Monday, April 7, 2008

SIHH 2008 Preview: Vacheron Constantin Quai de l’Ile Collection Concept

Vacheron Constantin introduces Quai de l’Ile

Personalization, service, security, innovation: Spotlight on tomorrow’s watchmaking

The new Quai de l’Ile line from the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture introduces a unique dimension in the world of Haute Horlogerie. Personalized to meet the client’s wishes, this resolutely contemporary watch combines the most advanced technologies with the finest horological savoir-faire. Innovative, original, contemporary and sophisticated, the Quai de l’Ile line meets the demands of tomorrow’s Haute Horlogerie: personalization, security, service, excellent workmanship and savoir-faire.

With its new Quai de l’Ile line – named after the brand’s historic Geneva address – the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture reveals its pioneering character while drawing on over two and a half centuries of experience.

The case is revolutionary, the dial incorporates a whole range of security-printing technologies, the two self-winding mechanical movements – stamped with the Geneva Hallmark – have been designed and developed at Vacheron Constantin, and the product’s accessories – box, passport, USB key and multimedia elements – break new ground in the world of watchmaking.

Characterized by both technology and tradition, this combination of elements constitutes the unique genetic heritage of Vacheron Constantin’s new Quai de l’Ile line, an innovative and resolutely contemporary line that embodies the notions of service and the special relationship with the customer.

Personalization, the ultimate luxury

Personalization is the ultimate expression of luxury. It is also the elemental link in the relationship between a customer and brand, between expectations and service. It is to strengthen this link and to offer a unique experience to its clientèle that Vacheron Constantin has developed a concept of personalization that is totally new in Haute Horlogerie, a world first in fact. Thanks to the Quai de l’Ile case and its remarkable seven-piece middle, the customer can choose from three metals, two dials & two different finishes on the movements to realize the watch of his dreams. While the cushion shaped case allows for an infinite number of combinations, Vacheron Constantin is offering almost 400 for this year’s launching.

Quai de l’Ile: a name, a history, a symbol

The Quai de l’Ile has been Vacheron Constantin’s historical address in Geneva since the 19th century, ever since Jean-François Constantin (1829-1900) had a building constructed there in 1873-1874. A visionary, he already felt the need to give the manufactory a place which would help it stand out in the world of Geneva’s Haute Horlogerie and give it a more international dimension. This address soon became the symbol of an incomparable quality of service with the creation of personalized Haute Horlogerie timepieces that reflected the brand’s motto, “Do better if possible, which is always possible”.

Dynamic character

Designed in the dynamic of a sophisticated and contemporary line, the instantly identifiable Quai de l’Ile case expresses the tradition behind Vacheron Constantin’s 250+ years of history as well as the line’s resolutely innovative character. The case is cushion-shaped in the spirit of several historical models and its modernity is underscored by its dynamic character, fluid lines and original shapes, all of which give it a subtle balance.

Avant-garde technologies

The Quai de l’Ile’s complex mechanism can be seen through the line’s semi-transparent dials, which are an innovative blend of the world of watchmaking and sophisticated, top-secret technologies of security printing. Art and cutting-edge technology, extreme precision and aesthetic creativity come together in these exclusive and secure dials, which have four patents pending.

The Manufacture’s signature

The new Quai de l’Ile line will be launched with two models: the Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding and the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding. Both movements are stamped with the prestigious Geneva Hallmark. Designed, developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin, these state-of-the-art movements are coated with rhodium or ruthenium and visible through the dial. As well as indicating the hours, minutes and central seconds, the 2460QH calibre displays the date by means of
a disc, while the 2475SC/1 calibre displays the date, day of the week and power reserve with hands.

Pair of straps

Each Quai de l’Ile model is delivered with two straps: one in black or dark-brown hand-stitched, saddle-finish, large square-scaled alligator leather; the other in dark-brown or black vulcanized rubber, with a refined and elegant design. Both types of strap come with a new triple-folding, double-safety clasp with a half-Maltese-cross flap. Specially designed for the Quai de l’Ile line, this clasp matches
the heart of the case and has a polished (palladium or pink gold) or satined(titanium) finish.

Secure environment

Vacheron Constantin was determined to push to the limits the concept of security that is the hallmark of the Quai de l’Ile line. The innovative product environment is an integral and extended part of the security and inviolability that characterize the dials. A Vacheron Constantin passport offering similar standards of protection and quality as a Swiss passport will accompany every watch in the line for its
lifetime. An innovative box, a USB key and a multimedia tool - all very original elements for a Haute Horlogerie watch - have been designed to correspond in every way to the watch’s contemporary character.

Pushing back the limits

With its sophisticated and contemporary character, the new Quai de l’Ile line (identified by its cushion shape) will develop alongside Vacheron Constantin’s two main pillars, the Malte (tonneau) and the Patrimony (round). It will be distinguished by its sophisticated technologies and its distinctive concept of personalization. The launching of the Quai de l’Ile line represents a milestone in Vacheron Constantin’s history, with the concept of personalization pushing back even further the limits of
exclusiveness that the Geneva-based manufacture has made its own.

Quai de l’Ile - The ultimate luxury of personalization

With its novel concept of personalization, the Quai de l’Ile line has given Haute Horlogerie a new dimension.

Sophisticated, bold and resolutely innovative, this contemporary line has achieved the feat of marrying the most sophisticated technologies to over 250 years of horological savoir-faire. As a result, Vacheron Constantin is determining the shape of tomorrow’s watchmaking.

Transparency and architecture

A watch from the new Quai de l’Ile line makes an immediate impact. Its semi-transparent dial is fascinating, its suspended displays astonishing, its distinguished, modern case appealing and its combination of materials intriguing. The case has been designed and developed in a resolutely avantgarde and architectural dynamic and lies at the heart of the personalization process. With a dial embodying the very latest security-printing technologies and a cushion-shaped case, the designers opted for a theme of transparency and avant-garde design. The technology invested in the case, as well as the vigour and power that emanate from it, will satisfy the most demanding enthusiasts of technical prowess, luxury and exclusiveness.

Almost 400 combinations

The personalization concept at the heart of the Quai de l’Ile line is unique in the world of Haute Horlogerie, a line that is midway between models from the Collection – entirely designed and made in the Manufacture – and the 100% made-to-measure watches from the Atelier Cabinotiers Special Order department. Personalization is based on four elements: the seven-piece case and middle, the dial with the latest security-printing technologies, the movement finishing, and the strap. In total, there are almost 400 combinations from which to create an exceptional timepiece that mirrors the wearer’s personality.

The Quai de l’Ile line will be launched with two models in 2008: the Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding (calibre 2460QH) and the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding (calibre2475SC/1). In the first instance, only the latter will be available in a personalized version in 100 exclusive sales points (Vacheron Constantin boutiques and retailers carefully selected for their quality of service).

First, the personalized watch is envisaged and designed by the future buyer with the aid of an interactive tactile screen developed by Vacheron Constantin and a set of material and color samples. It then enters its production cycle in Geneva and will be delivered within a few weeks, as agreed on beforehand with the client.

Avant-garde design

There is no need to explain to connoisseurs that the Quai de l’Ile cushion case is an avant-garde reinterpretation of a classic watch shape. Like legendary cars that are constantly redesigned to anticipate changes in style, the Quai de l’Ile case is the expression of an avant-garde watch conception, but one which is perfectly faithful to Vacheron Constantin’s stylistic spirit. In their search for fluidity, visually perfect curves, an assertive character and dynamism, the engineers and designers at Vacheron
Constantin explored the limits of these areas and created the case that today symbolizes Vacheron

Constantin’s concept of personalization - Quai de l’Ile

At the heart of personalization: the case

The innovative personalization of the Quai de l’Ile line is made possible by the unique 7-part construction of the case and middle.

Along with the other components of the watch – movement, dial and strap – this extraordinary construction means that Vacheron Constantin can offer almost 400 different combinations for the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding model.

While the middle – one of the components of a case – is normally a single element, Vacheron Constantin’s personalization concept is based on an assembled 7-part case comprising the following elements:

- Lateral flank at 3 o’clock
- Lateral flank at 9 o’clock
- Lugs at 12 o’clock
- Lugs at 6 o’clock
- Inter-lug piece at 12 o’clock
- Inter-lug piece at 6 o’clock
- Support plate

In addition to these 7 parts, the 41 mm case middle includes:

- Titanium inner case for all models
- Bezel
- Back
- Crown

Three groups of components

In its concern to preserve the aesthetic harmony of the whole and not wanting to make an impact with tens of thousands of combinations, though this would be technically possible, the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture opted for a carefully planned personalization system. For this reason, it has defined three groups of components:

- Heart of the case (lugs + inter-lug pieces + back)
- Bezel
- Lateral flanks and support plate

The crown can also be personalized, but it has to be made of the material chosen for one of the other three groups.

A choice of three metals in any combination

The Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding can be personalized with a choice of three metals - 5N pink gold, titanium and palladium - for each of the three groups of components, and in any combination. This is the first time Vacheron Constantin has ever used titanium and palladium in one of its standard collections.

Pink gold (Au).

Titanium (Ti).

Palladium (Pd).

Besides the Quai de l’Ile watches that can be personalized in almost 400 combinations, Vacheron Constantin decided to offer a standard Quai de l’Ile line, comprising two models for its launching this year:

- Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding (calibre 2460QH)
- Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding (calibre 2475 SC/1)

Both models will be available in three different versions:

- Middle, back, bezel and crown in palladium – grey dial – rhodium-plated movement
- Middle, back, bezel and crown in pink gold – light dial – rhodium-plated movement
- Middle, back, bezel and crown in titanium – dark dial – ruthenium movement

Quai de l’Ile - At the heart of innovation: the dial

The dials of the Quai de l’Ile line are to watchmaking what the latest security printing techniques for bank notes are to the Gutenberg press. Light years apart!

These semi-transparent dials, which have four patents pending, are safeguards against
counterfeiting, integrating secret texts, micro-printing, security inks and UV markings using invisible ink. While incorporating the very latest advances in technology, they also present a magical visual effect.

For the first time, an Haute Horlogerie brand has joined forces with the world of security printing, that of bank notes and other documents that cannot be forged. Some of the most secret technologies have been used to produce the safest dials ever made, dials with truly innovative graphics that are absolutely faithful to the Vacheron Constantin spirit.

At the crossroads of art and the most sophisticated printing techniques, the spectacular dials of the Quai de l’Ile line are both eye-catching and intriguing.

With strange depths, striking contours, subtle interplays of transparency and opaqueness, alternating visible and invisible elements, precision markings and micro-printing, there is nothing remotely similar with the dial of an ordinary watch.

With the Quai de l’Ile watch, Vacheron Constantin is taking Haute Horlogerie into a new dimension.

Protection against counterfeiting

Orell Füssli Security Printing Ltd, printers of bank notes and Swiss passports, accepted for the first time to put its highly specialized savior-faire at the service of the watch industry. To give a more artistic dimension to this very technical process, Vacheron Constantin called on the services of Mr Roger Pfund, an internationally renowned Swiss designer who, among other things, has produced the graphics for many bank notes, both Swiss and foreign. He has designed the present
Swiss passport.

The Quai de l’Ile dials are remarkable for their technical features as well as their spectacular decorations, which in no way hinder the perfect legibility of the information they display. Other indications and markings are invisible in normal conditions, making these dials the most secure on the market.

This ultra-sophisticated dial, therefore, gives the Quai de l’Ile models complete protection against the scourge of counterfeiting.

Futuristic processes on sapphire

Technically, the Quai de l’Ile dials comprise two main elements:

- A sapphire crystal
- A security polymer

The sapphire crystal is an amalgam of cutting-edge techniques and refined processes, in particular those of:

- Laser engraving (with or without inking)
- Galvanic growth of metal, gold-plated
- Metallization

A sun alludes to the history of Vacheron Constantin

The dials on both models in the new line are illuminated by the sun, also produced by the metallization process. It is inspired by the clock on the Tour de l’Ile in Place Bel-Air, in the Saint-Gervais district of Geneva. At one time, all the watchmakers on the square set their watches and clocks by it.

An allusion to Vacheron Constantin’s past as well as a key security feature of the dial, the invisible ink disc affixed to the back of the security polymer (at the centre of the sun) can only be seen with a UV lamp.

This distinctive sign is also on the passport which comes with each watch.

The three secrets of the security transparent film

Stuck under the sapphire crystal, the security transparent film – the same one used for printing on bank notes – is made from a special chemical compound.

This security transparent film guarantees complete protection against counterfeiting, once it has been subjected to various products and extremely precise operations, like:

- The printing of micro-characters
- The use of security inks
- UV markings using invisible ink

On the movement side, the security transparent film has a pattern of hundreds of Maltese crosses and concentric circles. Depending on the version, it is printed with white or black ink.

On the dial side, the security transparent film has a pattern of concentric lines representing the spiral of time. These also serve as a seconds track. These lines – or rays – are printed alternately with light-grey and sepia ink or with light-grey and white ink.

A choice of two dials (dark or light) for 3 different effects

Three dial finishes are offered on all Quai de l’Ile versions:

- Grey – dark dial with a rhodium-plated movement
- White – light dial with a rhodium-plated movement
- Black – dark dial with a ruthenium movement

2475 SC/1 caliber (Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding)
2460 QH caliber (Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding)

Although the Quai de l’Ile line is the expression of a very contemporary language, the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture never forgets the legitimacy it has earned in the watch industry from over 250 years of uninterrupted activity.

Accumulated experience and patiently acquired savoir-faire nourish the day-to-day thinking that goes into developing new mechanisms. Designed, developed and produced in-house, the 2475SC/1 and 2460QH calibres, which will power the first models of the Quai de l’Ile line, have grown out of this dynamic.

An exceptional timepiece needs an exceptional movement.

Respecting this principle, as it has for over 250 years, the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture decided to equip the first models in its new Quai de l’Ile line with two of the very latest generation of self winding movements, developed and produced by the Manufacture and stamped with the famous Geneva Hallmark, the distinctive and prestigious sign of Haute Horlogerie.

Besides bearing the Geneva Hallmark, both movements are meticulously finished, in the Haute Horlogerie tradition: this includes Côtes de Genève decorations (circular on the dial side, straight on the movement side), chamfered, rhodium-plated bridges, and circular-grained plates.

Choice of finishing with both movements:
- Rhodium (light)
- Ruthenium (dark)

For the 2460QH calibre (Quai de l’Ile Date Self-winding): Hours, minutes and central seconds, with an additional plate for the date disc. This date function has a novel feature: it is the disc that moves, not the numbers. The visual effect is of a date that “moves” every day to a different place on the dial.

For the 2475SC/1 calibre (Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding): Hours, minutes and central seconds, with an additional plate displaying the power reserve, date, and day of the week with hands.

These exemplary finishings have a special three-dimensional effect thanks to the unique interplay of transparencies created by the line’s sapphire crystal and by the view it provides into the heart of the mechanical movement.

To provide optimal legibility of the dial’s hour-circle, the two movements have a snailed exterior ring, rhodium - or ruthenium-finished depending on the version.

Finally, a new rotor has been developed – its design inspired by the back of the case - to reflect the spirit of the line. Made in ruthenium-finished 22K gold, it is distinguished by its pure lines, which are enhanced by five embossed fillets.

Quai de l’Ile - Meticulously planned environment

Everything for the Quai de l’Ile line has been meticulously planned. And coherence has been the watchword throughout the whole creative process, from designing the mechanical movements to making the presentation box.

The elements comprising the product environment have been subject to the same innovation, personalization and security criteria as those applied to the creative process of the timepiece itself.

The introduction of the Quai de l’Ile line has been an opportunity for Vacheron Constantin to totally re-think its approach to the product environment and to develop its role as a “citizen’s brand” by constructing solid bridges between the watch, its strong character and the set of elements designed to accompany it throughout its life. It has achieved this by not hesitating, when it is justified, to modernise the traditional characteristics of Haute Horlogerie. In so doing, Vacheron Constantin has
once again showed itself to be an innovator.

The new box has a resolutely contemporary and refined design: an unusual vertical shape, an integrated “display-case” window for admiring the watch at all times, even when it is closed, and a more compact size than a standard box of similar quality.

It has been designed to contain all the accessories that come with the new Quai de l’Ile watch. It holds a small travel pouch, lighter and more practical, that can also hold the watch and its accessories. Its size has been optimized to take up as little room as possible and to ensure that the owner can feel perfectly confident about safely carrying the watch in it.

As well as the watch, the pouch will hold all the Quai de l’Ile line accessories:

- A real passport: unique and dedicated to the watch,
- A USB key: with instructions for use, maintenance tips, technical information, a presentation of the manufacture, its history and its savoir-faire, photos, animated sequences, etc. The instructions for use are only printed in French and English to save on paper,
- Tools: a magnifying glass, a corrector pencil for the Quai de l’Ile Day-Date and Power-Reserve Self-winding model, and a microfiber cloth,
- Second strap in alligator leather or rubber.

Info via Vacheron Constantine press file

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