After the runaway success of the Antiqua perpetual calendar in 1998, a timepiece now considered the bridge between traditional and contemporary watchmaking, the maverick Vianney Halter produced a simpler time-only wristwatch. Called the Classic, this wristwatch continued to channel the steampunk aesthetic of the Antiqua, and further cemented Halter’s place among the modern greats.
Now, the visionary artisanal watchmaker presents the Classic Date in white gold, a modified version of the watch which features a date complication. Halter, whose creations have a distinct ethos and philosophy, says he only made two pieces of the Classic Date, the present one in white gold and the other in red gold.
Part of “Futur Anterieur” collection, the watch has the same distinct case construction we first saw on the Antiqua. A self-confessed sci-fi geek, Halter says the porthole-like construction of the case was inspired by Nautilus - no, not the wristwatch that everyone wants to buy at three times the retail price now, but Captain Nemo’s submarine from the Jules Verne classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas. This model was made in a total of 250 pieces - in pink, yellow and white gold but with different dial variations.
The white gold case is 36 mm wide and the now familiar brushed riveted bezel frames the dial. Twelve rivets sit on the porthole-like circular frame that serves as the bezel, each rivet denoting an hour. The knurled crown is easy to grip and operate and the case has a mix of brushed and polished surfaces that play off the light well.
Flip the watch over to get a look at “mysterious mass rotor” - the oscillating mass lies hidden behind a peripheral ring and appears with no visible link to the central sapphire crystal rotor. This rotor was first seen on the Antiqua’s VH198 movement. The Classic runs a heavily-modified Lemania 8810 movement.
The salmon dial is beautifully-crafted with an inner grained disk set lower and a circular-brushed outer ring that hosts the hand-engraved blue numerals; time is indicated by matching blued steel hands. A curved date window is placed at the 6 o’clock position and the current date is framed by the previous and the following date on the hand-engraved disc. While the salmon and blue tone of the dial is pleasing to the eye, Halter has introduced a third colour scheme into the mix what with every alternate date on the disc in red.
Why the date window now? According to Halter, it’s a complication that he always wanted to integrate into the Classic, but never had the time to do during its production run. In the end, he was only left with two cases - one in white and the other in red gold and he decided to have a go.
The movement had to be modified to fit the date complication. This is a jumping date display, thanks to the use of an instantaneous jumping spring in the date complication. To quickly correct the date, the user has to pull the crown out to the second stop.
Given the known production numbers, the Classic from Vianney Halter is a rare bird. The Classic Date elevates this Vianney Halter timepiece to a whole new level of rarity. The timepiece is available at Salon Des Horlogers, the dedicated salon for independent watch brands based in Geneva, Switzerland.