Vacheron Constantin: the 1950s shine on in watchmaking

A well-born descendant, entirely worthy of a long lineage of watch collections distinguished by fine craftsmanship and the pursuit of excellence, the Fiftysix® was launched in due style at the 2018 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie de Genève. Watchmaking’s good fairies have definitely waved their magic wands over the cradle of this model that is as chic as it is technical, bequeathing it with the best of the Maison has to over. From the 263 years of expertise cultivated by Vacheron Constantin, the Fiftysix ® has thus inherited the watchmaking legitimacy, a design in tune with its times, and a mechanism delivering peerless precision. Without betraying the history and tradition that inspired it, the Fiftysix® nonetheless heralds a new chapter for Vacheron Constantin. Contemporary with a subtle retro touch, this cosmopolitan, dynamic and original collection comprising three models available in steel and gold gets it just right on all levels.

Vacheron Constantin’s teams did not start from a blank page in designing the Fiftysix®. To define its character traits – as well as choose its name – they drew upon an iconic model presented in 1956 : reference 6073. Its atypical design perfectly embodies the abundant creativity displayed by Vacheron Constantin at the time. This historical reference was notably distinguished by the shape of its lugs, each representing a branch of the Maltese cross, the unmistakable symbol of Vacheron Constantin. Another feature that served as a cornerstone in the creation of the new Fiftysix® was the fact that reference 6073 had been one of the first watches from the Manufacture to feature a selfwinding movement – Caliber 1019/1 – at a time when most other models were driven by manual- winding mechanisms. Lastly, the special place this watch holds within the Maison’s collection is also because it stood out by its guaranteed water resistance based on a construction featuring a multi-sided caseback. In the midst of the 1950s, the combination of all these elements contributed to making reference 6073 a paragon of modernity capable of making its way through successive eras and inspiring this timeless collection tinged with vintage charm and yet thoroughly current.

The Fiftysix® complete calendar is the collection highlight and draws all eyes. Its key asset is one of the horological complications most appreciated by discerning connoisseurs and collectors. Nothing could indeed be more practical than wearing day of the week, date and month indications on the wrist, within easy sight. Not to mention the precision moon phase enriching this roster of functions accurately driven by the self-winding movement. Caliber 2460 QCL/1 is equipped with a 22-carat openworked oscillating weight adorned with the Maltese cross emblem. Its construction and its extreme precision mean that the moon-phase function requires adjustment only once every 22 years (compared with once every three years for a standard moon phase). Available in stainless steel or pink gold, this timepiece bearing the Hallmark of Geneva vividly embodies the combination of mechanical sophistication and elegance characterizing the Vacheron Constantin style. From a purely aesthetic standpoint, the Fiftysix® complete calendar offers an effortlessly refined interpretation of the signature features of the historical watch that inspired it. Starting with the reference to the Maltese cross picked up by the case lugs and the “box-type” crystal rising well above the bezel. Historically made from Plexiglas or mineral glass, it is now of sapphire so as to provide enhanced scratch resistance.

Another characteristic of the Fiftysix® complete calendar is the pure elegance of its sectortype dial. While the chapter ring is punctuated by alternating Arabic numerals and baton-type hour-markers creating a retro look, the surface appears on two subtle shades thanks to finishing effects. The aura of refinement and the visual show continues on the other side, with the transparent caseback enabling one to admire the movement finishing. Côtes de Genève, circular graining and snailing create a pleasing contrast with the oscillating weight designed by Vacheron Constantin specifically for this collection. This polished and satinbrushed 22-carat openworked rotor, bearing a Maltese cross applique and a frosted-snailed finish, represents a signature feature appearing on the complete calendar model as well as on all Fiftysix® watches. An additional distinguishing feature for this collection through which the Fifties enjoy a new chance to shine.

How do you explore new fields of expression after 260 years in operation, without falling into the trap of merely repeating yourself ? How do you revisit the past without betraying the present ? With its new Fiftysix® collection, Vacheron Constantin appears to have found the right balance between yesterday and tomorrow. Alongside a favorite complication among watchmaking connoisseurs in the shape of the complete calendar, inspiration and creativity are firmly focused on essentials with the Fiftysix® self-winding model. Available in a 40mm-diameter stainless steel or pink gold case, it embodies all the distinctive strengths of the collection. An elegant round case flowing into lugs evoking the famous Maltese cross, a retro-contemporary look suited to any situation, an original self-winding movement equipped with the openworked Maltese cross-shaped oscillating weight in 22-carat gold… The Fiftysix® selfwinding offers a beautiful interpretation of the iconic reference 6073 launched in 1956. While the Manufacture Caliber 1326 focuses on essential indications – hours, minutes, central seconds, date –, it is also distinguished by its impeccable precision and its magnificent finishing : Côtes de Genève, circular graining and snailing, all visible through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback. Alternating gold Arabic numerals and hour-markers enliven the monochrome dial with its double opaline-sunburst effect : gray on the stainless steel version and silver-toned on the pink gold interpretation. The baton-type hours and minutes hands, as well as the hour-markers, are coated with a luminescent material.

To round off the collection, Vacheron Constantin also unveils the Fiftysix® day-date. Its kinship with the emblematic 1956 model is self-evident. A Maltese cross, a box-type crystal, a sector-type dial and a self-winding movement are all key features of this undeniably Fiftiesinspired model. Caliber 2475 SC/2 drives a multitude of functions : day of the week at 9 o’clock, date at 3 o’clock, power reserve at 6 o’clock… The movement is also equipped with a stop-seconds device. Visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, the openworked 22-carat gold oscillating weight is fitted with a ceramic ball bearing rotation system requiring no lubrication and guaranteeing the movement’s longevity. Lastly, in keeping with the characteristic face of this collection, this version bears a monochrome dial with a double opaline-sunburst effect, enhanced by the additional contrast of its two snailed counters. Gold Arabic numerals, hourmarkers and hours & minutes hands punctuate the dial of this model, teamed with an alligator leather strap secured by a polished half Maltese cross-shaped folding clasp or pin buckle, depending on the version. A retro look based on design codes entirely in tune with the times. A new everyday-wear style signature.

Journaliste spécialisée en horlogerie, la plume de Marie présente les nouveautés tout en s'occupant de la rubrique Architecture.

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