The Replica Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is one of those quiet but excellent models that has long lived within the collection of Geneva’s oldest manufacture. The watch, which features a manually wound two register chronograph with perpetual calendar, is undoubtedly one of the most attractive and beautiful combinations of complications in the world – or, at least it is to me. While this watch appears similar to the existing references, this new model Reference 5000T-00P, features a new dial color and the latest version of the fantastic caliber 1142 QP, which is a subtly tweaked version of the previous 1141QP that has powered this model since inception. What does that mean? It means you can still buy a Lemania-powered perpetual calendar chronograph new – and that is a wonderful thing.
The Vacheron Constantin Traditionelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is one of those quiet but excellent models that has long lived within the collection of Geneva’s oldest manufacture. The watch, which features a manually wound two register chronograph with perpetual calendar, is undoubtedly one of the most attractive and beautiful combinations of complications in the world – or, at least it is to me. While this watch appears similar to the existing references, this new model Reference 5000T-00P, features a new dial color and the latest version of the fantastic caliber 1142 QP, which is a subtly tweaked version of the previous 1141QP that has powered this model since inception. What does that mean? It means you can still buy a Lemania-powered perpetual calendar chronograph new – and that is a wonderful thing.
So what is the 1142QP? Well first let’s discuss the easy part – it’s a manually wound perpetual calendar that displays everything you’d see in a traditional QP, and you can see the leap year indicator clearly between the 1 and 2 o’clock positions (now with a dark background instead of white – something that irked a few on the previous generation of this watch). The perpetual mechanism is surely all Vacheron Constantin, and it’s fantastic. Hell, our friend Paul Boutros once called a variation of this perpetual the very best perpetual calendar on the market.
Now the tricky part. Or, maybe the exciting part, depending on personal proclivities in the realm of manually wound chronographs. The base caliber here, on which Vacheron has put its perpetual mechanism, is the latest iteration of the well known Lemania 27-70. This is, of course, the legendary manually wound chronogrpah on which Omega’s lunar-bound 321 was based, in addition to the calibers found in Patek Philippe’s 3970, 5020, 5004, and yes, 5970. It’s also the same base that you’ll find in the lovely Cornes de Vaches from VC itself. But noted by Vacheron publicity this new 5000T reference features the caliber 1142 (not 1141) which means its ever so slightly thinner and now beats at 3 hertz instead of 2.5 hertz. That is a good thing, or so we’re told, but the truth of the matter is the change in the caliber came from Breguet (now owner of all Lemania IP) and for some time, Swatch was selling the 2.5Hz version of the caliber to outside parties while they would use the 3Hz version in Breguet products. Ultimately, we’re told via a friend of the Swatch group, that it was simply too costly to continue to produce two version of the same caliber so they began selling the 3Hz version of the Breguet 2320/533.1 (née Lemania 27-10) to outside parties, most notably Vacheron Constantin.
Should it bother you that this top of the shelf complicated Vacheron isn’t using an in-house base caliber? Quite the contrary. In particular, I can’t tell you how many friends, readers, and Instagrammers have lamented the absence of Lemania calibers in that other Geneva manufacture’s products, and have been downright nasty to the successor of those watches in the Patek Philippe 5270 (reviewed in detail here). In many ways this Vacheron is closer to the universally praised 5970 than Patek’s own current perpetual calendar chronograph – and keep in mind this new 1142QP is an upgraded, higher frequency version of the caliber found in the 5970. It is lower frequency than the 5270, but has a larger diameter balance wheel – which many prefer. It should be noted that the 5270 is 41mm in diameter with 456 parts, while the VC is larger at 43mm, but with fewer components (324). This can be interpreted many ways and depending on what you value in watchmaking – case diameter, movement diameter, or efficiency – one could argue that Patek accomplished the same thing as Vacheron in a smaller diameter, or that Vacheron accomplished the same as Patek with over 100 few parts, with equal validity. Though, if you want to take it a step further and compare calibers, Vacheron’s Lemania based movement is 27.5mm in diameter and 7.6mm thick – the Patek is wider at 32mm but thinner at 7mm. It should be noted the 5970’s caliber was the exact same diameter as this VC and a shade thicker. This new take on the 1142QP is also Geneva Seal certified, which may or may not count in favor of the VC depending on your take on the Geneva Seal.
As for the design particulars of this new platinum VC? We see a stunning slate grey dial, with accents in a grey a few shades darker, including the railway style minute track. The moonphase is impressive – it’s 22k white gold completely hand engraved to show either a smiling moon, or a melancholy moon – a nod to historical Vacheron pocket watches which featured the same idea. The platinum case is stepped, with a fluted caseback and dauphine hands. Naturally, there is a transparent back, to see the 1142QP.
This new Vacheron reference 5000T will retail for $150,000 – roughly $30,000 less than Patek’s similarly styled watch in white gold. It is a handsome and superlatively crafted true alternative to arguably the most historic line of watches in collectible horology. You can find out more about the Vacheron Traditionelle Perpetual Calendar Chronograph reference 5000T here.
Something To Consider: While many have sincere appreciation for half-century old Lemania movements, one has to wonder why, after five years of development, Vacheron Constantin chose not to use their own new, in-house mono-pusher chronograph found in the Harmony for this perpetual chroograph? It’s a larger, more advanced chronograph caliber that would seemingly work well in a 43mm case. We understand why VC chose the old Lemania movements for the Cornes de Vaches, it fits the style of the watch and case size, but we have to wonder if this is the very last iteration of the Traditionelle perpetual chronograph to use this caliber. Or if there is something inherently difficult about fitting a perpetual mechanism to the new mono-pusher chronograph. Only time will tell.