Insider: Vacheron Constantin Quai de L'Ile Date ref. 86050/000T Titanium. Hands-on with the Customizable Timepiece from the Oldest Watch Manufacture in the World.

The Quai de L'Ile is the most modern collection offered by Vacheron Constantin, the oldest watch manufacture in continuous operation in the world established in 1755 by Jean-Marc Vacheron. This collection, launched in 2008, not only offers watches in materials like titanium or palladium —materials typically not used by someone like Vacheron Constantin—, but also the ability to customize and personalize the watch with no less than 700 possible combinations allowing the client to choose everything from the middle case, to the bezel, the case band —flanks—, the strap, the buckle, the dial and the movement.

Named after the street where the manufacture was established in Geneva, Switzerland in 1875 and where the Vacheron Constantin Museum and their Geneva flagship boutique are now located, the Quai de L'Ile collection is the perfect option for those looking for something different to the Overseas collection and wanting to choose something less traditional and classical than the rest of the collections from this manufacture. With three metals available to choose from —pink gold, palladium and titanium— and three different automatic movements —automatic with date, day-date and power reserve or retrograde annual calendar—, the Quai de L'Ile is the perfect customizable watch.

The Vacheron Constantin Quai de L'Ile Date ref. 86050 Titanium, is one of those watches that offers the unexpected. Fitted with a smoked sapphire dial that allows for partial view of the movement, this watch is as modern and revolutionary looking as it gets, thanks to its multi-part case that can be fully customized and even personalized with a special engraving on its case back as we explained earlier.

The Case

Equipped with a satin brushed titanium cushion-shaped case measuring 41 mm in diameter and 11.75 mm in thickness, the Vacheron Constantin Quai de L'Ile features a multi-part case construction composed of four main parts that include: a middle case with detachable end-lugs, two case bands —or flanks as referred to by VC—, a bezel and a crown. Due to its multi-part construction, the case on the Quai de L'Ile shows sharp angles and a stepped look from whichever angle you appreciate it. Rounding out the exterior of the Quai de L'Ile, the watch is fitted with a pull-out crown with the iconic Maltese cross on it. The watch is water resistant to a depth of 30 meters.

The Dial

The Vacheron Constantin Quai de L'Ile Date ref. 86050 Titanium is fitted with a silver grey smoked sapphire crystal dial with Maltese cross pattern and concentric lines pattern. This film under the sapphire crystal dial is also a micro-security film with hidden characters only visible under UV light and used to protect authenticity in a similar way as national banks do with currency. The film allows for only partial view of the ruthenium plated movement below. The dial features black engraved Arabic numerals for the date indication towards the center of the dial, applied Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9 and white imprinted Arabic numerals —with numbers and letters— for the rest of the hours.

Additionally, at 4 o'clock right underneath the date indicator driving wheel and the date corrector lever, there is a small illustration of the same sun that appears on the dial of the clock at the clock tower on Tour de L’Ile in Place Bel-Air, in the Saint-Gervais district of Geneva right across the street from the Vacheron Constantin Boutique & Museum on Quai de L'Ile 7 —the clock is actually part of the Leumi Private Bank building between Rue des Moulins and Rue de la Tour-de-L'Ile.

Picture from Fondation Genève Tourisme & Congrès.

The modern design of the Vacheron Constantin Quai de L'Ile Date ref. 86050 Titanium is rounded out by black baton hands with superluminova inserts. Another thing we absolutely love about this watch, is how the date is indicated. Using a blank ruthenium plated date wheel with a white rectangle on it, this wheel turns clockwise right underneath the sapphire crystal dial and as it moves, it provides a white background for the date, thus the date indication is never in the same position around its dial.

Lastly, the dial of the Vacheron Constantin QDL features an engraving of the legendary words written by Francois Constantin to Vacheron providing feedback on his travels while selling their watches abroad: "With your able assistance, I promise you that we will make as much from watchmaking as all the commercial travellers together... I assure you that we will be strong: our watchmaking is highly esteemed here, by continuing to do better if possible and that is always possible." The last part of this phrase is also Vacheron's motto: "Do better if possible and that is always possible."

The Strap

The Vacheron Constantin Quai de L'Ile Date ref. 86050 Titanium is always provided with two straps, one an alligator strap and the other, a rubber strap. When going with a customized Quai de L'Ile, the client is able to select the color of the strap between brown or black and the material of the buckle —matching the main material on the case, case band or bezel— to go with the watch. In this case, the buckle is a double folding deployant buckle with half Maltese cross in matching titanium.

The Movement

This Vacheron Constantin Quai de L'Ile Date ref. 86050 Titanium is powered by the in-house automatic calibre 2460. This calibre has recently been replaced by the new VC in-house calibre 5100/1 fitted on the Quai de L'Ile Date ref. 4500. This certified 'Hallmark of Geneva' automatic movement features 27 jewels —37 jewels on the new calibre— to provide a power reserve of 43 hours —60 hours of power reserve on new calibre— when fully wound while beating at a frequency of 28,800 vph. The movement is fully visible via the display case back and bears an anthracite grey oscillating weight.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the Vacheron Constantin Quai de L'Ile Date ref. 86050 Titanium wears true to its size and quite comfortably. With a sporty yet elegant wrist presence, this is the type of Vacheron Constantin that can be worn, literally everywhere. This is a very unique looking Vacheron Constantin watch, that breaks with the traditional cues of watchmaking mastered by the Maison, and that reinvents timekeeping in a masterful way.

Sticker Price $29,000 USD. For more info on Vacheron Constantin click here.