Launched two years ago, Vacheron Constantin’s Chronograph Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 felt like a timepiece manifested by the will of watch lovers the world over. A timepiece that had tapped into the collective consciousness and its prevailing fascination with all things vintage, yet executed in a dynamic, modern way. First, there was the size of the watch, which, at 38.5mm, straddled the present and the past perfectly. Second, was the movement: the venerable Lemania CH27 (or in Vacheron Constantin speak, the Calibre 1142), now finished to Geneva Seal standards and evoking the magnificent history of 1940s precision timing. And then there was the design overseen by Vacheron Constantin’s Artistic Director Christian Selmoni and designer extraordinaire Emilie Vuilleumier, the same woman behind the design of the world’s most complicated watch – the ref. 57260.
As evidenced by the ref. 57260, Vuilleumier’s greatest skill is to evoke purity even in a watch of staggering complexity and the design she created for the Cornes de Vache has to be recognised as one of the greatest contemporary works of modern, classic design purism. Each and every detail expresses a vibrant raison d’être, from the Roman indices to the Futura font used in the tachymetric scale, the pump pushers, the sleek baton hands and markers. And then, of course, there are those signature lugs that combine ethereal light reflection with the capacity to express velocity, similar to Constantin Brancusi’s iconic sculpture Bird in Space. Like all great watches, the Cornes de Vache comes alive on the wrist, those same lugs entering into dynamic interplay with the wearer’s wrist.