Black Guilloché Dial 47101 Vacheron Constantin Les Historiques Chronograph

In the world of 90s Holy Trinity chronographs, I don’t think you can argue that VC had the sexiest case. The 5070 is lovely, but not this voluptuous. It’s thoughtful enough to not be retro, yet a bastion of traditional watchmaking technique. It might just be the most elegant evening dress the 2310 has ever worn. And of the Les Historiques Chronograph, three reign above the rest: the 47100 Skeleton, Salmon guilloché in platinum, and this black guilloché in yellow gold. Vacheron’s guilloché isn’t a barleycorn, clous de Paris, or tapisserie. It’s vieux panier, which looks rather like an artist’s brushstrokes; and they simply belong on this artwork.

This is a nod to the insanely pretty 1940s ref. 4178, but punched up a bit. It’s a Singer Porsche. Oversized square pushers, a dramatic case, cleaner fonts, and a dial which added only negative space. This is, to my sensibility, the way to go about referencing your own history. It wasn’t photocopied, cough-Omega-cough, but evolved respectfully. I would’ve like to have seen that same change in the 222, but that’s already perfectly evolved like sharks. The essence of classic design has not been lost here, but it feels contemporary to hold. Les Historiques are very good at this. This one bears a 2310 with a Geneva Seal, truly perfectly finished to traditional standards. This example is made by its dial, which puts it in the more desirable 90s VCs made.

It is estimated that 1250 examples were made in yellow gold, where the vast majority had a cream-white dial. It is widely thought that around 300 examples of fewer were made with this black vieux panier, which is a bit of a 90s VC signature. That’s a pretty similar figure to the 300 salmon guilloché examples more concretely known. Both guilloché dials are usually watches which appear at big three auction houses, it’s telling that this one is offered on a Phillips strap. It is certainly not a long term investment vehicle like a 5070 or moreso 5970 is. It’s too niche, just for watch lovers. And if you just love beautifully done chronographs and tasteful watch design, the 47101 is overflowing with both. A modern classic for those paying attention, still not (crazily) prohibitively valuable.

This example appears honest, lightly worn, and not abused. The dial does have some scratches that should be noted. I’d want to get nerdy and see the hallmarks closer before buying, but it’s certainly aesthetically close enough to great condition to make no difference. It has its original Maltese Cross buckle, which is equally well-considered. It comes from a well-regarded small Swiss retailer.