As a brand that is synonymous with the famous Cricket alarm watch, Vulcain is no stranger to producing sound-generating timepieces, and a fairly wide assortment of different Cricket models have been created throughout the years. While most people think of the Vulcain Cricket as a relatively dressy timepiece with a long history of being gifted to United States presidents, there have also been a number of more function-forward models based upon the brand’s signature Cricket platform. As its latest new release of 2023, Vulcain has dipped into its archives and created a modern rendition of the Cricket Nautical from 1961, which was a unique version of the brand’s alarm watch that was specifically designed for the world of scuba diving.
While the Vulcain Cricket itself was first introduced in 1947, the Cricket Nautical didn’t arrive until nearly a decade and a half later in 1961. To design the Cricket Nautical, Vulcain collaborated with thee experts: Hannes Keller, a Swiss physicist/mathematician and deep-sea diver; Max-Yves Brandily, an explorer and filmmaker; and Arthur Droz, a national certified diving instructor and representative of the C.I.A.S (Centre d’Investigations et d’Activités Sous-Marines – Center for Underwater Investigations and Activities). The end result was the Vulcain Cricket Nautical, which was a purpose-built wristwatch with an audible underwater alarm that also featured a system for determining no-decompression limit dive times built right into its dial. Keller would go on to wear the Vulcain Cricket Nautical during his record-setting dive to nearly 250 meters, which was witnessed and validated by Jacques Cousteau himself, thus proving the Cricket Nautical’s underwater capabilities.
From a general aesthetic standpoint, the new Vulcain Cricket Nautical follows many of the same core design codes that were established by the original 1960s version. Rather than featuring an external rotating timing bezel like the vast majority of other dive watches, the Cricket Nautical features a simple smooth fixed bezel, which it pairs with two crowns and a pusher that all stick out from the right-hand side of its case. Despite having a fairly technical dial, the overall appearance of the Vulcain Cricket Nautical is significantly more refined compared to a watch with an external timing bezel. Despite this, it still offers users a rather generous 300 meters of water resistance, meaning that is should be more than capable of actually being used for its intended purpose.
Crafted from 316L stainless steel, the case of the new Cricket Nautical measures 42.2mm in diameter. Due to its domed crystal and chunky “Triple Case Back” design that acts as resonator chamber for the alarm, the overall thickness of the watch comes in at 17.35mm. Additionally, based on the press release and included images, it appears that the new Vulcain Cricket Nautical will be available with either a sapphire or acrylic crystal. Buyers will also have the choice of whether they want their watch to have the classic resonator “Triple Case Back” or a exhibition caseback with a stylized V-shaped structure running below the clear sapphire display window.
The dial of the Vulcain Cricket Nautical consists of a fixed outer ring with a rotating internal section, which is controlled by the additional screw-down crown located on the side of the case at 4 o’clock. The markings on the internal section of the dial are used for determining decompression times, and depending on the dive duration and depth displayed by the dial, the rectangular aperture on the internal section will show the stop times required at the typical depths of three, six, and nine meters when ascending back to the surface. Meanwhile, just like other Cricket models, the Vulcain Cricket Nautical features four centrally-mounted hands, with the fourth hand featuring a red arrow-shaped tip dedicated to the time for the alarm.
Similar to its approach with crystals and casebacks, Vulcain offers the new Cricket Nautical with two different dial options, although both are black in color and have an identical overall design and layout. While one version features faux-aged lume and has a dial with a green minute track, the other features regular white Super-LumiNova on its hands and hour markers, and it has a blue minute track printed along the periphery of the interior section of its dial. Given the relatively small size of the minute track, the color of the lume is arguably the most significant difference between the two variations of the Vulcain Cricket Nautical. It’s nice to see that both versions are offered, given how many people seem to have strong opinions regarding the topic of “fauxtina” on modern watches.
Powering the Vulcain Cricket Nautical is the brand’s manufacture V-10 manually-wound alarm movement. Running at a frequency of 18,000vph (2.5 Hz) with a power reserve of 42 hours, the 165-component movement displays the time with central running seconds, and its signature programmable mechanical alarm will ring for approximately 20 seconds once activated. Decorated with a nickel finish on the bridges and blued screws, the V-10 movements fitted to the display caseback versions of the Cricket Nautical also feature skeletonized ratchet wheels to provide them with a slightly more dynamic and elevated overall appearance.
Both dial versions of the new Vulcain Cricket Nautical include two straps. The first is made from black leather, while the second is a water-resistant option that offers a carbon fiber appearance. Both straps feature stainless steel pin buckles that are signed with Vulcain’s V-shaped logo. Based upon what can be seen in the included press photos, the two straps also include integrated quick release springbars to make swapping back and forth between them a simple and tool-free process. With that in mind, since the two included straps are both largely black in color and offer a fairly standard two-piece design, owners will still need to dabble into third-party options if they want to significantly switch up the look and feel of their Cricket Nautical watches.
While some watches that generate sound rank among the most expensive timepieces available, alarm watches are typically significantly more affordable than their music box or repeater siblings. Consequently, the new Vulcain Cricket Nautical is accompanied by an official retail price of $4,862 USD, with the rather strange number being a result of the conversion from its original price in Swiss Francs (CHF 4,200). Given the additional water resistance and functionality offered by this purpose-built diver’s version of Vulcain’s signature alarm watch, it would be reasonable to assume that the new Cricket Nautical is a bit more expensive than other current-production Cricket models. However, it costs more-or-less the exact same, coming in right between the retail prices for the 36mm and 39mm versions of its dressier alarm-equipped Cricket siblings. While this is still hardly a small sum to spend on a wristwatch, it ultimately doesn’t seem at all unfair given that you are getting a mechanical alarm watch with a 300-meter depth rating. For more information on the Vulcain Cricket Nautical, please visit the brand’s website.