Barely nine months ago at SIHH, the world’s oldest watch maison in continuous production, Vacheron Constantin, launched a new pillar collection with the Fiftysix. Consisting of steel or pink-gold Automatic, Day-Date and Complete Calendar models, the latest VC family has a contemporary, fresh feel and ranges from simple to complicated, making it well-rounded enough to cater for everyone from novice buyer to serious collector.
And now, as the collection enters online stores and boutiques worldwide – among them mrporter.com and Harrods – the Fiftysix has stepped into the realm of connoisseur with the introduction of the Tourbillon. A model that will be formally launched in Vacheron Constantin boutiques in January 2019, the Fiftysix Tourbillon will make its global debut on 11 September at a press call held at London’s Abbey Road Studios, celebrating the announcement that Vacheron is now the official timing partner of the music mecca made famous in the 1960s by the Beatles.
In another first for Vacheron Constantin, the after-party for the Fiftysix Tourbillon was held in Abbey Road to a soundtrack by acclaimed Mercury Prize winner Benjamin Clementine. Both Clementine and his fellow musician James Bay, have been announced as new Vacheron partners. Two extraordinary contemporary talents who continue to reinvent their style and sound, both artists epitomise the spirit of the Fiftysix, bringing yet another unexpected twist to the new collection.
Laurent Perves, Vacheron Constantin’s Chief Marketing Officer, says of the pair: “Their work and ours is transcending objects in order to generate emotion. This is the first stage in a broader project involving creative cooperation. These human and artistic encounters are undeniably in line with those that have punctuated the history of the maison since 1755.”
Speaking of the decision to bring the lauded tourbillon “complication” to the table so early on in the collection’s lifespan, Vacheron’s Heritage and Style Director Christian Selmoni said: “With Fiftysix, we wanted to establish a pillar collection, so it was important to demonstrates that the design concept of the Ffitysix can be extended to high complications, too. It definitely has not come too early – it makes perfect sense to have it now, as all of our other pillar collections cover product segments from simple watches to the very complicated.
The tourbillon is a spectacular complication and Vacheron Constantin enjoys the highest reputation for its mastery of it, both technically and from the finishing point of view. The Fiftysix Tourbillon consolidates the collection and, as we have just introduced Calibre 2160 – our new automatic tourbillon movement with peripheral rotor – it made full sense to add it to the Fiftysix family.”
Vacheron’s CEO, Louis Ferla, continues: “The watch industry represents over one billion watches per year, of which only 25 million are produced in Switzerland and barely 500,000 can lay claim to Fine Watchmaking status. Within an already highly exclusive segment, our maison is committed to maintaining a unique and sophisticated character. In this respect, we are resolutely ‘One of not many’.”
In line with the brand’s new communications campaign “One of not many”, the Fiftysix Tourbillon represents the pinnacle of 263 years of watchmaking. Encompassing all of the qualities and values of the maison – both inside and out. Refined details, exquisite finishing, classic watchmaking and beautiful design are all present and mark the watch as a Vacheron Constantin, but the piece feels fresher and complementary to the existing line-up. A contradiction in a 41mm pink-gold case, this watch is a dedication to the traditions and craftsmanship of its past is a given, but this is a tourbillon very much based in the present.
Ultra-slim at under 6mm thick, thanks to the gold peripheral rotor, the 188-component manufacture Calibre 2160 movement has a frequency of 2.5Hz. A signature of the Fiftysix collection, the watch features a two-tone opaline-sunburst dial that is a signature of the collection. The alternating Arabic numerals, hour markers and hours, minutes and seconds hands are all in 5N pink gold, highlighted by blue luminescent material. The large cut-out on the dial, frames the tourbillon to perfection, showcasing the complexity and beautiful decoration on the tourbillon carriage, which takes the form of a the maison’s Maltese Cross emblem.
Already a complete watch collection with a defined set of codes, an haute horlogerie tourbillon-equipped model could easily look out of place, but with the Fiftysix this is not the case. “The real challenge was in the design,” confides Selmoni. “As the Fiftysix is a collection and not a single watch, the design codes have to remain recognisable and not related to one particular timepiece. In the case of the Tourbillon, the designers did a great job: the case of the Fiftysix Tourbillon is one millimetre larger than other models of the line, and is really thin for an automatic tourbillon. It is an elegant and refined timepiece – exactly what is expected from Vacheron Constantin.”
An important final question to Selmoni is whether, with this latest addition to the collection, we can expect to see even more ambitious models in the future. “As Fiftysix will be a core line, there is no limitation, when speaking about movement complexity,” he confirms. When it comes to minute repeaters, for example, Vacheron Constantin was the creator of fabulous, classic pieces in the 1940s and 1950s. In the case of Fiftysix, however, the challenge would be one of finding the right balance between the watch design and the striking movement with its inner complexity. But it’s a sensible combination, and one which has already worked perfectly in the case of the Patrimony.” So, it seems that going forward the Fiftysix collection will become a solid part of the Vacheron Constantin offering with a sound future.
41mm 18ct 5N pink gold; 10.9mm thick; sapphire-crystal caseback, water-resistant to 30m
In-house, automatic Calibre 2160; 31mm diameter, 5.65mm thick; 188 components; 22ct-gold peripheral rotor; 2.5Hz; 80-hour power reserve
Brown Mississippiensis alligator leather with calf inner shell and tone-on-tone stitching; 18ct 5N pink-gold folding clasp in a polished, half-Maltese-cross shape