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Old 23 May 2021, 09:47 PM   #1
Guybrush
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Vacheron Traditionelle Under the (Digital) Loupe

I've fallen pretty hard for my VC Traditionelle---it's the 82172 in white gold. This is my first (possibly last) haute horlogerie piece, and the 4400 movement---even if it's just a "base" movement for VC---has me spellbound. Just for the hell of it, I decided to put it under my son's USB illuminated microscope. This thing is low-res with very harsh lighting, so I wasn't expecting professional-grade sharpness, contrast, or color-rendition. (I didn't feel like digging out my DSLR and macro lens just yet.) Still, it was impressive to see some of the detailing up close, especially given how poor my near-vision has gotten.

First an establishing shot of the watch (which, owing to my incompetence, includes a dash of me in the case reflection...).
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Old 23 May 2021, 09:50 PM   #2
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Next, some dial detail: the font is impeccably crisp, even at >20x magnification; you can also appreciate VC's alternate graining of the hands, which makes one of the angled surfaces dark and the other light, no matter how they're illuminated---it's a striking feature in the metal. Also the snailing of the subdial (which is not visible to my naked eye, anyway), and how that subdial sits in relief within the main dial.
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Old 23 May 2021, 09:54 PM   #3
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The balance wheel assembly, and also the almost fanatical and gratuitous attention to detail that would inspire VC to include circular graining on the metal underneath that assembly---again, something you'd probably not be able to notice without a loupe and some light. (My understanding is that obverse surface of the movement---which only a watchmaker would ever see--is similarly finished.
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Old 23 May 2021, 09:56 PM   #4
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The poincon de Geneve hallmark on the movement---this is tiny, and even at high magnification, the cheap microscope had difficulty really homing in on it. But you get the idea.
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Old 23 May 2021, 09:59 PM   #5
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And finally, one of the cover plates, showcasing the cotes de Geneve finishing and the fine beveling of the plate edges themselves---these features are best appreciated by moving the watch around, allowing the light to play off of them. But I think the image captures the idea, anyway.

Just thought I'd share my nerding-out with others. I'm sure the honeymoon stage will be over soon. :)
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Old 23 May 2021, 10:10 PM   #6
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A very nice watch and some great pictures.
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Old 23 May 2021, 10:13 PM   #7
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Cheers!
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Old 23 May 2021, 10:25 PM   #8
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The VC Traditionelle is a Calatrava killer.
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Old 23 May 2021, 10:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigAppleBill View Post
The VC Traditionelle is a Calatrava killer.
You said it. I spent weeks considering a new 5196g that an AD had on-hand for me (and a few other preowned Calatravas as well), but this piece, which I got new from an AD, just made me forget about the Pateks entirely. I considered the case against VC: poorer resale compared to PP, especially. But I don't buy watches with a plan to resell them soon or think of them as investments---and anyway, market trends and fads can change in the long term. This watch is stunning, and I suspect I'll come out ok if I try to sell it years and years from now (when my son tells me he'd rather just wear his 50th-generation Apple Watch to his wedding or something).

Patek is un-disrespectable: no question they make some of the finest watches in the world, and if I could afford one of the higher-end Calatravas, I'd probably go for it. But at the brand entry-point for dressier watches, the Traditionelle satisfies me way more than the solid-caseback, small-movement, slightly-smaller-cased, grayish-dialled, and (to my very subjective eyes) overall less-interesting 5196. I even prefer the matte black of the strap on the VC vs. the glossy one on the PP.

All that said: if anyone's looking for a gently-preowned 5196g from an extremely reputable dealer (a Rolex and Vacheron AD) with their own 2-year warranty, PM me: I've got a lead on one. $18k, which is a damn good price. It's not (yet) listed on their website, so you won't find it by internet searching. I turned it down before getting the VC from someone else (as this place didn't have the Traditionelle in wg), but the extremely cordial and knowledgeable sales rep made it hard for me to do so! (To be clear, this is not the brand new 5196 mentioned above that I was considering from a PP AD.)
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Old 25 May 2021, 04:19 AM   #10
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Among the top tier big brands, the quiet and unpretentious excellence you get with VC is really something. Yes, Patek is much better at romance and storytelling. Yes, Lange is visually more striking. But if what you want is the actual physical tasks of watchmaking and finishing (rather than design, engineering, marketing, etc…) executed as thoroughly well as they should be, from the simplest watches on, VC is where you have to go among the big ones (or you have to seek out certain independents).
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