A watch that could have inspired The Great Gatsby – Introducing the dazzling new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique
Editor’s note: This is a Mind, Body & Soul review of the new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique watch. In addition to our standard long form reviews, we sometimes preview watches in the form of short descriptions, technical specifications and a creative infographic. These short form reviews, or Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) reviews as we like to call them, are meant for those who are in a rush and wish to get their watch fix fast. For our standard reviews, please head to our detailed review section here.
What is it: The new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique
Why: Inspired by a 1916 watch emblematic of the Belle Époque — the Belle Époque or La Belle Époque is the term often given to a period of French history that refers to the time period between 1880 and 1914 — it is released as an ode to the rich feminine heritage of VC, and is a new variation of the existing Heure Romantique model ref. 37640/000G-B030 that rounds out the Heures Créatives collection.
When released: September 25th, 2020
Where: Available exclusively in Vacheron Constantin boutiques
Who is it for: For the lady that likes her jewellery and timepieces equally.
How does it do: The most striking feature is the Art Nouveau inspired case design, that’s both timeless and elegant. Such is the charm that it reminds me of some ancient paintings with queens and princesses leisurely flirting away their time, wearing jewellery like this. Like a flower about to bloom, it brings a sense of joy, one that is embodied in its graceful volutes, flowing curves and arabesques inspired by nature. The next best part? It’s not a quartz powered watch. Nothing against quartz — though I can see watch snobs grimacing — but we at WYGDAI find that timepieces released exclusively for women are often sans mechanical hearts and that’s cringeworthy on so many levels. The new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique features a mechanical manual-winding movement, the calibre 1055 (and more on that in a bit).
Missing: It’s not very often I say that a feminine centric design should be transferred over to a men’s collection, but a simple, no frills, no diamonds, stainless steel version of this targeted at both men and women would be amazing. I realise it’s like a flower, but I for one am getting a bit tired of the same case designs. And like I say in all my reviews and commentary, I would appreciate the water-resistance to be at least 50m.
The new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique reference 37640/000G-B659 features a manual winding in-house calibre 1055 with a 40-hour power reserve. The 15.7mm diameter and 2.1mm thick movement comprises of 21 jewels, 115 components, beats at the low frequency of 3Hz (21,600 Vph), and offers the functions of central hours and minutes only.
The movement is encased inside a body that takes the form of an 18K white gold flower whose curves are set with 104 diamonds on two levels. The dimensions of the delightfully odd shaped case measure 26.5 x 36.2 mm, and the rather slim movement helps in keeping the watch case slim as well, with the overall thickness coming in at 7.4mm. Keeping in sync with the overall symmetry and geometry of the timepiece, the new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique also features finely crafted and tiny leaf-type lugs, also covered in diamonds.
Speaking of diamonds, it is glitz-ville here: the timepiece overall boasts of 123 round-cut diamonds, for a total weight of approx. 2.60 carat. These are spread across the bezel, case and lugs (104 round-cut diamonds), the 3’o clock crown (1 round-cut diamond), and the diamond-set 18K white gold folding clasp (18 round-cut diamonds).
The dial features Poire hands and transferred Roman numerals set on a black mother-of-pearl dial. This is not a completely revolutionary novelty for VC, as there already exists pretty much the same watch in a white mother-of-pearl dial, the Heures Créatives Romantique in white gold with a similar diamond-set case retailing for $84’500 AUD. But the use of black mother-of-pearl is rarer than its white cousin in horology, and I prefer the new version more.
Completing the overall chic and elegant look are the two straps the new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique comes with; the black satin option (our pick of the two) or the black Mississippiensis alligator strap.
In regards to putting the new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique into context, well to be frank there are various other nature inspired ladies watches around. Some feature quartz movements, some mechanical. Some of the more interesting ones that come to mind are the Van Cleef & Arpels Marguerite Secrète watch ref. VCARO8SP00 with a quartz movement, the Jaquet Droz Lady 8 Flower that features a stunning engraved mother-of-pearl dial and has an automatic movement, the quirky Christophe Claret Margot watch with an automatic movement, the beautiful Graff MasterGraff Floral automatic timepiece, or the Piaget Limelight Gala high jewellery watch. The latter is encased inside a 36.8 x 28.6mm 18K white gold case set with 91 brilliant-cut diamonds (approx. 5.28 cts) and 83 marquise-cut sapphires. And like all the watches above, this ref. G0A45171 featuring Piaget’s 56P quartz movement is visually stunning.
These are all horology meets jewelry masterpieces in their own rights, but there is a certain edge to the new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique. This could be due to the mechanical hand-winding movement as there is something romantic and personal about winding a watch like this, feeling it ‘breathe’, caressing its curves and marvelling in its beauty as one winds it.
Or this could be simply personal though; being an architect, Art Nouveau happens to be one of the eras I have personally been inspired by, and a watch stemming from its essence is pretty interesting to me.
Come to think of it, La Belle Époque in itself was an interesting time. Renoir, Monet and Pablo Picasso were the masters of the day. Art Nouveau — new art — was the call of the day, an aesthetic movement inspired by the forms and structures of nature. Even architects tried to incorporate natural elements into designs, with masterpieces such as Gustave Eiffel’s thousand-foot tower and Gallerie des Machines causing debates globally. Jeanne Paquin’s fashion ruled the day.
And just like the Paris of early 1900s — the ‘city of lights’ — glittered with brilliance, so does this homage timepiece.
The new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique is the latest addition to the Heures Créatives collection that was unveiled five years ago, and can summarised by a quote by the American poet Allen Ginsberg: “You can’t escape the past in Paris, and yet what’s so wonderful about it is that the past and present intermingle so intangibly that it doesn’t seem to burden.”
It is hard to escape the past with the new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique; the beauty of this release in a black mother-of-pearl dial is it’s wonderful ability to sit well on modern wrists, while at the same time epitomise the irreplaceable charm of La Belle Époque.
To find out more about the new Vacheron Constantin Heure Romantique and other VC timepieces, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are ©Vacheron Constantin. All rights reserved.