Retro Re­vival

Vacheron Con­stantin’s new Fiftysix col­lec­tion strad­dles both the vin­tage and the mod­ern by rein­ter­pret­ing a 1956 clas­sic for the present day, writes Jamie Tan

Singapore Tatler - - STYLE -

acheron con­stantin’s out­put in the past few years has been pro­lific, to put it mildly. The Genevan man­u­fac­ture in­tro­duced the Har­mony in 2015 as a fully fledged col­lec­tion, then fol­lowed up a year later with a com­plete re­vamp of the Over­seas line. This year, it has un­veiled yet an­other new fam­ily: the Fiftysix. The Fiftysix draws its in­spi­ra­tion from Ref 6073, a sim­ple three-hand dress watch that Vacheron Con­stantin re­leased in 1956. The col­lec­tion isn’t a mere fac­sim­ile though. “The Fiftysix is not a reis­sue. In­stead, it’s a

new col­lec­tion of retro-mod­ern time­pieces—new watches with vin­tage touches in­spired by the orig­i­nal,” shared Chris­tian Sel­moni, the brand’s her­itage and style di­rec­tor. On the col­lec­tion’s po­si­tion­ing, Sel­moni elab­o­rated, “This is Vacheron Con­stantin’s pil­lar for ca­sual el­e­gant time­pieces. It is de­signed to reach a younger seg­ment of clients who may know of the brand, but not un­der­stand us yet. This makes it a pos­si­ble gate­way prod­uct—an al­ter­na­tive door to the Over­seas—through which they can en­ter the brand’s uni­verse.” In­deed, the Fiftysix’s de­sign will ap­peal to a younger au­di­ence look­ing for a time­piece that is less “se­ri­ous” than the ar­che­typal Vacheron Con­stantin watch, yet ref­er­ences the brand’s long her­itage of fine watch­mak­ing. Across the three mod­els that cur­rently make up the col­lec­tion, one will see var­i­ous ref­er­ences to the man­u­fac­ture’s time­pieces from the mid-20th cen­tury, as ex­em­pli­fied by Ref 6073. The an­gu­lar lugs of the orig­i­nal, for in­stance, have been rein­ter­preted into sculpted ones that blend seam­lessly into the case via flow­ing lines and curved sur­faces, com­plete with a sub­tle shoul­der where the crown sits pro­tected. The box-shaped crys­tal—yet an­other hall­mark of older watches—is also present in the new watches, al­beit in sap­phire rather than acrylic. The sec­tor dial also bears men­tion­ing. Note how this retro dial lay­out has been en­hanced with a va­ri­ety of fin­ishes: a grained opa­line sur­face in the cen­tre, ra­dial brush­ing in the mid­dle, and a cir­cu­lar grained fin­ish right at the outer edge. The ap­plique in­dexes, mean­while, are a mix­ture of Ara­bic nu­mer­als and ba­tons to fur­ther re­in­force the watches’ vin­tage vibes. De­sign aside, the Fiftysix’s mod­els have been priced to be more af­ford­able vis-a-vis Vacheron Con­stantin’s other col­lec­tions such as the Pat­ri­mony. This has been made pos­si­ble by of­fer­ing the watches in both steel and gold ref­er­ences, in what is a first for the brand. The three cur­rent mod­els that are avail­able are also rel­a­tively straight­for­ward with sim­ple to mid-com­pli­ca­tions. The sim­plest among them is the Fiftysix Self-wind­ing, which has a date counter to en­hance its three-hand time dis­play. The watch houses the cal­i­bre 1326, which comes with a 48-hour power re­serve. The Fiftysix Day-date ups the ante by mark­ing the date and day of week across two sub­di­als at 3 and 9 o’clock, re­spec­tively, with a power re­serve in­di­ca­tor at 6 o’clock. The ad­di­tion of two sub­di­als and an in­di­ca­tor to what is al­ready a fairly busy sec­tor dial is no mean feat; one can imag­ine the chal­lenge of main­tain­ing a pleas­ing pro­por­tion be­tween the com­po­nents, es­pe­cially given how they play with light dif­fer­ently. Vacheron Con­stantin has gone one step fur­ther by break­ing the sym­me­try af­forded by the two sub­di­als us­ing the power re­serve in­di­ca­tor to lend vis­ual ten­sion—and in­ter­est—to the dial. Fi­nally, there is the Fiftysix Com­plete Cal­en­dar. This time­piece tracks the day and month via two aper­tures at 12 o’clock, while a blue cen­tral hand points to the date, which is marked on the outer chap­ter ring. A moon­phase dis­play that is ac­cu­rate to 122 years com­pletes the pack­age at 6 o’clock. Such a lay­out is, of course, a de­cid­edly vin­tage way to present a com­plete cal­en­dar’s in­for­ma­tion, with the moon­phase lend­ing a retro touch as well. The dial never feels overly busy though, thanks again to the care­ful bal­ance of pro­por­tions and po­si­tion­ing of the var­i­ous dis­plays. The three new Fiftysix mod­els are all avail­able in ei­ther pink gold or stain­less steel. The ref­er­ences in pink gold are fit­ted with match­ing brown al­li­ga­tor leather straps fit­ted with pink gold pin buck­les, while their stain­less steel coun­ter­parts have dark grey al­li­ga­tor leather straps with stain­less steel de­ploy­ant buck­les. En­thu­si­asts keen on more com­plex com­pli­ca­tions should also keep an ear to the ground—we hear that the col­lec­tion will soon in­clude mod­els with more elab­o­rate me­chan­ics.

AT A GLANCE With both the day and date dis­played on sub­di­als just like old watches, plus a power re­serve be­low them, the Vacheron Con­stantin Fiftysix Day-date sports the busiest dial in the line-up

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