Vacheron Constantin Historique Toledo 1952 ¶
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In the luxury watch market - after years of bigger, bolder and ever more imposing designs - we are witnessing a shift in the market towards more modest pieces. While there is still a strong market for big and sporty, there is a pent-up desire for classic dress watches and complicated pieces. Companies are releasing more and more updates of classic (sometimes even retro) designs in modern proportions – keeping the original spirit but making the watches a bit bigger to suit today’s market.
Vacheron Constantin has always been a traditional luxury manufacture, preferring to make classic haute gamme timepieces rather than bowing to the market fads. They have made sporty designs in recent years, but they are still best known for their elegant dress watches that combine impeccable quality with a timeless understated style. To say they are following the current market desire for classic pieces is a bit of a stretch; rather, they were ahead of the curve just by doing what they usually do. Case in point – the Toledo 1952 annual calendar, which is part of the Historique collection of classically inspired timepieces.
The Toledo has a long history, as the 1952 moniker suggests. The original was nicknamed the Cioccolatone and was available as an automatic three-hand watch and a manually wound triple-date moonphase model. The most striking feature of the Cioccolatone was its unique case shape – it was square, but heavily curved to fit the wrist, and appears to be layered with soft curves, with no right angles or straight lines to be found anywhere. The new Toledo replicates the original case to a tee, even having the same dimensions – a reasonably size 36 by 43mm with wide strap lugs. In 1952 this was a big watch, today it is a perfect medium-sized dress piece that wears bigger than the dimensions would suggest (square watches usually look bigger on the wrist than round designs of the same size). It also features one of the most complex sapphire crystals you will encounter – a domed square shape, which is extremely difficult to manufacture.
The original was notable for featuring a triple-date complication that displayed the phases of the moon, the day, the date, and the month. The re-issue version we have here retains the layout and complication of the original but adds the convenience of automatic winding courtesy of the Vacheron 36 jewel 1125/1225 calibre movement. As it is an annual calendar, you only need to set it once a year to correct for leap years. Calendar setup is aided by a series of quickset buttons on the sides of the case, which can be activated with the included punch tool. The annual (and its bigger brother, the perpetual) calendar – moonphase is one of the all-time classic complications for a dress watch; that signature blue moonphase disc just looks right on the clean silver dial. Vintage watch lovers will instantly recognize the layout of the triple-date display, as this sort of design was common in the 1950s and 60s among a variety of manufacturers.
The dial of the Toledo is almost as nice as the sensually-shaped case. It is a silvery-white colour with quite a bit of depth owing to a variety of textures. The centre of the dial has a unique pattern that offsets the circular graining of the seconds/moonphase subdial. Look closely and you will see a very fine brushed finish on the outer part of the dial. The hour track is separated from the centre by a recessed “moat” that holds the date scale. Everything is cleanly laid out and easy to read; the time hands and hour markers are in gold while all other markers are printed in black. The day-month is printed in a deep blue that matches the moonphase display, which features polished gold star and moon indicators. The date hand is distinguished by being blued steel. It’s all very elegant and easy to read, what more could you ask for?
The Toledo wears very well on the wrist. The curved shape means it fits perfectly and comfortably, and without any lugs jutting out to spoil the clean design. The watch has a nice heft for its size owing to the gold case. The strap is closed by a signature maltese-cross tang buckle, which I would choose over a complex deployant buckle anyday. I’ve always found deployants on straps irritating, as I have small but flat wrists – nobody makes a deployant that I find comfortable.
This example is one of three that were available at launch in 2003. The first edition of the Toledo was available in 18k rose gold (as we have here), as well as 18k white gold and a limited edition of 100 examples in platinum. Our example is in very good condition with the box, papers and tools as well as the original 18k gold buckle (on a new third-party strap). If you want a distinctive vintage-inspired piece, without the usual vintage watch headaches, the Toledo 1952 is a great choice. The unique shape sets it apart from typical complicated dress watches, while the annual calendar moonphase is a must-have complication for any serious watch lover. If you would like any more information about our Toledo you can call me at 514 845 8878 or visit our contact page.