STAR OF THE SHOW
Vacheron Constantin extends the major triad of Fiftysix watches introduced at SIHH earlier this year by adding an octave note above – the Fiftysix Tourbillon
IN JANUARY THIS YEAR, Vacheron Constantin launched its new Fiftysix collection ‒ the manufacture’s third major release in four years following 2015’s Harmony and 2016’s (revamped) Overseas lines. The Fiftysix’s models draw heavily on the aesthetic codes of Ref. 6073, a dress watch Vacheron Constantin released in 1956, hence the name of the collection. This isn’t yet another reissue that’s become part of the watchmaking zeitgeist though. Rather, the Fiftysix is a new collection unto itself, albeit with “vintage touches inspired by the original”, as explained by Christian Selmoni, the brand’s heritage and style director.
The Fiftysix was launched with three inaugural models sporting various small complications. This matched its positioning too. According to Selmoni, the collection is the casual, elegant counterpart to the sporty Overseas. Together, they serve as gateways into the universe of Vacheron Constantin by being relatively accessible vis-à-vis heavyweights such as the Patrimony. Still, there is nothing quite like a statement piece to anchor a collection as its flagship. Enter the Fiftysix Tourbillon.
The Fiftysix Tourbillon
Long a symbol of high watchmaking, the tourbillon is a rotating cage that spins the balance and escapement constantly, ostensibly to average out positional errors and improve precision. While the exact benefits are questionable at best, a wellexecuted tourbillon is quite a visual marvel.
It also demonstrates the watchmaker’s skills in crafting, balancing and finishing the tiny components that make up the device.
Vacheron Constantin is quite accomplished with the tourbillon regulator, to put it mildly. Just look at the Maître Cabinotier Retrograde Armillary Tourbillon, which has a tourbillon that spins on three axes. The Fiftysix Tourbillon’s Calibre 2160 isn’t quite as complicated. This self-winding time-only movement was introduced just earlier this year in the Traditionnelle Tourbillon, and comes with a conventional bridged tourbillon.
Calibre 2160 is the manufacture’s first self-winding tourbillon movement and comes with all the expected appointments. For a start, note how the tourbillon cage is shaped like the Vacheron Constantin’s signature Maltese cross. The device is best examined under a loupe ‒ finishing work on each tourbillon cage alone takes 12 hours, and there is much to see, from flat polishing to internal angles.
On the technical front, Calibre 2160 beats at a leisurely 2.5Hz and boasts an 80-hour power reserve. The movement measures a svelte 5.65 millimetre high, thanks to its peripheral rotor, which is rendered in 22k gold to give it sufficient mass ‒ and torque ‒ to wind the mainspring.
In terms of design, the Fiftysix Tourbillon retains the codes established by the existing models. Gentle curves dominate the case and lugs, and a barely noticeable shoulder keeps the crown protected against accidental knocks. Housed within it is the sector dial bearing varied finishes on each successive ring to keep things interesting, with Arabic numeral- and baton-style applique indexes topping things off. Finally, a boxshaped crystal completes the package for a throwback to vintage watches that still retains elements of modernity.
The Fledgling Line-up
The addition of the Fiftysix Tourbillon brings the line one step closer towards becoming a fully developed one among Vacheron Constantin’s offerings. For now, the new watch sits above the Fiftysix Selfwinding, the Fiftysix Day-Date and the Fiftysix Complete Calendar models that form the collection’s core. Unlike these three watches, which are available in both steel and pink gold, the Fiftysix Tourbillon is only available in pink gold ‒ at least for now. With the high watchmaking and entry level segments covered, there is now a conspicuous lack of mid-complications among the Fiftysix’s models. Having just four models also makes the collection seem rather lean.
Knowing Vacheron Constantin’s modus operandi, however, we reckon more Fiftysix timepieces will make their debut soon. AM
“THE FIFTYSIX TOURBILLON’S CALIBRE 2160 USES A PERIPHERAL ROTOR, WHICH EXPLAINS ITS THINNESS”
The Fi ysix Tourbillon; Fi ysix Complete Calendar; Fi ysix Day-Date; The Fi ysix Self-winding