Geneva’s oldest watch Manufacture still in operation, 263 years after its creation in 1755, Vacheron Constantin holds a special place in the heart of initiates and collectors. The Maison is heralding a new chapter in its history with its FIFTYSIX® collection. It represents an important new step as this original line, inspired by a historical Vacheron Constantin watch dating from 1956, instils a modern momentum capable of opening up the world of Fine Watchmaking to every enthusiasts.
Inspiration and creativity
FIFTYSIX®. A name and a date evoking an iconic model presented in 1956: the reference
6073. Its design expresses the particularly abundant creativity displayed by Vacheron Constantin during the 1950s. This timepiece is distinguished by its shape – and notably its lugs, each representing a branch of the Maltese cross which has become an emblem of the Manufacture.
The originality of reference 6073, as indeed of all 1950s Vacheron Constantin models, also stems from the contrast between the classicism of its dial and the bold design of its case. A watch that already wove ties between respect for tradition and a taste for innovation.
The golden age of round timepieces, the 1950s represented the pinnacle of aesthetic refinement and remain an incomparable territory begging to be explored.
The lasting impact that reference 6073 was to have on Vacheron Constantin’s history also stemmed from its stature as one of the first watches from the Manufacture to be equipped with a self-winding movement. Calibre 1019/1 was distinguished by its precision and reliability, at a time when most other models were driven by manual-winding mechanisms. Lastly, this model has a special place within the Vacheron Constantin heritage: the case of the 6073 boasted a water-resistant construction (with a multi-sided caseback).
A strong identity
There is a definite sense of kinship – in spirit as well as in substance – between the 6073 model presented in 1956 and the FIFTYSIX® collection introduced in 2018. A number of
1950s characteristics are incorporated into this contemporary heir.
The most striking example of this filiation is undoubtedly the aesthetic nods to the Maltese cross, inspired by the shape of a component formerly found in mechanical movements. A small wheel connected to the barrel of the cover which made it possible to use the most constant section of the spring by regulating its degree of winding and unwinding, in order to enhance the precision of the watch.
More than 260 years of perpetually renewed efforts entirely directed towards attaining the highest standards of quality make this emblem the very symbol of horological excellence. It is echoed by the design of the FIFTYSIX® watches, since the lugs of their cases are inspired by the branches of the Maltese cross. This exclusive shape is bound to exercise a particular attraction on devotees and discerning enthusiasts.
Another bridge between the past and the present can be seen in the distinctive shape of the box-type crystal rising well above the bezel. Historically made from Plexiglas or mineral glass,
it is now in sapphire, a far more scratch-resistant material, while preserving the retro- contemporary look of the FIFTYSIX® collection.
Naturally, both in tribute to the self-winding movement of the 6073 and for the wearer’s convenience, all the versions of the FIFTYSIX® collection, including those with complications, are powered by a self-winding movement, with a new calibre for the three-hand variation. A transparent caseback provides a chance to admire the movement finishing – Côtes de Genève, circular graining and snailing – as well as the new oscillating weight designed by Vacheron Constantin for this collection. This polished and satin-brushed 22 carats openworked rotor, bearing a Maltese Cross applique and a frosted-snailed finish, represents a signature feature of all FIFTYSIX® models.
Gold and steel:
For the first time in its history, the Maison has decided to offer a classic collection both in gold and in steel, while treating the latter material with the same high aesthetic standards as the precious metal. As an example of this, see the use of white gold hands and appliques on the steel versions of the FIFTYSIX®.
One of the collection’s distinguishing characteristics lies in the appearance of its sector-type dial. While the chapter ring, punctuated by alternating Arabic numerals and baton-type hour-markers, channels its 1950s inspiration, the presence on the surface of two subtle tones achieved by finishing effects lends an additional touch of elegance and sophistication. The play of light across the dial gives it depth and a stronger personality.
It is by reinterpreting its own roots that the FIFTYSIX® collection achieves a distinctive style by adopting a crown recessed into the case, thereby setting it apart from its 1956 predecessor, which took a more classic approach to this specific detail.
A collection expressed through three models, each with its own variations:
The FIFTYSIX® collection presented at the SIHH 2018 comprises three 40 mm diameter models available in various steel or gold versions:
• Day of the week, date, power-reserve indicator
• Complete calendar with precision moon phase
The 40 mm-diameter steel or 18 carats 5N pink gold case of this model houses a brand-new mechanical self-winding movement, Calibre 1326, endowed with a 48-hour power reserve
Featuring the 22 carats openworked Maltese cross-shaped oscillating weight, this watch displaying the hours, minutes, central seconds and an aperture-type date indication is equipped with a stop-seconds device.
The movement finishing – Côtes de Genève, circular graining and snailing – can be admired through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback.
Alternating gold Arabic numerals and hour-markers enliven the monochrome dial with its double opaline-sunburst effect: grey on the steel version and silver-toned on the pink gold version. The baton-type gold hours and minutes hands, as well as the hour-markers, are coated with a luminescent material.
This model in the FIFTYSIX® collection is fitted with an alligator leather strap secured by a polished half Maltese cross-shaped steel folding clasp or pin gold buckle depending on the version.
FIFTYSIX® day-date with power-reserve indicator
The day-date FIFTYSIX® with its 40 mm-diameter case in steel or 18 carats 5N pink gold provides additional functions driven by its self-winding movement, Calibre 2475 SC/2. Equipped with a stop-seconds device, the latter powers the day of the week indication appearing at 9 o’clock, the date at 3 o’clock and the power-reserve display at 6 o’clock.
The 22 carats gold openworked oscillating weight visible through the sapphire crystal
caseback is fitted with a ceramic ball bearing rotation system requiring no lubrication and guaranteeing the movement’s longevity.
In keeping with the characteristic face of this collection, this version features a monochrome dial with double opaline-sunburst effect, enhanced by the additional contrast of its two snailed counters. Gold Arabic numerals, hour-markers and hours & minutes hands punctuate the dial of this FIFTYSIX® model, teamed with an alligator leather strap secured by a polished half Maltese cross-shaped steel folding clasp or gold pin buckle, depending on the version.
FIFTYSIX® complete calendar with precision moon phase
The FIFTYSIX® complete calendar model is the collection highlight. Behind the understated elegance of its monochrome dial with opaline-sunburst effect lies one of the horological complications most appreciated by discerning connoisseurs and collectors. The indications of the day of the week, date, month and moon phase are driven by a self-winding movement, Calibre 2460 QCL/1, equipped with a 22 carats 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 122 years (compared with once every three years or a standard moon phase).
The collection’s characteristic dial is graced with two rectangular apertures at 12 o’clock,
respectively indicating the month and the day of the week. The date is displayed by a central gold hand, while the moon disc at 6 o’clock features a blue night sky and 18K gold moons.
A 40 mm-diameter case in steel or 18 carats 5N pink gold; gold Arabic numerals, hour- markers and hours & minutes hands; alligator leather strap with steel folding clasp or pink
gold pin buckle depending on the model: the FIFTYSIX® complete calendar embodies a perfect blend of Vacheron Constantin’s stylish elegance and the sophistication of its mechanical functions.