Vacheron Con­stantin debuts its new col­lec­tion at Abbey Road Stu­dios. ThePeak drops into Lon­don to live up the chic retro.

Vacheron Con­stantin debuts its new col­lec­tion at Abbey Road Stu­dios. ThePeak drops into Lon­don to live up the chic retro.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents - TEXT LYNETTE KOH

Jour­nal­ists do not typ­i­cally be­gin the day in the den of a cen­tury-old Sav­ile Row in­sti­tu­tion, down­ing whiskies of up to 60.8 per cent ABV. Not when they are on a work trip, but lux­ury watch brand Vacheron Con­stantin has taken a fresh ap­proach in in­tro­duc­ing its lat­est Fiftysix watch col­lec­tion – bowl jaded writ­ers over by im­mers­ing them in ex­cit­ing, retro-hip­ster ac­tiv­i­ties. And what bet­ter place to do that than at the cen­tre for the dap­per gent: Lon­don.

It is in th­ese elu­ci­dat­ing ses­sions of events that I am swept up. I’m thrown into crash cour­ses in rock-pi­ano play­ing and bar­titsu (that’s tra­di­tional English cane­fight­ing, Sher­lock Holmes style), cul­mi­nat­ing in the un­veil­ing of the brand’s part­ner­ship with renowned record­ing stu­dio, Abbey Road Stu­dios.

Ex­plain­ing this life­style-driven ap­proach, Vacheron Con­stantin mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor Lau­rent Perves shares: “It’s eas­ier to talk about watches in an at­mos­phere that’s friendly and open, and where peo­ple feel com­fort­able ask­ing ques­tions and hav­ing dis­cus­sions. Some­times, th­ese dis­cus­sions lead to an­other topic, and help to cre­ate a link be­tween watch­mak­ing and some­thing else.”

The com­pany is not pre­cious about its time­pieces ei­ther, loan­ing the Fiftysix watches to the as­sem­bled group for a test run over the next two days. The fol­low­ing is what we learn.


Colin Firth is Hunts­man-dressed, the Sav­ile Row stal­wart fea­tured in that cin­e­matic ode to Bri­tish tai­lor­ing, Kings­man. Hunts­man’s se­nior client man­ager, David Gog­gins, leads a tour of the ven­er­a­ble tai­lor­ing house, un­der the glassy gaze of two mounted stag heads, which was in­ex­pli­ca­bly left there by a cus­tomer in 1921.

While sip­ping a se­lec­tion of sin­gle malts in Hunts­man’s tucked­away gen­tle­men’s den, we re­flect on how the art of craft is still very much alive. With the hunt­ing sea­son just around the cor­ner, the tai­lors are busy work­ing – by hand, of course – on sport­ing clas­sics such as plus fours, or trousers that ex­tend four inches be­low the knee. Hunts­man

has long been a favourite with celebri­ties, aris­to­crats and other monied young men about town. Gre­gory Peck, for in­stance, had some 200 gar­ments made by the com­pany. We also see pat­terns that had been made for the late mu­si­cian David Bowie. Ac­cord­ing to Gog­gins, the pas­sion for hand-tai­lored fin­ery has not waned among the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion: Younger folk are not just hav­ing suits made at Hunts­man – they are also ea­ger to work there. (Re­mark­ing on this in­ter­est, Gog­gins shares: “We re­ceive more than halfa-dozen ap­pli­ca­tions ev­ery day.”)

Per­haps, as many lux­u­ry­goods purveyors in­sist, the love for hand­crafted beauty is eter­nal, and has lit­tle to do with age, or shift­ing con­sump­tion par­a­digms.

With the Fiftysix’s stylish mar­ket­ing and rel­a­tive ac­ces­si­bil­ity – prices start at $16,900 for the ba­sic au­to­matic in steel – one is in­clined to think that the se­ries is its maker’s way of reach­ing out to a younger au­di­ence. Perves firmly re­jects this no­tion, em­pha­sis­ing that the in­ten­tion was to cre­ate “a watch that could be worn ev­ery day”. He shares: “One of our clients came to our man­u­fac­ture in Geneva to col­lect a highly com­pli­cated Les Cabinotiers watch that he had or­dered a while ago. He col­lected a Fiftysix Day-Date in gold at the same time. He told us, ‘It’s great be­cause now I have my Cabinotiers piece that I can look at, and my Fiftysix that I can wear.’”

To be sure, the Day-Date is one ver­sa­tile piece: De­spite its gleam­ing pol­ished gold case, it does not feel overly fussy dur­ing the day’s ca­sual ac­tiv­i­ties, while be­ing dressy enough for the next night’s gala event. The watch’s di­men­sions – a di­am­e­ter of 40mm and a thick­ness

of 11.6mm – place it squarely in the ter­ri­tory be­tween small­ish for­mal watches and big­ger, sporty ones. This fine bal­ance be­tween for­mal and ca­sual is fur­ther achieved by aes­thetic de­tails such as its mix of Ara­bic nu­mer­als (tra­di­tion­ally used on sportier time­pieces) and dressier ba­ton in­dexes.


There are gala din­ners, and then there are those held in a room where sound­tracks of iconic movies such as The Lord of the Rings and Star

Wars were recorded. On the sec­ond night of the Lon­don trip, Vacheron Con­stantin toasts its new part­ner­ship with Abbey Road Stu­dios with a gala on the lat­ter’s premises.

A pretty unas­sum­ing, two­s­torey af­fair, the build­ing that houses Abbey Road Stu­dios was orig­i­nally a nine-bed­room house dat­ing back to 1829. It’s best known for be­ing the record­ing stu­dio of choice for sem­i­nal mu­si­cians such as The Bea­tles, Aretha Franklin, Pink Floyd, Adele and Sam Smith.

The evening’s high­light is a per­for­mance by English poet and mu­si­cian Ben­jamin Cle­men­tine (if you ask “Who?” – join the club). Backed by five string mu­si­cians, the lanky, soul­ful mu­si­cian plays the pi­ano while per­form­ing songs such as Eter­nity – the first song co-pro­duced by Abbey Road Stu­dios and Vacheron Con­stantin. Crit­i­cally ac­claimed yet rel­a­tively un­known, the Mer­cury Prize win­ner is one of four tal­ents fronting the brand’s new cam­paign, ti­tled One Of Not Many. The other three cam­paign faces are singer-song­writer James

Bay, mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary de­signer Ora Ito, and pho­tog­ra­pher and ex­plorer Cory Richards.

It’s a win-win sit­u­a­tion. While it can’t hurt the her­itage watch brand to be as­so­ci­ated with such on-the-brink, niche cool­ness, ku­dos to Vacheron Con­stantin too for spot­light­ing tal­ents who aren’t par­tic­u­larly well-known by main­stream au­di­ences, in­stead of go­ing the easy route by slap­ping a watch on the wrist of a celebrity am­bas­sador with a huge ready fan­base.

Says Perves: “What mat­ters is the con­ver­gence of our val­ues, and the fact that they are do­ing sim­i­lar work to ours, which is to cre­ate things through in­no­va­tion and very hard work. For us, that is what’s re­ally im­por­tant, not whether they are fa­mous.” THE FIFTYSIX FAM­ILY CON­TIN­UES TO GROW IN BREADTH AND DEPTH For those who think that the Fiftysix is a sim­pler col­lec­tion for a non-tra­di­tional watch­mak­ing au­di­ence, the lat­est ad­di­tion to the col­lec­tion may fi­nally con­vince them oth­er­wise. At a pri­vate party held at the ex­clu­sive May­fair club Loulou’s – the roy­als Wil­liam and Kate, ap­par­ently, are reg­u­lars – Vacheron Con­stantin show­cases the new Fiftysix Tour­bil­lon, the first ma­jor horo­log­i­cal com­pli­ca­tion in its youngest fam­ily.

Like the other watches in the col­lec­tion, the 41mm, pink-gold time­piece has a slim, yet sturdy, pro­file and gen­tly curved lugs that help it to sit nicely on the wrist. This we as­cer­tain at one point dur­ing the evening, when Vacheron Con­stantin’s style and her­itage di­rec­tor, Chris­tian Sel­moni, plopped him­self down on the plush pink couch to show us the Fiftysix Tour­bil­lon he is sport­ing.

Tak­ing cen­tre stage on the watch, of course, is the large tour­bil­lon at six o’clock. The high­light of the in-housede­vel­oped, ul­tra-thin au­to­matic move­ment 2160, the tour­bil­lon has a car­riage shaped like a Mal­tese cross, the brand’s em­blem. The tour­bil­lon’s hand­crafted fin­ish­ings, such as cham­fer­ing, re­quire more than 12 hours of work to com­plete.

Says Perves: “The Fiftysix col­lec­tion is a full-fledged col­lec­tion, now rang­ing from sim­ple dis­plays to com­pli­ca­tions. For us, it’s never a mat­ter of try­ing to get older or younger clients, but to cover their key needs. In the case of the Fiftysix, we know that there is a need for a watch that can be worn ev­ery day, that can ac­com­pany our clients who are look­ing for some­thing that could be adapted for dif­fer­ent parts of their lives.” Mis­sion most def­i­nitely ac­com­plished.

01 02 01 ONE TO WATCH Mer­cury Prize win­ner and new friend of Vacheron Con­stantin, Ben­jamin Cle­men­tine.

02 GO ANY­WHERE The Fiftysix DayDate in pink gold eas­ily goes from day to night.


04 04 RIGHT NOTE An or­ches­tra setup at Abbey Road Stu­dios, where many fa­mous al­bums and movie sound­tracks were recorded.

05 05 IT’S COM­PLI­CATED The Fiftysix Tour­bil­lon in pink gold.

03 IT’S A DATE The Fiftysix Com­plete Cal­en­dar in steel.

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