The Poinçon de Genève or Hallmark of Geneva recently celebrated its 125th anniversary, and beginning this June, the requirements to earn the Hallmark will be expanded. At SIHH, Vacheron Constantin will unveil an impressive new watch that is the first to earn the new quality mark. Learn more about the new hallmark and the first watch to earn it, and find wallpaper images and complete specs inside.
Since the creation of the Genevan law of 1886, the original Poinçon de Genève criteria concerned only movements, with an emphasis on various finishing requirements and no provisions relating to timekeeping accuracy. Effective this June, the criteria to earn the Seal will be expanded, and under the new guidelines, the entire watch will be certified. The new criteria add requirements covering external case aesthetics, water resistance, accuracy, power reserve, and the performance of complications. The finished watch is tested, not uncased or individual components. Briefly stated, the new performance criteria for cased watches require:
– Minimum water resistance from -.5 to 3 ATM for all watches. Of course, greater water resistance may be offered.
– All functions are tested through one cycle. For example, a perpetual calendar might be set to February 27 and left to run to ensure all indications change correctly on March 1, or on a chronograph, the start, stop and reset functions will be tested.
– Each watch is tested under conditions simulating seven days of normal wear, and over that period, the maximum acceptable deviation is one minute. If the watch has functions beyond simple timekeeping, they must not adversely affect accuracy. For example, if a chronograph is tested, the chronograph function will be left to run for 24 hours and the watch must still operate within the one minute acceptable deviation rule.
– The power reserve will be tested to ensure it meets the figure claimed by the manufacturer.
As underlined by Daniel Favre, President of the Foundation Council of TIMELAB – the Geneva Laboratory of Horology and Microengineering that hosts the certification: “The Poinçon de Genève is undergoing a revolution that will give it even more standing. This sort of AOC1 is a true guarantee of quality whose boundaries are being enlarged so as to correspond as closely as possible to customer expectations for fine watchmaking pieces.”
Below, a Poinçon de Genève certificate, and the tool used to inscribe the hallmark. (Images courtesy TIMELAB)
The first watch to meet the new requirements and to earn the new Seal is the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon with caliber 2260 movement. This newest member of the Patrimony family is equipped with four barrels mounted in coupled pairs. They are all connected and all unwind simultaneously, but four times slower than a single barrel. The four barrel-springs amount to a total length of around 2.2 meters or more than seven feet, and each enables approximately 13 development rotations, all in a caliber with a diameter of only 29.1 mm. In addition to the longer power reserve, the barrels provide a stable rate over a longer period of time.
The new calibre 2260 consists of 231 components with two large bridges rather than the three appearing on previous Vacheron Constantin tourbillons. Vacheron says this architecture enhances precision in terms of assembly, but makes the watchmaker’s access to the movement more difficult.
The tourbillon carriage is inspired by the brand’s signature Maltese Cross and shows off the level of finishing of each movement part, including a number of interior angles, all of which are hand-beveled. Vacheron says the rounding off of the tourbillon bar alone requires over 11 hours of manual craftsmanship.
In addition to the tourbillon and small seconds at 6 o’clock, Vacheron Constantin Calibre 2260 also drives the slightly off-center hour and minute functions, as well as a 14-day power-reserve display with a 280° register for improved readability. The location of the power reserve at 12 o’clock, along with the silver-tone opaline dial and external minute circle are inspired by several historical pocket-watches from the Vacheron Constantin archives.
As this story is published, the retail price has yet to be determined.
Patrimony Traditionnelle 14-day Tourbillon
Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva
Calibre: 2260, developed and crafted by Vacheron Constantin
Energy: Mechanical hand-wound
Movement diameter: 29.10 mm (12 ¾ lignes)
Movement thickness: 6.80 mm
Number of movement parts: 231
Frequency: 2.5Hz (18,000 vibrations per hour)
Indications: Hours, minutes and small seconds at 6 o’clock on the tourbillon carriage
Additional functions: Tourbillon and 14-day power reserve thanks to four barrels coupled in pairs
Power reserve: Approximately 336 hours (14 days)
Case:18K 5N pink gold
42.00 mm in diameter
12.20 mm thick
Transparent back fitted with a sapphire crystal
Water resistance: Tested at a pressure of 3 bar (approx. 30 meters)
Dial: Opaline silver-tone, black-painted indications (minutes, seconds, power reserve) and white-painted internal zones
Strap: Brown Mississippiensis alligator leather, large square scales, hand-sewn, saddle-finish
Clasp:Folding triple-blade clasp in 18K 5N pink gold
Polished half Maltese Cross