Vacheron Constantin introduced a whole new family of timepieces at SIHH 2018. The FiftySix collection takes as its template a vintage model from 1956 - the brand’s first self-winding watch, the now-iconic Reference 6073 – and gives it an elegantly modern twist and offering three distinctive models.
Like its historical predecessor, the FiftySix models feature a unique case design inspired by the Maltese cross, long identified as a symbol of the brand, with each of the curved lugs representing one branch of this 15th-century badge of honor. The Maltese cross itself became associated with the haute horology brand thanks to its resemblance to a small component found in historical mechanical movements that helped regulate the degree of winding and unwinding in order to enhance the watch’s precision.
The collection is also unified by a number of other elements, all directly referencing the 1956 original. This includes box-type crystals that rise well above the bezel, made of modern, scratch-resistant sapphire in the new models, as opposed to the plexiglas and mineral glass used in the vintage pieces.
The collection uses only self-winding movements in honor of the original including one entirely new in-house caliber. And lastly, the collection has sector dials with alternating Arabic numerals and baton hour markers in their chapter rings, enhanced with two separate, subtle tones to their finishing.
In a historic first for Vacheron, the maison is offering all of the FiftySix watches in both gold and steel case variations, though the brand points out that even the latter models will not be lacking in luxurious character, using white gold for their hands and appliqués. Finally, in one notable departure from their 1956 forebear, the FiftySix models have a recessed crown for a more elegant and contemporary case profile.
All movements in the collection sport a new openworked rotor, made of 22k gold with a frosted and snailed finish that evokes the shape of the Maltese cross much like the cases do. All are visible through a sapphire caseback, allowing the wearer to admire not just the rotor but the array of other haute horlogerie finishes, including côtes de Genève, circular graining and snailing.
Vacheron has not stated that this new caliber meets the Hallmark of Geneva criteria, as do most of its other in-house movements. The Vacheron Constantin FiftySix collection kicks off with three models and six references, all in 40-mm cases in either stainless steel or 18k 5N rose gold.
FiftySix Self-Winding: The FiftySix Self-Winding has a double opaline-sunburst effect, gray on the steel version and silver-toned on the rose-gold, and features luminescent coating on the baton-type hands and hour markers. The Mississippi alligator strap, with its half-Maltese-cross-shaped buckle, is brown on the rose-gold watch and dark gray on the steel model and has a calfskin inner shell and tone-on-tone stitching.
A new manufacture movement, Caliber 1326, equipped with a 48-hour power reserve and stop-seconds device for easy re-setting, powers this timepiece. This watch is priced at $11,700 in steel, $19,400 in rose gold.
FiftySix Day-Date: Powered by the Vacheron Caliber 2475 SC/2, here with the addition of the openworked Maltese Cross-inspired rotor, which is fitted with a ceramic ball-bearing rotation system that requires no lubrication and thus helps to optimize the movement’s long-term accuracy.
The dials’ double opaline sunburst effect contrasts with the two snailed counters — one for the day of the week at 9 o’clock, the other for the date at 3 o’clock. A hand-type power reserve display joins these two indicators at 6 ‘clock. The rose-gold model has a silver-toned dial, the steel model a gray-toned one; the alligator straps are brown on the gold watch, dark gray on the steel. This is priced at $17,400 in steel, $32,500 in rose gold.
FiftySix Complete Calendar: This is the most complicated watch in this new collection. The elegantly arranged dial displays the month and day of the week in two rectangular apertures at 12 o’clock, the date by a central blued pointer hand on a 31-day scale, and the moon-phase in a semicircular window at 6 o’clock.
The moonphase in this watch is notable in that it requires adjustment only once every 122 years, as opposed to the three-year intervals demanded by most standard moon-phases. Gold is used here for the Arabic numerals, hour markers, and hands, as well as for the moon disk — and, of course, for the case and buckle of the rose-gold version of the watch.
The watch is powered by the Hallmark of Geneva-stamped in-house Caliber 2460 QCL/1, the same movement used in another of Vacheron’s SIHH debuts, the platinum-cased Traditionnelle Complete Calendar. As in the other two FiftySix models, the steel reference is matched with a gray dials and strap, the gold with a silvered dial and brown strap. The Complete Calendar, $21,600 in steel and $35,800 in rose gold.