‘Vieux Panier’ Guilloché 43031 Vacheron Constantin Perpetual
The 222 is not VC’s only reference forgotten to the evolution time, now only known to enthusiasts. The phrase ‘post-quartz perpetual’ brings to mind almost exclusively AP’s 5548, debuted in 1978. However, just a hair behind (in terms of investment in time it takes to develop an in-house, ultra-thin perpetual calendar), were VC with this in 1983. Patek only introduced their 3940 offering in 1985, well on VC’s heels. This model was crucial in helping Vacheron rebound and re-establish their prowess in the wake of the crisis. It is a celebration of classical mechanic watchmaking and a testament to its permanence in Switzerland.
Unlike AP where the QP Royal Oak has become their quintessential perpetual offering, Vacheron did’t really have an equivalent in the Overseas for a very long time. There have been a handful of very limited perpetual Overseas releases, but none have really stuck in the zeitgeist. The initial series of QPs from the big three are something of a neo-vintage grail set, and it’s not difficult to see why. If you want Vacheron and you want it perpetual, this is the classic. Moreover, their design approach was unique. VC reworked a Dubois-Depraz calendar module so that the day and date are shown at three and nine with months and leap year indication integrated at 12, something of a first for the display.
This seconds series marked the introduction of something truly spectacular, know as the ‘Vieux Panier’ guilloché dial, available on platinum and yellow gold. These dials are considerably less common than the smooth standard white dial. The pattern has been used since, on the 90s triple calendar and first generation Overseas. Its quite a fine a vertical texture, not really like anything else. Like modern QPs, the base calibre here is JLC 920, modified extensively and finished by hand at VC well enough to earn a Geneva Seal. Interestingly, a technical choice in movement design meant one could independently set the month on the 43031, whereas AP’s 5548 could not. It also features a lapis lazuli moon disc, a thing of extreme beauty. A wide variety of dial and case configurations were offered over this reference’s two decade run—but this guilloché or the very rare skeletonized 43032 are surely some of the most interesting.
This example is sports a full case, untouched dial, and and full set. It comes from a well-regarded Belgian retailer. What else is there to say?
Find this 43031 here from Mr Watchley for 47850 EUR.