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On a daily basis, we are inundated with requests for our suggestions on finding the "perfect" vintage dress watch. There are of course a multitude of possibilities when considering fine men's timepieces from the past century, but our criteria remain consistent.
A proper dress watch should be thin and unobtrusive, cased in a precious metal, and feature a simple dial layout without unnecessary complication or clutter. Furthermore, it is entirely unnecessary to spend your whole watch budget on a dress piece - there are literally hundreds of fantastic options for relatively little money. Be it Early American, Japanese, or Swiss in origin, so long as these criteria are met, you're on the right track.
When we spotted this 1940s Vacheron Constantin we knew we had encountered a rarity: a piece that was built with function and wearability in mind but that has, through the ages, crystalized as a stunning dress piece. Pieces developed in Switzerland during WWII were almost all function-driven watches. Owing to shortages of certain precious metals and a practical design zeitgeist even large and prestigious manufactures like Vacheron Constantin - the world's oldest continually operating watch manufacture - were producing small, steel timepieces.
This example is a very pleasing example of the little-seen Model 4301 produced in 1945. The 34.5mm steel case embraces a subdued silver dial with Arabic luminous hour markers very similar in design to the pilot's and officer's watches produced for the British MOD at the same time. The luminous blues-steel syringe hands bring a light touch of class and make this piece absolutely eye-grabbing.
With a recent mechanical overhaul and Extract From The Archives of Vacheron Constantin, you can rest assured that this is not a neglected or abused horological artifact, but one that has been loved and appreciated, and is ready for ongoing use.
While the forums and eBay are flush with mediocre mid-century watches, finding a crisp and honest piece worthy of any collection is rare. Finding a piece of this caliber from one of the most respected brands today is Herculean.
Stainless Steel case is approximately 34.5mm (excluding the crown). Vacheron Constantin Reference 4301. VC Calibre 12"1/2-454 SEC. C. Manually Winding Movement. 1945.
Overall Condition: The watch is in stunning condition throughout with no signs of restoration or over-polishing. The case retains very honest shape and the holed lugs are sharp. Silver dial with luminous Arabic numerals has patinated to a light Champagne color, bearing a small scratch near 8:00. Luminous material on the dial and in the blued-steel syringe hands has aged evenly and shows no signs of degradation. Unsigned crown and screw case back.
Includes one 18mm tan distressed leather strap with contrast stitching and two 18mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.
Also includes an Extract From the Archives from Vacheron Constantin dated May 25th, 2012.