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Perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, chronographs and tourbillons can all be be very impressive on a watch, not least when they’re all jammed in together. But there’s something particularly pleasing about a dial that says a lot, but does it rather quietly.
Enter – with barely any noise — the latest version of Vacheron Constantin’s Traditionnelle “complete calendar”, a watch on which you’ll be able to read the time at a glance (always a bonus) without multiple sub-dials getting in the way.
But on those odd occasions when you need reminding of the date, a slightly more prolonged glance will reveal that too – likewise the day (if office life is dragging a bit) and the month (for when you really don’t know what’s going on). And if you’re a stickler for detail, it will even show you the age and phase of the moon.
In the 1957 James Bond novel From Russia With Love, Ian Fleming wrote of SMERSH executioner Donovan Grant’s “bulky gold wristwatch” as being “on a well-used brown crocodile strap. It was a… model designed for people who like gadgets and it had a sweep second-hand and two little windows in the face to tell the day of the month, and the month, and the phase of the moon… The story it now told was 2:30 on June 10 with the moon three-quarters full.”
Grant’s “triple calendar” watch was a Girard-Perregaux – but, while what Vacheron prefers to call a “complete calendar” can tell just the same story and provide the days of the month in both words and numerals, it does it all without being in the least bit bulky. Much of the trick lies in the inclusion of that fourth central hand, which slowly travels around the circumference of the dial in single daily increments, its delicate crescent tip cupping each numerical day of the month along the way.