Wednesday, October 7, 2015

J Farren-Price and Vacheron Constantin Harmony Collection Dinner

We recently received an invitation to attend the Sydney launch of the 260th Anniversary Harmony Collection watches from Vacheron-Constantin. The evening was to be held in the Kent Street Kitchen at The Langham, Sydney. Of course we couldn't say no!
The Langham, Sydney was formerly The Observatory Hotel, a hotel we had wanted to go to but for some reason never made it down to the Rocks to stay there. Upon walking through the front doors we were suitably impressed. Quite luxurious! Cream walls, marble and wood floors, in some areas the rugs were recessed in to the marble. Beautiful soft pastel shades on the furnishings, wood, marble and glass topped tables, consoles and coffee tables abounded and everywhere huge floral displays, polished brass highlighting everything. 
We made our way into the Kent Street Kitchen, where we were met by the staff of J Farren-Price in a reception area decorated with historical images of some of the vintage watches used as inspiration for the Harmony Collection special editions. A video of the watches and components being constructed and designed was also playing. Very fascinating to see the level of craftsmanship and detail that goes into high end luxury watches
After canapes and a couple of glasses of Dom Perignon, we were taken through to the dining room where a display table with the Vacheron Constantin 260th Anniversary Harmony Collection was set close to the dining table.
A long communal table was dressed elegantly in a crisp black cloth, white linen serviettes, a variety of white flowers and foliage in sparkly crystal and gleaming silver ware.
A relaxed seating/lounging area was also adjacent to the dining area.
Looking at the menu, we saw an interesting and delicious array of food planned for our dinner, with some French wines that we were eager to sample.
First course was smoked ocean trout, escabeche, rocket, lemon pearls, pumpernickel. A very light yet flavoursome entree. The pumpernickel was done as crumbs, rocket presented as a puree with little crispy bits of skin served like crackling. This was served with a Domaine Christian Salmon Sancerre from the Loire Valley in France, a nice crisp wine that matched the fish perfectly.
Two main courses were offered with the first being butter poached West Australian marron, burnt onion and shellfish risotto.My wife was a bit dubious about this as she said that sometimes a seafood stock can be quite strong, however she was very pleasantly surprised as this had quite a gentle seafood flavor to the risotto. The nasturtium leaves gave a nice peppery hit to the dish. Our wine with this course was Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose from Provence, France. The Bandol Rose was a blend of Mouverdre, Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan, some varieties that we aren’t too familiar with here in Australia.  
During dinner there was ample time to chat away with those near you or to examine up close the Vacheron Constantin 260th Anniversary Harmony Collection.  I love the contemporary cushion shape of the whole collection. We were fortunate to see most of the collection including:
  • the Harmony Chronograph Tourbillon Calibre 3200 – which combines a manual winding chronograph with a tourbillon regulator
  • the Harmony Chronograph Calibre 3300 – with a brand new in-house chronograph movement
  • the Harmony Chronograph small size Calibre 1142 – the ladies edition with the old Lemania-based chronograph movement
  • the Harmony Dual Time Calibre 2460DT – the simplest edition of the collection with a second time-zone indication. The engraved rotor is just divine.

My absolute favourite is the Harmony Mono-pusher Chronograph Calibre 3300 as has a very classic (but marvellous) design which took its inspiration from a historical Vacheron Doctor's chronograph from 1928.
This is the first Vacheron to have an in-house chronograph movement. It was time for Vacheron to have its in-house chronograph movement, replacing the Lemania-based movements used up to now.  This Calibre 3300 will certainly not only be seen in this 260-piece limited edition of the Harmony but serve as a base for the new standard manually-wound chronograph calibres.  For the 260th anniversary limited edition the balance cock is hand-engraved with a floral fleurisanne motif that will be absent on the regular production Harmony to be launched in 2016. This makes this current watch even more special and important in the evolution of Vacheron.

We were told that the conception of the Calibre 3300 started in 2008. Developing a chronograph movement is long as it is certainly one of the most complicated architectures possible, as multiple gears, levers, brakes, clutches and wheels have to be designed and assembled very precisely.
In my view this reconfirms the place of VC amongst the top which includes Lange and its more obvious rival Patek. 
The second main course was a twice cooked beef short rib, marrow gelee, parsnip puree, Brussels sprouts. The beef ribs were so tender, the parsnip puree very smooth and creamy, and the Brussels sprouts cooked but still firm, several of the Brussels sprout leaves were nicely crisped, and the bone filled with a herbed crumb. Really a delicious course! Our wine was of course a very nice red, Chateau St. Georges, St. Georges-St. Emilion, France. At 80% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc it was a great pairing with the richness of the rib.
Dessert was apple mousse, honey cremeux and chocolate crumble, a very cute dessert and it was a shame to eat it. It tasted delicious, the green outer glaze concealed the apple mousse, so when you put your spoon in to it, it looked like a Granny Smith apple.
It was a truly wonderful event, in very elegant surroundings, with wonderful food and wine. We would like to thank J. Farren-Price and Vacheron Constantin for inviting us to be part of the night.