While most of the press wax lyrical over the ultra complicated Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra Thin Grand Complication Split Seconds Chronograph, we were quite taken by the quiet elegance and relative simplicity of the Vacheron Constantin Harmony Single Button Chronograph Caliber 3300.
The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Single Button Chronograph
What intrigues us? Especially when the VC Harmony collection comprises of two other chronographs viz the Ultra Thin Grand Complication Split Seconds Chronograph and the Tourbillon Chronograph? Indeed the other two are more complicated, and some would say more sexy…what with a tourbillon and a split seconds on the mix. But the more humble Single Button gets our pick. Well, we were fascinated with the pureness of the lines, with the simplicity of the design goal as well as the function. We love the way it is constructed, with the myriads of tiny details which make the watch a stunner. Discovering the background of the design also make us more attracted to the watch. And we adore the finishing. And finally, we like the the price too. At a reasonably value for money, relatively affordable S$105,600.
Design, art and finishing: beauty in the eyes of the beholder
Please also look at our article on the Harmony series as an example for good finishing here. See also the detailed specifications on our coverage of the Harmony Press Release here. We already covered our views of the case design, the dial design in some detail in that article, so we will not repeat except for additional photographs to showcase.
The chronograph works demand some attention. Based on an old 1928 chronograph design, it turned out somewhat looking like the Lemania 2310. This is somewhat unfortunate because this leads pundits to speculate that the base movement is sourced from a Lemania ebauche. In a discussion with VC’s Artistic Director, Christian Selmoni, he revealed that this is not true. While VC continues to use Lemania ebauche movements in its (other) chronograph, the calibers 3300, 3400 and 3500 used in the Harmony series chronographs are all in-house developed from ground up. But the similarities with the bridge layout to the Lemania 2310 is more than merely a co-incidental. It was a design cue VC took as a nod to their past, and a tribute to the great chronographs of the 1930s when Lemania reigned supreme.
The choice of a single button chronograph is also a throwback to the heady days of the 1930s, and speaks of a certain elegance in the simplicity of not having multiple buttons on the case. For the uninitiated, a single button chronograph, coaxial to the crown is added complication, but to the skilled chronograph exponent, this is a small design choice which can be handled easily and reliably.
Also of interest is the use of a lateral clutch friction system for the chronograph. A more modern approach would be to use a vertical clutch system like the one in the rival Patek Philippe 5370. In the past Patek Philippe have also shared the same Lemania 2310 ebauche with VC, but now only uses their own movement with a vertical clutch.
Technically, the vertical clutch is perhaps a superior solution as it minimises the jump in the chronograph hand on activation. But the lateral clutch is more traditional, and classical. The VC caliber 3300 (and 3400, 3500 as well) uses the lateral clutch, a nod towards tradition and classical. However, it must be noted that a well tuned lateral clutch system can be very good. The jump is minimal, and the system is robust. Other notable lateral clutch chronograph are those from A. Lange & Söhne, the Datograph being prime example.