The Vacheron Constantin Malte Retrograde Perpetual Calendar

by Alex Ghotbi
© 8-31-2002

The first time I heard about this watch was sometime in November-December 2001, a perpetual calendar without moonphase. For me it was inconceivable, it was like James Bond without Sean Connery, Cindy Crawford without her mole, like Mercedes without Benz without - OK, OK, I guess you get the picture.

Then I saw the watch at the Geneva show in May and my first reaction was $%a&µ#ing beautiful, gorgeous, I want it right now!! Finally it took the gentle persuasion of two 140 kilo (each!) guards, who make my neighbor’s pitbull look like a teddy bear, for me to finally release my grasp on the watch.

I wiped the foam from my mouth, had a drink and decided to examine the watch. A beautiful and perfectly balanced guilloché dial, an original year and leap year display (a first!) fitted in the beautiful Malte case make the watch a truly elegant and original timepiece. The movement is hidden by a hinged back cover which reveals the cal 1126 with an exclusive retrograde perpetual calendar module designed by Vacheron’s watchmakers in the Vallée du Joux.

For me this model really announces the renaissance of Vacheron Constantin: a fantastic marque with a unique history who wants to get its place back all the way on top.

The Malte Collection, The Taste of Today in Time

The Retrograde Perpetual Calendar watch’s generous case size, 39 mm across, comes in a choice of pink gold or platinum. It naturally includes the Malte collection’s classic signature features - broad, fan-like bracelet lugs and the stylized "Maltese Cross" on the crown along with swordblade-shaped watch hands. It is also fitted with an "officer’s case back", i.e. with the underside of the case hinged to open like a lid and reveal a clear sapphire lens through which to admire the selfwinding movement in action. A monogram, family crest, symbol or other inscription can thus be discreetly engraved on the backplate’s inner face...

Embodying both the style and the spirit of their time, the self-assured personality and crisp, decisive design of Malte timepieces form a convincing and successful demonstration of contemporary craftsmanship at its finest.


Compact in construction - 11 1/2 ligne diameter and 5.05 mm thick - Vacheron Constantin’s 1126 QPR selfwinding caliber displays a full range of calendar indications: the day of the week, the date and the month along with the current year and its place in the four-year leap-year sequence, plus the time of day in hours and minutes. True to its name, the perpetual calendar automatically adjusts for months of 28, 29, 30 and 31 days - in other words marking leap years on its own. It requires only one manual adjustment every century, the next one scheduled for the year 2100.

This exceptional movement features an unusual retrograde indication of the date. Designed and built in the company’s own workshops, this unusual mechanism testifies to the inventiveness and ingenuity of Vacheron Constantin’s watchmakers. Covering the sectoral array of a full month’s dates, an arrowhead pointer designed for to-and-fro motion "retrojumps" back to its starting point at the end of every month and immediately resumes its travel. Days of the week and months are shown on a pair of subdials, the current year in a dial window at 6 o’clock, another, smaller window at 3 o’clock indicating its position in the quadrennial leap-year cycle and marking the leap year by the letter "B" rather than by a number.

The Dial: Legibility in Style

Displaying their usual tasteful yet practical mastery of dial design, Vacheron Constantin stylists have engine-turned the dial to give it a dense, regular texture that absorbs rather than reflects light, improving the instant legibility of the time read off 18K gold hour markers and Roman numerals by a pair of swordblade-shaped hands. For their part, the perpetual calendar’s indications are inscribed in matt black figures, letters and symbols on a smooth metal background and clearly indicated by a hand or pointer.

A square-scale pattern alligator mississipiensis leather strap fitted with a standard tang buckle in platinum or in gold, completes this remarkable timepiece. The Malte collection’s Retrograde Perpetual Calendar watch comes in a fine wood presentation case containing a stylus with which to action the watch’s two correctors, for the days and for the months respectively, flush with the case frame.

Technical Specifications

Reference 47031/000P-8956 and 47031/000R-8955
Caliber number 1126 QPR
Movement thickness 5.05 mm
Movement diameter 11 1/2 ’’’, i.e. 26 mm (1 ligne = 2.255 mm)
Jewelling 36
Power reserve 40 hours
Rate frequency 28, 800 vibrations per hour (v.p.h.)
Dial indications hours and minutes; day, date, month, years including leap-year sequence
Dial engine-turned
Case 950 platinum and 18K pink 5N gold
Water resistance to 30 meters (approx. 100 feet)
Strap padded and hand-stitched alligator mississipiensis leather
Clasp tang buckle in 950 platinum or 18K pink gold

- Alex

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Copyright 8-31-2002 - Alex Ghotbi and - all rights reserved