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Vacheron Constantin Quai de l'ile-Swiss Luxury Watches Review

Updated on January 7, 2015

Quai de l'ile

One of the latest innovations in the world of high-end watchmaking, Vacheron Constantin's Quai De L'ile (the name refers to the company's store address in Geneva, Switzerland) does not manifest a breakthrough in technology, or even design.

The real novelty consists of the unprecedented in its openness customization philosophy: customers have the option to assemble a watch according to their individual taste. At every step of the assembling process there are several choices, and all in all over one hundred personalized timepieces can be created.

Customizing luxury watches is nothing new in the exclusive high-end sphere. Indeed, it has long been the norm, Vacheron Constantin routinely producing and fine-tuning unique or very limited production items to satisfy the tastes of elite connoisseurs.

But the "mass production" approach of Quai De L'ile marks a new step in the history of the brand, and the entire industry. In Quai De L'ile, the company abdicates some of its privileges and allows the buyers to participate in the process – drawing them in and blurring the line between the customer and the manufacturer.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Palladium | Gray Dial | DatePink Gold | Light Dial |DateTitanium | Dark Dial | DatePink Gold | Light Dial | Day-DateTitanium | Dark Dial | Day-Date
Palladium | Gray Dial | Date
Palladium | Gray Dial | Date
Pink Gold | Light Dial |Date
Pink Gold | Light Dial |Date
Titanium | Dark Dial | Date
Titanium | Dark Dial | Date
Pink Gold | Light Dial | Day-Date
Pink Gold | Light Dial | Day-Date
Titanium | Dark Dial | Day-Date
Titanium | Dark Dial | Day-Date

Personalized Design

Quai De L'ile comprises two lines: the established current collection, consisting of six fixed variations, and the new personalized collection. The models in the former – featuring a date or a day-date dial and mechanism – are encased in either pink gold, palladium or titanium, and enclosed by a sapphire crystal. The translucent dials reveal various parts of the mechanism via a somewhat snowy grid – a design feature that according to some critics obstructs time reading.

Overall, the profile displays robust classic traits with sports overtones, while the dial produces a very busy and dynamic composition. In some models, however, the dynamics may appear so smooth as to inhibit the act of time reading. The reason for this excess smoothness is the lack of strong focal points which would fixate the eye instantly upon glancing. This might be a minor style-over-usability concession Vacheron Constantin made in order to retain an aesthetically harmonious appearance.

But the great thing about this collection is that any seeming visual shortcomings can be sidestepped by creating a personalized timepiece. The second segment grants the option to construct a day-date watch the lugs of which would be made of pink gold, the flanks of titanium and the bezel of palladium. This watch can have either the dark, the gray, or the light dial, and it can be worn using an alligator leather or a rubber strap, brown or black.

Reflecting Complexities

There are more features in the Quai De L'ile, such as laser engraving and various security precautions, but I would like to conclude with a psychological evaluation: what personality types I think this collection will suit best. It's obvious that it won't suit everybody – some oppose the idea of customized assembly, others seek more visual clarity.

In my opinion, Quai De L'ile (especially the gray and dark dials) will resonate with the moody, darker type individuals, who may have secretive tendencies. The snow on the faces of these watches conceals what the crystal wants to show – a struggle that may effectively echo a temperament peculiarity.

It may be that the real achievement of this collection does not rest in the technological, aesthetic or craftsmanship complexities, but in their capacity to reflect the state of mind of the modern individual.

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