Among the historic Swiss watch brands, Vulcain is probably the one most intrinsically associated with one specific complication: a recognizable mechanical alarm called Cricket that was featured in every single one of the timepieces in its contemporary collection until 2011, when the Le Locle-based Manufacture disclosed a range of classically styled chronographs and automatic timepieces that didn't include the iconic function. Three years later, Vulcain goes a bit further in product diversification – introducing at Baselworld an aviation-inspired chronograph, a new ladies’ watch, a tourbillon, as well as a handcraft-inspired limited edition.
The Cricket still is the flagship model in the classic 50s Presidents’ line and the sportier Nautical range, but the strategy is now aimed at a broader audience under the aegis of the Excellence Holding SA, a group that owns luxury boutique chain Les Ambassadeurs as well as Jaermann & Stübi (a niche brand specialized in golf-dedicated mechanical functions). Jaermann & Stübi shares a part of the imposing 500m2 split-level booth that Vulcain inaugurated last year at Baselworld’s prestigious Hall 1.1 – after a 33-year absence from the fair’s official premises and having spent the last dozen years in a show room at the adjacent Ramada Hotel.
Both the Excellence Holding and Vulcain’s management wish to propel the brand to new heights and the first route is that of diversification. This year’s new releases confirm that goal, starting with a 42mm pink gold Tourbillon watch issued in a 25-piece limited series and featuring an appealing semi-skeletonized satin-finish dial with mirror-polished angles, power reserve indication and retrograde date. The 264-component hand-wound Calibre V-62 boasts two barrels for a 5-day power reserve and a stunning charcoal grey-coat finish to better contrast with the semi-skeletonized dial. The tourbillon bridge, representing a stylized “V” for Vulcain, draws immediate attention.
In the women’s department, there’s a completely new collection christened First Lady – a legacy from the 1920s, when the Manufacture produced various ladies’ models, but also a wink to the 50s Presidents’ line and the brand’s historic ties with US presidents.
First Lady and the Oval Room
Vulcain became famous worldwide for having its timepieces on the wrist of iconic statesmen such as Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon (hence the moniker “The Watch of Presidents” or “The Presidents’ watch”); from now on, any present or future First Lady at the White House or any other home will also be able to wear a feminine Vulcain.
There are six references in the trendy First Lady range, all of them powered by the automatic Calibre V-61 and featuring a refined 37.6mm oval case (another nod, this time to the Oval Room?). The broad range comprises versions in steel on a mother of pearl dial; steel on a mother-of-pearl dial with gem-set hour-markers (39 diamonds totalling 0.056 carats); steel on a mother of pearl dial and set bezel with 58 TW VS diamonds totalling 0.88 carats; pink gold on a mother-of-pearl dial with pink hour-markers set with 39 diamonds totalling 0.056 carats; and pink gold set with 82 TW VS diamonds totalling 1.07 carats on a mother-of-pearl dial bearing hour-markers set with 39 diamonds totalling 0.056 carats. A precious collection that would cause the envy of any First Lady!
A new range taking off
Another completely new product unveiled at Baselworld is the Aviator Instrument Chronograph, combining military spirit and sporty inspiration with an interesting dial display.
Boasting a 44.6mm steel case and two different types of pushers, the Aviator Instrument Chronograph is powered by an automatic Calibre V-59 and is available in six different dial colours (charcoal grey, blue, chocolate, silver, black and off-white).
Symbol of Wisdom
Finally, the dynamism and ambition of the Le Locle-based Manufacture can also be found on the two new limited edition 50s Presidents’ watches featuring the mythological Pegasus on a Grand Feu Cloisonné dial. To salute the opening of the brand’s first boutique in Beijing and honour Asia at the same time, Vulcain is introducing the 50s Presidents’ Pegasus “In The Sky” and Pegasus “On The Mountain”: it is after all the Year of the Horse.
Each exclusive Pegasus model is individually numbered and limited to 18 pieces; the 42mm pink gold case offers a prestigious contrast to the artistry shown on the dial through the Cloisonné procedure of outlining the design and the exquisite Grand Feu enamelling technique based on five layers of enamel to create a lively three-dimensional sense of depth. Both represent the ideal combination between artistic crafts and watchmaking technique, with the self-winding Manufacture Calibre Cricket V-20 embodying Vulcain’s long tradition and expertise in acoustic complications/mechanical alarms.
Vulcain was named after the god of fire in Roman mythology; Pegasus is an iconic creature associated with wisdom, knowledge and inspiration – the Manufacture expects that very same symbolism to guide its present activities and shape a new era.