A Look Inside The Vacheron Constantin's FIFTYSIX
For watch lovers worldwide, Vacheron Constantin is a luxury brand that requires no introduction. Operating for 253 years, Vacheron is the oldest watch brand with a rich heritage that fuels its presence in today’s market. Constantly reinventing their pieces to evolve with time and the needs of the present, the juxtaposition of these two elements, is what makes Vacheron the brand it is today.
As their new launch Fiftysix approaches, I sit down with the brand director, Alexander Schmiedt who is passionate about the new collection. Fiftysix is an important launch for Vacheron, he says, as new collections are rare. Steeped in history, it brings back the best of the 1950s, a time marked by easy-to-wear and elegantly designed watches, merging with the modern expectations of watchmaking lovers. And this is what Vacheron does best.
Watchmaking is a tale of two sides: the technical and functional details, which include the movement and quality of the watch, coupled with the aesthetic finish— which of course is the visual appearance. The harmonious marriage of these two elements is paramount, and Vacheron watches exemplify this. The Fiftysix collection began with a timepiece from 1956 which was of high quality technical innovation, water resistant, Super-LumiNova (for night vision) and automatic (which was very rare at that time)— but with a very strong quirky design. The vision was to take inspiration from this piece and bring it up-to-date. While this may sound simple to the untrained eye, it can be quite a challenge; if the changes are too subtle, clients may question the reason for the upgrade, but if it’s too advanced, the original inspiration is lost.
After 250 years of history, Vacheron has perfected their art, and has the experience of walking these fine lines to create a timepiece that is inspired and yet new. The Fiftysix collection watches boast a modern vintage two-toned dial with clean classic lines with a vintage looking glass box on the case— made of scratch resistant sapphire crystal (not plexi as in the past). The collection is automatic like the original piece, but with hand-finished movement.
Today the concept of men’s and ladies watches don’t exist anymore. While of course there are pieces that are more feminine, women are lucky to have the freedom to wear any watch they choose. The Fiftysix collection is launching in gold, but for the first time, in stainless steel as well. While this may seem to be a downgrade, stainless steel is becoming more recognized (even by watch-making connoisseurs) due to the usability of the material, but also because in certain regions a man will not wear gold (especially in the Middle East). The beauty of it is that the same watch, with the same level of quality and finishing, can have a completely different style. Some may say that it's even a bit more stylish, while the gold piece is slightly more traditional.
While complications in life can be distracting, in watchmaking, the details add value to the finished product— the more intricacies achieved with mechanics, the better. The pinnacle of the Fiftysix collection is the tourbillon— a mechanism that is one of the most complicated elements in watchmaking. In the past, this was needed for the functionality of the watch, but today it is a sign of classical fine watchmaking (and very rare for automatic watches). The transparent rotor allows you to see the beautiful design and movement of more than two hundred individual components that is often concealed in automatic watches. This mechanism increases the price of a watch to approximately $100-110,000 USD.
But not every customer can invest in a timepiece of this caliber. Vacheron presently offers ten collections, each with their own unique vibe. Among these, the Traditionnelle collection is created with ultra-classical fine Geneva watchmaking, with a very traditional look that is almost reduced to an understatement, while the Overseas collection is a sporty elegant line with a spirit of travel, that is versatile, and offers the option to change the strap mechanism.
The Fiftysix collection is classic, but with a vintage modern feel. It is less conservative and classical than the Patrimony collection (stylistic purity), much less sporty than Overseas, and it is available in both in stainless steel and gold, placing it in a completely different category. With the same level of quality, finishing, execution and performance, as any other Vacheron watch, the Fiftysix collection offers a new choice of style to Vacheron customers. Collections may be adjusted with certain models being added and some moving out of the collection, but a collection always lives on, with a level of quality that is never compromised.
Vacheron is constantly working to provide more of a selection for their clients, a choice which they believe is both relevant and timeless.