Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 and the “1930” – Elective Affinities29 September 2021
Once upon a time, a century ago, there was a decade of euphoria and vitality, of creativity and enthusiasm, of novelty and optimism for the future. The 1920s had left the horror of WWI behind and turned their gazes to tomorrow with optimism and frenzy. Defined – not by chance – the Roaring Years, they were a period marked by innovation and positivity, and the objects produced then were destined to become the symbols of an era. Like Vacheron Constantin’s American 1921.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN SHIFTS THE PERSPECTIVE
The watch was created for the first gentlemen drivers, who needed to read the time without taking their hands off the wheel, considering that, in the 1920s, driving a car was not as easy as it is today. In the early 1920s, Vacheron Constantin created a little series of American 1921 (only 24 pieces) for the US market, featuring what the Maison calls “a scenographic approach to the path of time.”
Vacheron Constantin’s master watchmakers did not stop at the initial idea of slanting the dial 45 degrees counterclockwise, to allow the diagonal reading of the time with a slight inclination of the wrist. Alongside the dial, the caliber was also slanted, with the winding crown ending in the upper left corner, at 12 o’clock.
An inventive solution, which put the crown in a perfect position for left-handers but less comfortable for right-handers. For this reason, Vacheron Constantin later created another little series with the crown in the right corner and a clockwise offset dial (while the caliber was slanted counterclockwise).
HISTORIQUE AMERICAN 1921 IN ITS NATURAL ENVIROMENT
This collection is more directly related to the Historiques American 1921 collection that Vacheron Constantin created to celebrate the centenary of the watch and that we, at Watch Insanity, present to you set in a perfect location for the spirit of the timepiece: the 1930 cocktail bar in Milan. The restaurant is the most coveted speakeasy in the city, so much so that we only know that it is located near Piazza Cinque Giornate. Somewhere. Nothing else. You can enter by invitation only.
A place that in the wooden furnishings, in the muffled atmospheres, in the soft lights really recalls a speakeasy of the early twentieth century, a semi-clandestine place where people illegally drank alcoholic beverages, particularly widespread in the United States during the so-called “Prohibition” period over the twenties and in the early thirties. Here, however, nothing illegal, just a lot of exclusiveness. To experience evenings suspended in time, between nostalgia, passion and emotion.
“The 1930 bar was born from the idea of creating a living room, a speakeasy set in the 1920s,” says Marco Russo, 36, one of the founders. “Over the years we have entered the ranking of the World’s 50 Best Bars, where we currently are at the 25th place.” Bartender for passion, for fun and then for a living, Russo explains us that “1930 has a mixology of its own, based on its own philosophy; in this period with our cocktails we are in South America, because we have chosen to explore the continents, starting from Asia, to North America and now South America. We will then move to Africa to finally come back to Europe. A world tour based on a product research, its history, its processing.”
A WONDERFUL CENTENARIAN
The perfect place and atmosphere to combine with the Historiques American 1921, that Vacheron Constantin features in three watches inspired in a philological way by the pieces made a century ago. In the version with a 40 mm white gold case, the retro-chic look frames a grained dial; it features Arabic numerals and a black painted minute track, as well as thin gold Breguet-type hands and a baton hand on the seconds counter. Not even the calfskin strap is left to chance: it is by Serapian, a Milanese leather goods company founded in 1928, in the American 1921 years.
For smaller wrists, a version with a 36.5 mm case is available, also in white gold, while the 40 mm is also offerend in the version with a platinum case. Available in a limited edition of 100 numbered pieces from the Collection Excellence Platine line, it is characterized by a platinum dial with a sandblasted finish, punctuated by applied indexes in white gold and a minute track that recalls the design of traditional watches. The strap of the platinum version is interesting: it is in blue alligator, with platinum and silk stitching.
ANCIENT LOOKS AND MODERN HEART
In all these different versions beats the hand-wound Vacheron Constantin 4400 AS in-house caliber, certified by the Hallmark of Geneva and off-center to the vertical axis. Developed in 2008, the movement marks hours, minutes and small seconds at 28,800 vibrations/hour, and has a power reserve of approximately 65 hours.
The caliber, visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, is embellished with handmade finishes by the Maison’s artisans – among which the Côtes-de-Genève processing stands out, accordingly with the Haute Horlogerie tradition that characterizes the brand.
A COCKTAIL FOR THE HISTORIQUES AMERICAN 1921
A watch for connoisseurs, and for connoisseurs is Milan’s 1930 as well. “Although our clients are enthusiasts, they are guided through a sensory journey,” Russo tells us again. “They rely on us, who try to understand their tastes in order to offer them the right mix. It is an exchange of emotions.”
Emotions that led Marco Russo to create a cocktail for Vacheron Constantin’s Historiques American 1921: “It was conceived inspired by the Boulevardier, a cocktail born in 1927, therefore very close to the period when the watch born. We reworked the Boulevardier through a Swiss concept: apple Bourbon, Fusetti bitters, a cinnamon Vermouth and a scent of mugwort. It is a cool drink, a one-shot because it takes us to Switzerland while today, as mentioned, we are in South America and then we will get to Africa. We will be able to talk about a possible inclusion in the drink list in about a year and a half.”
This cocktail could become a classic, just as the watch that inspired it. With the expression “Classic with a Twist” that identifies this year’s collections, Vacheron Constantin has put its vocation on paper: classicism, yes, but always with a flutter of wings. This is why the Historiques American 1921 flies very high. The version with a 40 mm case in white gold costs € 37,000, the 36.5 mm version € 30,500, and the platinum version (sold only on the brand’s website and in flagship boutiques) € 51,500.
By Davide Passoni