It’s been 12 months since Vacheron Constantin took over Watches and Wonders 2022 with the return of its brilliant 222. For 2023, the brand focuses on a theme that it has excelled at in the past — retrograde watches. Timepieces in this category are often an acquired taste as they forgo the usual watch layouts we have come to know today. But the retrograde-style watch is a traditional one with a certain magical quality to it. Vacheron Constantin has released three retrograde models from three collections to emphasize this. Let’s find out more.

It’s easy to say that Vacheron Constantin has expertise in creating retrograde watches. Because of its rich history and tradition, the Plan-les-Ouates brand has created almost every single complication in the book. But when it comes to retrograde watches, VC has a history that dates back to the early 20th century. Famous examples of pocket watches with retrograde displays are the brand’s 1930 “Bras en l’Air”(Arms in the Air) pocket watch with its double-retrograde display and the Reference 3620 (also known as the Don Pancho) from 1940. Those are probably the two most famous models from the brand’s past that feature retrograde displays. In more recent times, we have seen the retrograde date display mostly used within the Patrimony line. With the introduction of three new models with this unique display technique, Vacheron celebrates retrograde watches in style.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

The Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

The first of three new models is the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date. This unique take on the brand’s Overseas sports model looks different but somehow super familiar. It goes to show that the integration of a retrograde display does not necessarily mean completely new aesthetics. The new Overseas model features the familiar 41mm Overseas case executed in stainless steel. The case, with its characteristic bezel, makes this unmistakably an Overseas.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

The Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date features a beautiful dial with translucent blue lacquer, a sunburst satin-brushed base, and a velvet-finished flange. What I greatly appreciate about Vacheron Constantin in recent times is the brand’s ability to pick the right color shades every time. The brand’s dials are always spot on in this sense, in addition to being meticulously created and finished. A great example is the discontinued Overseas 4500V with its stunning brown dial. When it comes to blue, Vacheron Constantin has the bragging rights of getting it right without fail. The blue dials of the different Overseas models are an absolute joy to see. And with this new dial for the Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date, it is no different.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

The dial design feels familiar despite being different

This new model features a retrograde date display on the upper half of the dial. The retrograde hand is executed in dark blue and features a light blue tip. As the hand travels over the upper half of the dial, it will play with the dial background and appear differently as the month passes. Vacheron integrates a beautiful moonphase display on the lower half to create a great visual balance. The moonphase display allows the wearer to read the number of days that have passed since the last new moon, as the aperture is graduated from 0 to 29 1⁄2. As you might know, the Moon makes one full rotation around Earth in 29 days, 12 hours, and 45 minutes.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

While the dial integrates these two elements that define its functionality, they do not define the watch’s sporty looks. It is still very much an Overseas with its Super-LumiNova-treated white gold markers and hands and the characteristic 60-minute track on the periphery of the dial. When it comes to integrating these two classic functions into a modern sports watch, Vacheron has succeeded in doing so perfectly. The watch is the ultimate combination of graceful and sporty styles.

The in-house Calibre 2460 R31L/2

Vacheron Constantin equipped the new Overseas with its in-house Calibre 2460 R31L/2, which consists of 275 parts. This self-winding movement operates at 28,800vph and provides a 40-hour power reserve. It is also visible through the case back’s sapphire window and features a 22K gold central rotor. As we expect from Vacheron, the finishing of the movement is brilliant, with the compass rose as the “centerpiece” of the visual feast. The crown at 3 o’clock controls the time, date, and moon phase, making it easy to set and use the watch daily.

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date

The new Vacheron Constantin Overseas Moon Phase Retrograde Date will come with a stainless steel bracelet and two additional blue straps in calfskin leather and rubber. The stainless steel bracelet features a triple-blade folding clasp with a push-button release. The price for this new timepiece is on request, and the watch will be for sale exclusively through Vacheron Constantin boutiques.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface

The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface 

The second of three models is the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface. It’s quite a long name for a watch that leaves such an immediate and dramatic impression. The Traditionelle collection, as its name indicates, is usually reserved for the brand’s more traditionally styled pieces. But looking at this new open-worked model, tradition is definitely not the first thing that comes to mind. The watch has a 41mm pink gold case that is 11.07mm thick. Its round shape is emphasized by particularly long lugs, which, in combination with the dial, makes for a contemporary blend of styles.

Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Tourbillon Retrograde Date Openface

I love seeing the open-worked sapphire dial with its guilloché finish in combination with the pink gold case and indexes. It creates a certain Art Deco feel that I adore. The gray parts of the dial also complement the visible parts of the movement, which show a slate gray NAC surface treatment. Once again, the upper half of the dial features the retrograde date display with its blackened hand with a white tip. The lower half features the Maltese Cross tourbillon that integrates very nicely without overpowering the other elements. As you can see, at 3 o’clock, you will find the brand’s logo and the Maltese Cross engraved in the sapphire crystal.

The in-house Calibre 2162 R31 

If you turn the watch around, you get an even better look at the in-house Calibre 2162 R31. This automatic movement consists of 242 components and, as mentioned, features a tourbillon and a retrograde date. The caliber operates at 18,000vph and has a 72-hour power reserve and a decorated gold peripheral rotor. This is an element that you might miss at first glance. It is very slim and doesn’t stand out. The movement is finished impressively in the great Vacheron Constantin tradition, making it a joy to see in action.

The watch comes on a matching gray leather strap with a pink gold folding clasp featuring the famous Maltese Cross. As with the Overseas model, the price of this exquisite timepiece is available on request. 

Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date 

The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date

The Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date is the last of the three retrograde releases. This classically-styled watch features a 42.5mm platinum case with a stunning salmon-colored dial. The dial features a nice sunburst finish, bringing life to the already impressive color. In this piece, the retrograde displays of the day on the lower half and the date on the upper half take center stage.

The watch features white gold hands and white gold applied indices, and the minute track on the convex part of the dial consists of fine diamond-polished 18K white gold pearls. As a result of the refined aesthetic, the blued steel hands stand out and lead you to the two retrograde displays. In matching style, the watch has a blue leather strap and a platinum pin buckle.

The in-house Calibre 2460 R31R7/3 

Inside the platinum case, Vacheron Constantin equipped the watch with its in-house Calibre 2460 R31R7/3. The self-winding movement is visible through the sapphire window on the case back and consists of 276 parts. The caliber operates at 28,800vph, has 40 jewels, and provides a 40-hour power reserve. Just like the movements in the two other pieces, the finishing of this caliber is meticulous. The movement features a gold skeletonized central rotor with the Maltese Cross, and, as you can see above, there is perlage throughout. As with the other two models, the price is available on request, and the watch will be a Vacheron Constantin boutique exclusive.

Final thoughts on the three Vacheron Constantin retrograde models

It’s great to see the celebration of the retrograde display. The Patrimony Retrograde Day-Date is the only of the three new retrograde watches with a design defined by the retrograde complications. It makes the watch stand out as the “most retrograde” of this trio. But what it all comes down to is a matter of personal taste. Do you like the retrograde display to take center stage, or do you like it to have a more subtle appearance?

My favorite of these three is the Overseas, which integrates the retrograde date display perfectly. It is another great addition to the Overseas lineup that was already impressive. These three releases show the great versatility of retrograde watches. On top of that, the Overseas model shows the great adaptability of its sports-watch design.

For more information, visit the official Vacheron Constantin website.