Watchmaking at Vacheron Constantin is always about elegance, eminence and exclusivity, and the new FiftySix collection is no exception. Launched in January at this year’s SIHH, it comprises three core models: an hours-minutes-seconds, a triple calendar with moon phases, and a day-date with power reserve. That alone, however, is not news. What makes the FiftySix collection news, is that each model is available in both stainless steel and pink gold, making the FiftySix line Vacheron Constantin’s first classic collection that offers steel pieces on a permanent basis.
Each model is available in both stainless steel and pink gold, making the FiftySix line Vacheron Constantin’s first classic collection that offers steel pieces on a permanent basis.
And why is that important? Ask any watch retailer around the world and they’ll tell you that 60 to 70 per cent of their business is built on steel watches. Until the FiftySix, Vacheron Constantin only had the Overseas because everything else—the Patrimony, the Traditionnelle, the Malte, and the Harmony—was all gold and platinum only. Indeed, the core business for Vacheron Constantin was mid and high complications in gold and platinum. While that is great for the manufacture’s bottom line, the side effect is that it’s not so great for market domination. Thankfully, Vacheron Constantin is not—and does not aim to be—in the volume business.
Says CEO Louis Ferla, “Vacheron Constantin is a part of the few maisons of haute horlogerie that many have called the Holy Trinity of watchmaking. Within these maisons, we produce the least in terms of quantity and we want to keep it this way. The aim is not to produce large numbers of watches, but rather, to produce exceptional watches.”
The inclusion of steel models in the FiftySix collection thus was not so much for the sake of moving stock in large volumes, but to have that offer for customers who are looking for an elegant Vacheron Constantin timepiece in this case material. Ferla continues, “Do we need to be present in the steel segment? Yes. Do we want it to become our main business? No. But we need to have that offer. We have sold in 10 days what we projected to sell in a month, and the verdict is that gold is just as popular as steel. You could imagine more clients buying steel pieces but the truth is, we have a very good balance there.”
"Gold is just as popular as steel. You could imagine more clients buying steel pieces but the truth is, we have a very good balance there.” — Louis Ferla, CEO of Vacheron Constantin
What makes the FiftySix collection so true to the DNA of Vacheron Constantin is its retro-contemporary style, the fine watchmaking touches both within and without, and that indelible link to one of the most memorable chapters in the manufacture’s 263-year-long history.
The FiftySix traces its roots back to the year 1956 when Vacheron Constantin made a slim round watch they named Reference 6073. This model had a very interesting design for the four lugs which is essentially four branches of the Maltese Cross, which in turn is the manufacture’s brand emblem.
Reference 6073 was also among the very first Vacheron Constantin timepieces to be powered by a self-winding movement.
The FiftySix traces its roots back to the year 1956 when Vacheron Constantin made a slim round watch they named Reference 6073.
For these reasons, the current FiftySix watches all feature this unique lug design albeit in a subtler form, and are strictly powered by self-winding movements only. In addition, the oscillating weight comes with an open-worked design prominently featuring the Maltese Cross.
Two other things that define the FiftySix collection: The box-type crystal and the sector-type dial. Both these features are redolent of 1950s style watchmaking. Finally, the indexes and hands are all enhanced with Superluminova.
Espousing all the definitive features of the Reference 6073 as well as the characteristics of 1950s style watch design, the new FiftySix Tourbillon is the latest addition to the collection and its first major horological complication.
Unveiled in London where Vacheron Constantin hosted a grand gala evening at the legendary Abbey Road Studios, this gorgeous timepiece comes with an ultrathin self-winding movement that’s only 5.65mm thick.
Calibre 2160, one of the newest movements made by Vacheron Constantin, debuted at this year’s SIHH alongside the new Traditionnelle Tourbillon. It packs an impressive 80-hour power reserve while the leisurely 2.5-hertz frequency affords an amazing view of the balance and spiral.
The new FiftySix Tourbillon is the latest addition to the collection and its first major horological complication.
The Maltese Cross continues to figure strongly in this model, as it is observed in the lugs and the tourbillon carriage instead of the oscillating weight. Through the sapphire case back, you might think at first that there’s no oscillating weight here but there is one. Calibre 2160 uses a peripheral oscillating weight in 22K gold so that every surface of the beautifully finished movement is unblocked from view.
Also, unlike the other models, the FiftySix Tourbillon is only available in pink gold—for now. Priced at $174,000, it will be available exclusively at Vacheron Constantin boutiques from April 2019.
The Vacheron Constantin FiftySix collection will be in Singapore from 17th to 23rd October. See the pieces at the maison's One Of Not Many exhibition, which is happening at The Paragon Atrium daily from 11am to 9pm.