It is not often that a large brand launches an entirely new collection, but when it does, it is interesting not just for the models that are introduced in and of themselves, but also for what it may be seen to represent in terms of the brand’s plans.
This year, the major focus for Vacheron Constantin is on their new FIFTYSIX collection, which was officially launched at the SIHH 2018.
The naming of it is a very specific source – the year 1956 during which they released their Reference 6073, the inspiration for this new collection family. The 6073 was a 35mm timepiece with a silver matte dial, applied gold numerals, dauphine hands (all historically classic dress watch features), and powered by the automatic Calibre 1019/1.
The introductory FIFTYSIX pieces consist of a date model, a day-date/ week, and a complete calendar model, all of which are available in stainless steel or pink gold 40mm cases. All the models have a transparent sapphire case back.
We thought we would focus on the latter two models for you, but for the sake of completeness, the base model with just the date contains the automatic Calibre 1326, with a power reserve of 48 hours. It is based on the Cartier1904-PS MC and produced by Richemont’s Manufacture Horlogère ValFleurier, but finished, assembled, and regulated by Vacheron Constantin.
Now, let’s look at the FIFTYSIX Day-Date. This new model uses a new movement, the automatic Calibre 2475 SC/2, which beats at 28,800 VPH and has a power reserve of 40 hours. This movement, as is the case with all of the new FIFTYSIX movements in this inaugural collection, are all finished with the famous Côtes de Genève, circular graining and snailing and a newly designed rotor. The 22 carat gold rotor bears the Maltese Cross applique and a frosted-snail finish. The case itself is 11.6mm, as is the FIFTYSIX Complete Calendar.
As the name states, it has, in addition to the time, day and date indications, in the form of two sub dials dedicated to each of these, but there is also a power indication on the dial. The stainless steel version has a dial of the same material.
Sector dials had somewhat of a small resurgence last year, most notably in the form of fellow Richemont stablemate Jaeger Le Coultre’s reinvigorated Master Control Collection. The FIFTYSIX’s sector-type dial also has a mix of baton markers and applied Arabic numerals. Another similarity is the use of contrasting tones, but the two sub dials overlap the sectors.
The FIFTYSIX Complete Calendar also has a sector style dial, and is also very classically styled, with apertures for the day and date, and the moon phase between 5 and 7 o’clock.
Movement-wise, it also has a new one, the Calibre 2460 QCL/1, launched for the FIFTYSIX collection. It beats at 28,800VPH and has a power reserve of 40 hours.
The Ref 6073 on which this new collection family had lugs inspired by the Maltese cross logo of the brand. The angular lugs of the FIFTYSIX are a nod to its source of inspiration, and the box-shaped sapphire crystal adds to its retro look.
For those who are perhaps unfamiliar with this, the lugs of (particularly vintage) Vacheron Constantin watches are, in fact, something of very particular note to collectors and connoisseurs of the brand as well as the brand itself. You may remember, for example, the beautiful modern rendition of the Cornes de Vache with its sensuous lugs, or more recently, the lugs of the Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942 and 1948 models announced late last year.
At the beginning of this post I mentioned that new collections are of interest because of their symbolic value as much as their watch models. By this I meant both how it is positioned in relation to the other collection families, and how the brand chooses to launch the new watches.
What is interesting about the FITYSIX video that Vacheron Constantin are using on their YouTube channel is that it features faces that may be familiar to those who are already engaged in the ‘watch world’ and has a London West End/ City focus. At the launch presentation at the SIHH 2018, the vibe was very much about this collection bringing in a newer younger audience, and aimed at the male professional city type, and clearly positioned as a new entry point into the brand.
The RRP for each of these launch models are 11,900 EUR and 19,800 EUR for the FIFTYSIX Automatic Stainless Steel and Pink Gold respectively, 17,700 EUR and 33,100 EUR for the Day Date in Stainless Steel and Pink Gold respectively, and 22,100 EUR and 36,500 EUR for the Complete Calendar in Stainless Steel or Pink Gold.