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 Fi ysix Tour­bil­lon; Fi ysix Com­plete Cal­en­dar; Fi ysix Day-Date; The Fi ysix Self-wind­ing

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