved by NAC galvanic surface treatment. The Calibre 2460 QCL/2 has a power reserve of 40 hours and operates at a modern 28,800 vph.
As expected from Vacheron Constantin, the view through both front and back sapphire crystals reveals finissage that one would typically find in an haute horlogerie movement: a circular-grained mainplate, chamfered bridges with polished edges and Côtes de Genève, polished steel springs and screw heads, and straight graining, among other decorations on display.
The Competitive Landscape
Complete calendar watches are not uncommon, but no one really does it like Vacheron Constantin. Even amongst high end brands, the grand dame of watchmaking stands out with its impeccable execution of the astronomical complication. Such excellence, understandably, does come at a price. Retailing at USD47,300 for both the white gold and pink gold variants, the Traditionnelle Complete Calendar Openface is one of the more expensive complete calendar watches in the market.
For something mechanically identical but significantly less pricey, look no further than the Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Complete Calendar. The watch is fitted with the Calibre 2460 QCL/1, which is essentially the same movement found in the Traditionelle Complete Calendar Openface minus the NAC galvanic coating and sapphire crystal. In terms of value proposition, it is perhaps the FiftySix Complete Calendar in stainless steel with blue dial that is most enticing. Its simple, no-frills design coupled with a non-precious metal casing allows it to be priced at a competitive USD24,000, almost half the price Traditionelle Complete Calendar Openface.
Another brand that has made significant inroads into complete calendar watches is none other than Blancpain. Back in 2018, Blancpain introduced the Villeret Quantième Complet Phases de Lune GMT in rose gold and stainless steel. As the name would suggest, the watch has GMT, as well as complete calendar functionality. The most striking feature of the dress watch is the signature Blancpain moon with a face. The Villeret Quantième Complet Phases de Lune GMT may not be as meticulously finished as the Vacheron Constantin specimens but it is also the least expensive of the lot here. Priced at around SGD22,000 for the stainless steel variant, the watch offers immense bang for buck.
It’s not the flashiest complication out there, but Vacheron Constantin sure know how to get the best out of the complete calendar. The Complete Calendar Openface is unabashedly modern in its presentation, but at the same time, it retains the refinement found in all Traditionnelle watches. It is refreshing to see staple Vacheron Constantin pieces receive the sapphire crystal treatment in such a tasteful manner – expect more to come in the future.