Vacheron Constantin, the world’s oldest watch manufacturer, is hosting a double exhibition of its most emblematic sports watches. The Swiss horologist may be able to trace an unbroken line of production back to 1755, but the two expositions, one in its Harrods’ boutique, the other at its Old Bond Street flagship, will concentrate on tool watches dating from the 1940s.
Drawing from a catalogue of some 1,300 timepieces, the Genevan maison has curated a selection of watches that chart its entry to the luxury sports watch space, including a Turnograph Reference 6782 from the 1950s – a watch widely regarded as the first sports watch from a prestigious watchmaker.
Scroll on for some of the exhibitions’ other highlights…
Reference 2215 ‘Chronomètre Royal’, 1976
The self-winding Reference 2215 ‘Chronomètre Royal’ was only produced between 1975 and 1977. It was presented in yellow gold or steel – the first time Vacheron Constantin had used the material in the 2215 family of watches. Not that the maison dialled down the luxury completely. The hour-markers at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock are baguette-cut diamonds.
222 in yellow gold, 1981
In 1977, to celebrate its 222nd anniversary, Vacheron Constantin launched the ‘222’, its answer to the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak. Like those two luxury sports watches, the 222 featured an integrated bracelet and a porthole-type protective bezel. Designed by Jörg Hysek, it featured the Maltese cross, Vacheron Constantin’s logo, stamped on the corner of the case. This 35mm yellow-gold 222 from 1981 features an attractive slate-grey dial and a beautifully fluid link bracelet.
Phidias in yellow gold, 1991
In the late 1980s, Vacheron Constantin debuted the Phidias, a round-cased sporty number imagined by renown watch designer Dino Modolo. The 222 had just been discontinued and this was its replacement. The dial of this 36 mm yellow-gold chronograph model is punctuated by two chronograph counters, a small-seconds display and a date indicator. A tachymeter scale has been engraved on its yellow-gold bezel.
Overseas Reference 49140 in stainless steel, 2002
Also designed by Dino Modolo, the Overseas arrived in 1996 in three sizes, each with self-winding calibres, and quickly became one of Vacheron Constantin’s best-selling models. This Reference 49140 represents the first time stainless steel was used in the collection. The watch’s sporty appearance is accentuated by its crown guards, screw-down chronograph pushers and a bezel that recalls Vacheron Constantin’s Maltese cross.
Overseas II in stainless steel and titanium, 2010
The second generation Overseas was presented in 2004. Case sizes were increased to 42mm and were now water-resistant to 150m, thanks to a three-part construction secured by 16 screws. This model in steel with a titanium bezel was equipped with a GMT function, along with a day/night indicator, pointer-type date and power-reserve indicator displayed on a sunburst anthracite satin-finish dial.
Vacheron Constantin’s Sports Heritage exhibition is currently on display at 37 Old Bond Street and at Harrods until 23 November 2020, vacheron-constantin.com