Every House of Haute Horlogerie owes some of its stature to its past, especially when its past extends over two and a half centuries. Inspired by scores of milestone designs, and reinterpreted in keeping with the finest and most authentic traditions of horology, Historiques timepieces bring that spirit to life with a full measure of genuine horological tradition.
The Historiques Ultra Fine 1955 was first introduced in 2010 and it was at the time of its launch, the thinnest mechanical watch in the world, at only 4.1 mm thick overall. It also had what at the time was the thinnest mechanical wristwatch movement ever made: the Vacheron Constantin caliber 1003, which was and is a full-bridge, hand wound caliber measuring only 1.64 mm thick.
This model is actually based on a watch that the company first made in the year 1955, and which was introduced with the caliber 1003. Vacheron Constantin made no bones about it; the watch was referred to as “la montre la plus plate du monde” in its advertising – the flattest watch in the world.
The watch is so thin and light you almost feel as if you’re wearing a cut-out of a watch. It seems forbiddingly simple at first but if you spend some time with it, it starts to take on a kind of stark richness all its own. The vanishingly small clearances for the hands are worth a close look as they reveal just what a tight fit it is for all the components inside the watch, and the case making alone is worth the price of admission Vacheron managed to make the case both extremely thin, and yet rigid enough to make a safe-as-houses home for the caliber 1003 inside. Though it’s a very simple timepiece, it’s also impeccably made throughout.
In the Historiques Ultra-Fine 1955, it is a beautiful thing: the plate and bridges are in pink gold (as are the case and hands) and it’s a wonderfully ornate, archaic counterpoint to the impassive, almost marmoreal splendor of the dial.
This isn’t an inexpensive investment, but it is not only a record-holder and a record holder, in 2015, for 60 years but it is in addition, and probably more importantly, a gorgeous example of a very demanding and very particular kind of watchmaking.
Records come and go, and they may briefly make history but the Vacheron Historiques Ultra-Fine 1955 is history.
If you’ve a liking for really beautifully done unrepentantly classic watchmaking, the Historiques Ultra Fine 1955 is for you.