Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921 : A Roaring Twenties icon

THM Desk
7 Apr 2023 |
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You know those watches that command attention from afar? The ones that simply refuse to be overlooked. A roaring icon of the 20’s ,the Historiques American 1921 is just that! More than just a timepiece, it embodies the essence of Vacheron Constantin's ingenuity. First introduced a century ago, the American 1921 model stands as a remarkable testament to the Manufacture's avant-garde ethos, now revitalized through three new variations tailored for vintage watch enthusiasts and discerning collectors. With its distinctive cushion-shaped case, diagonal display, and crown positioned between 1 and 2 o'clock, it presents a visual allure that captivates with its unconventional design and enduring appeal.


This year to mark the 100th anniversary of this icon, Vacheron Constantin introduced three new versions of the American 1921 - two models in 18K white gold and a 100-piece limited edition from the Collection Excellence Platine, powered by the in-house manual-winding movement, Calibre 4400 AS.

A Brief History
The lineage of the Historique 1920 can be traced as far back as 1919 when Vacheron Constantin delved into various case shapes, often in limited series. Hence was introduced a wristwatch with a distinct genre - a design language influenced by the cushion shape. While only a handful of pieces were crafted in 1919, two years later, Vacheron Constantin produced another limited series tailored for the American market, thus earning the moniker "American 1921," a designation that continues to shape the design of the present-day Historiques model.

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Unexpectedly offset
Angled at a 45-degree counter-clockwise rotation, the movement facilitates a diagonal time display, complemented by the crown positioned between 1 and 2 o'clock in the upper right-hand corner of the case. The perfect gentleman driver's watch, the initial versions produced were notably appreciated by driving enthusiasts who could thus read the time at a glance without having to take their hands from the steering wheel. A look through the archives reveals that two such watches belonged to American writer and clergyman Samuel Parkes-Cadman. Renowned for his fight for racial equality and the struggle against anti-Semitism, the man was a pioneer at heart. He is notably known to have been one of the first to use radio to broadcast his sermons to several million listeners; and is thought to have opted for this watch because it allowed him to read the time easily and discreetly while preaching. One of the two timepieces he owned is now part of Vacheron Constantin's heritage collection. This extremely rare model served as direct inspiration for the three new timepieces presented in 2021.


Historiques American 1921 – white gold 40 mm
The chic retro look of this watch in white gold for the vintage-loving dandy adorns the wrist with its generous 40 mm proportions framing a finely grained silver-toned dial. The minimalist dial showcases Arabic numerals and a black-painted minutes track, accentuated by slim 18K gold Breguet-style hands for the hours and minutes, accompanied by a baton-style hand for the seconds counter, all in black. This unique aesthetic is paired with a brown calf leather strap meticulously crafted in the Milanese ateliers of Serapian, the renowned Italian leather goods maison established in 1928.

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Historiques American 1921 – white gold 36.5 mm
Ideal for the vintage enthusiast with a penchant for refinement, this timepiece boasts a chic retro allure accentuated by its sleek 36.5mm dimensions and finely grained silver-toned dial. The minimalist dial showcases Arabic numerals and a snailed small seconds counter, complemented by slender black 18K gold open-tipped hours and minutes hands. Embracing its retro charm reminiscent of the original design, the dial is accentuated by a minutes track along its circumference. Driving the hours, minutes, and small seconds functions is the manual-winding Vacheron Constantin Calibre 4400 AS. Positioned off its traditional axis and accompanied by a crown at 1:30, this in-house movement boasts a comfortable 65-hour power reserve. Its intricate hand-crafted decorations, visible through the transparent caseback, reflect the meticulous artistry of Haute Horlogerie timepieces like the new American 1921. Completing its allure are two patinated calf leather straps in dark brown or burgundy, crafted yet again by Serapian.


Historiques American 1921 Collection Excellence Platine
And of course there is a platinum version. The well-proportioned 40 mm case in 950 platinum frames a 950 platinum dial with a sandblasted finish, punctuated by applied 18K white gold hour-markers and a minutes track reminiscent of traditional watch designs. Sandblasting the dial is a particularly sophisticated operation on an inalterable material such as platinum. The crown and buckle also feature the unique brilliance of this rare metal, while the platinum and silk thread stitching on the dark blue alligator strap constitutes a final refined detail.


Beneath the surface, the artistry of watchmaking takes center stage with the manual-winding Vacheron Constantin Calibre 4400 AS. This exceptional movement not only powers the hour, minute, and small seconds functions but also boasts a generous 65-hour power reserve for added convenience. Through the transparent sapphire caseback, the intricate craftsmanship of this movement is unveiled, showcasing meticulously hand-finished details that epitomize the hallmark of haute horlogerie timepieces.

Originally crafted in limited quantities for the American market from 1919 to 1921, these new iterations of the Historique 1921 are captivating a new and younger audience for Vacheron Constantin, turning heads with its innovative twist.