Vacheron Constantin’s power play
The ingenious Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar by Vacheron Constantin doubles down with two power modes
Of all mechanical watch “complications” — any feature outside the display of hours, minutes and seconds — the most impressive is the perpetual calendar. This “grand complication” will track day, date, month, year and adjust for leap years. As technically brilliant as that is, it presents the wearer with a basic drawback. Forget to wind it and you’re going to need a watchmaker to reset the thing. For this reason, hand-wound watches are often talked up in terms of their power reserves — that is, how long it takes for the mainspring (or metal coil) that powers the watch to unwind before it ticks to a halt. The bigger the power reserve, the less winding required.
Vacheron Constantin has been making beautiful, intricate and complicated watches, including dozens of perpetual calendars, since 1755. In 2019, it has come up with a complication so grand it changes the way we think about how watches work. The Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar comes with two power reserves. Four days while being worn, or 65 days in standby mode, meaning it can be stored away for two months without losing functionality. If you’re the sort of man who refers to mechanical objects as living things — and you would not be alone — then it effectively has two heartbeats: one active, one resting.
To achieve this, it requires two oscillators working to different frequencies and 480 components. Such high complexity is matched by high design: with its two-part, hand-guilloche, transparent sapphire dial, 18k gold markers and platinum case. At £195,000 it is perhaps not a watch for everyday use, but one you can at least rely on when you have to.