Best of The Hour Lounge: Vacheron & Constantin Tonneau Wrist Watches

May 28, 2021,21:12 PM

Inspired by the Harmony watches of fellow Vachonistas and the piece unique American 1921 recently introduced, I've reached into the vault for this feature on shaped watches.  But first, an explanation of model numbers. 

Image credit Vacheron Constantin unless otherwise noted.

By The Numbers

Vacheron & Constantin employed three formats over the years to identify timepieces: photo reference numbers, catalog numbers, and model reference numbers.    From 1904 to 1937, V&C photographed certain watches of interest and assigned them photo reference numbers in sequence from 1 to 3800.  These were internal identifiers, unrelated to the catalog numbers used in printed materials for dealers and customers.  

Photo reference were superseded in 1938 with production-based model reference numbers, commencing at 4000.  Note, however, that series 5000, 8000 and 9000 were not used.  Until 1950, model reference numbers were used for internal purposes and were not inscribed on timepieces.  After 1950, model reference numbers replaced catalog numbers and were inscribed on the inner case back, along with hallmarks and case serial numbers.

1912  Photo reference 885. 

1912  Photo reference 908, Tonneau Allongé.

1912  Photo reference 941, unique piece.  Platinum case Allongé, yellow gold case back, bezel set with diamonds and sapphires, screw lugs,  calibre 9’’’ 15/12.

1912  Photo reference 952.  White gold, silver dial, screw lugs, calibre 9’’’ 15/12.

1913  Yellow gold case Bassiné measuring 27mm x 48mm with white enamel pattern on bezel, calibre RA 11’’’ N78 Amérique, 16 jewels.

1914  Photo reference 1172.  Available in yellow or white gold, case 27mm wide, round calibre RA 9’’’ 15/12, 16 jewels.

1915  No reference assigned.  Yellow gold case Bassiné measuring 29mm x 49.5mm with screwed lugs, calibre Amérique.

1917  Photo reference 1440.  Available in yellow or white gold.  Watch strap passes under the case.

1917  Photo reference 1455.  White gold, calibre 11’’’ RA.

1918  No reference assigned, Tonneau Pointu.  Available in yellow or white gold, calibre 11’’’ RA.  Vacheron & Constantin’s first use of radium on a tonneau watch.

1919  Photo reference 1837.  Yellow gold.

1919  No reference assigned, Tonneau Lozenge.  Yellow gold case measuring 26mm x 46.5mm, calibre RA 9’’’ 94 VNP, 16 jewels.

1920  Photo reference 1764.  White gold, also a unique piece in platinum, calibre RA 9’’’.

1920  No reference assigned, Tonneau Arqué in yellow gold, 9 and 10 ligne calibres.

1920  Photo Reference 2576.  Available in yellow, white or green gold.

1921  No reference assigned, Tonneau Pointu in yellow or white gold, 9 ligne calibre.

1922  Photo reference 2573.  White gold.

1922  Photo reference 1865.  Available in white or green gold.  Registered again as Photo Reference 3305 in 1930.

1922  Photo reference 1969.

1922  Photo reference 1970.

1922  Photo reference 1975.

1922  Photo reference 1976, Tonneau Court.

1922  Photo reference 1977, Tonneau Tronqué, white gold.

1922  Photo reference 2586.  Available in white or green gold.

1923  Photo reference 2317.

1924  Photo reference 2316.  Tortue case by Verger Frères.  Available in yellow, white or green gold, also two in platinum and two in osmior.

1924  Photo reference 2433.  Available in green or white gold, calibre RA 10’’’.

1924  Photo reference 2434.  Available in green or white gold.

1924  Photo reference 3289 and 3296.  White gold, sub-seconds.

1926  No reference assigned.  Green gold Tronqué case measuring 25mm x 25mm, round calibre 9’’’ 94, 15 jewels.

1926  Photo reference 3459.  Unique piece in platinum.

1927  Photo reference 2661.  Stepped case, bezel in white gold and case in green gold, calibre 8’’’ 15/12.

1927  Photo reference 2893.  Tonneau Allongé, available in green or white gold or platinum, calibre 8’’’ 15/12.

1927  Photo reference 3244.  Platinum or green gold, 9 ligne calibre.

1927  Photo reference 2757.  White gold, 11 ligne calibre.

1927  Photo reference 2758.  Green gold, calibre 9’’’ 94.

1927  Photo reference 2759.  Two-tone white and yellow gold, curved case back.

1927  Photo reference 2761.  Green gold.

1927  Photo references 2765 and 3656.  Two-tone white and green gold.

1927  Photo reference 3365.  Green gold, calibre 9’’’ 94. 

1927  Photo reference 3383.  Available in white or yellow gold, 11 ligne calibre.

1928  Photo reference 2869.

1928  Photo reference 2907.

1928  Photo reference 3657.  Green gold, 11 ligne calibre.

1929  Photo reference 3032.  Platinum, 9 ligne calibre.

1929  Photo reference 3233.  Green gold.  Along with the rectangular-shaped Ref. 3234, may be Vacheron & Constantin’s first calendar wrist watch.

1930  Photo reference 3194.

1932  Photo reference 3352.  Tonneau Plat, 9 ligne calibre.

1933  Photo reference 3426.  Yellow or white gold, unique piece in platinum.

1933  Photo reference 3388.  Unique piece, yellow gold Taubert water-resistant case with screw-down case back and bezel, RA 12’’’ calibre.  The first Overseas?

1933  Photo reference 3446 (day/date, moon phases) and 3447 (day/date).  Victorin Piguet ébauche.

1936  Photo reference 3620.  Unique piece in gold, day/date and minute repeater.  The so-called Don Pancho.

Watch was originally revealed in The Hour Lounge by a descendant of the original owner asking for advice on restoration.

Here as restored by Vacheron Constantin with newly created dial.

Phillips image

1950  Model reference 6070.  Yellow or white gold, calibre 453 sub-seconds.

1955  Model reference 6072.  Yellow or white gold, calibre 454 centre seconds.

1961  Model reference 6589.  Yellow or white gold, calibre 1001.

1963  Model reference 6627.  Yellow or white gold, calibre 1003.

1963  Model reference 6891.  Yellow or white gold, calibre 1003.

1964  Model reference 6983.  Tonneau Carré, yellow gold, calibre 1003.

1964  Model reference 6984.  Yellow gold, calibre 1072.  The first Vacheron & Constantin tonneau watch with automatic movement.

1967  Model reference 7253.  Yellow or white gold, calibre 1001.

1967  Model reference 7460.  Yellow or white gold, calibre 1001.

1971  Model reference 45003.  Yellow or white gold, automatic calibre 1121.

The Calibres

Oval shaped movements introduced in 1927.

7’'' 14 - 12

RA 7’''

RA 8’'' 15 - 12 

Tonneau shaped movements introduced in 1932.

7’'' 9 - 20

7’'' 17 - 24

RA 8’'' 15 - 12

RA 8’'' 

RA 9’'' tonneau


  • Vacheron Constantin and the Tonneau: 100 Years of Creativity by Alex Ghotbi, Vacheron Constantin Community & Social Media Manager, The Hour Lounge internet forum, 18 June 2012.
  • The World of Vacheron Constantin Genève by Lambelet and Coen, Vacheron Constantin/Editions Scriptar SA, 1992.
  • Treasures of Vacheron Constantin, Éditions Hazan, 2011.

This message has been edited by FabR on 2021-05-29 09:32:25

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Comments: view entire thread


Great post Dean +++++

 By: patrickh : May 29th, 2021-06:15
I love the minimalist design of the ref 6589 produced in 1961. Do you have more details (size, 1001 movement) I also like the "cathedrale" hands ;-) All the Best, Patrick ...  

Calibre 1001

 By: Tick Talk : May 29th, 2021-15:29
Thanks Patrick The 1001 is a very elegant movement with classic finger bridges, introduced in 1951. Based on the JLC 818 ebauche, it measures 9 lignes across with a height of 2.94mm. 18,000 vph and 17 or 18 jewels depending on variant. The one pictured he...  

Many Thanks Dean +++++

 By: patrickh : May 29th, 2021-17:12

I was quite excited by the Ref 6984

 By: Tick Talk : May 29th, 2021-15:39
A clever design to accommodate the larger automatic movement while still looking like a classic dress watch. ...  

Ok but does not compare to Alex's Wedding Cake dial VC ...

 By: MikiJ : May 29th, 2021-16:17
Any chance you can post that beauty on the Front Page where these are posted-please?

This is a thread on tonneau shapes

 By: Tick Talk : May 29th, 2021-16:40
there is no logical connection here, nor with Front Page as far as I can see. You have such a deep interest in this one piece, perhaps contact Alex directly?

OK...I have spoke with Alex

 By: MikiJ : May 29th, 2021-16:50
Hard to believe it's going nowhere

Thank you for sharing.

 By: teacher Sun : May 30th, 2021-02:50
This is a learning garden for vintage VC's enthusiasts. I find a variant of ref 6627 ...  

I don't understand the size of the movement

 By: teacher Sun : May 30th, 2021-03:01
7’'' 17 - 24 I guess 7’'' is the length of the movement What does 17-24 mean? ...  

Systems for measuring movement size and thickness

 By: Tick Talk : May 30th, 2021-16:18
Great question but I can only give you a partial explanation of the movement descriptions for these shaped calibres. There were industry conventions to describe movement sizes and we are all familiar with the ligne of 2.256mm used to indicate the width of...  

thank you very much

 By: teacher Sun : May 31st, 2021-00:33