This humble calatrava is arguably thee quintessential Vacheron dress watch, which is to say the archetypal watch from the archetypal, storied 1755 marque. Mid-century modern designs don’t come minimal or romantic. While unadorned dress watches have recently been seen as less-desirable (as opposed to complication or sporting credentials), their restraint and lack of pretense is a breath of fresh air in a market of madness. Perhaps no mid-century three-hander is more worthy of a second look, if only purely for its immense value, than the 4217.
First, I would like to make a slight digression only to note that Oxford English dictionary evolves yearly; while Calatrava is certainly a Patek trademark where watches are concerned, I do feel lowercase calatrava is the modern parlance for dress three-handers. And this one even mirrors the Stern-owned case proportion. The 4217 is watch you will not find every day. The restrained dial and 34mm white gold case are an exercise in simplicity. It was powered by a JLC-derived 454/5B with center-seconds, 18 jewels, and a ridiculous 5 adjustments stamped with hot/cold isochronism and the Geneva Seal (twice). This is a cut above standard 1950s chronometer certification, from an era where Vacheron’s finishing was aimed toward precision and accuracy rather than show. In the 4217, white gold is substantially rarer than steel, making this calatrava about as desirable as they come. I can think of no more discreet or smart dress watch save for the Patek 570 (a peer in era).
This example is stellar in all respects. The dial is clear of any damage or fault of any sort, signed just Swiss at 6. The white gold case is almost certainly unpolished, with sharp lugs and case-side brushing still extremely clear. It is running well, and impressively sold with a rarely seen full set. It comes from a well-regarded private collector.
Find this 4217 available here from @pleasegivemecashmere by DM on Instagram for 16000 GBP.