January 14, 2018
by Bilal Khan
For SIHH 2018, we see the release of the all-new Vacheron Constantin FiftySix watch collection. Three lines are being introduced with steel and Pink Gold varieties: a three-hand with date model; a day-date with power reserve indicator; and finally a Complete Calendar model that has day, date, month, moon phase, and age of the moon. They’re all 40mm wide automatic movement watches, though the simple time and date model in steel with its price of $11,700 will get the most attention. In the same vein of the Piaget Polo S, Vacheron is aiming for a buyer hovering at the five-figure mark (give or take) who wants to breach the gap between Rolex and the brands of the “trilogy” moniker (Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet) which have a typical entry point over $20,000.
The design of the FiftySix collection is inspired by the reference 6073, and I can see that. Unfortunately, this means a safe design that’s neither inspiring nor offensive. This shouldn’t be seen as an attack on Vacheron, as the first sentence in their press material of this new watch collection is “retro-contemporary style for an elegant masculine watch to be worn in any circumstance.” Mass appeal dictates universally mild design choices, and overall I’d say aesthetics won’t be a deal-breaker for anyone interested in the FiftySix by what they see on paper. This isn’t true for the Quai De L’ile 4500S which was a $15,000 steel model of the pricier mix-and-match collection, which required an appreciation of its particular design. I don’t think it really succeeded in drawing new customers to the brand and the name alone somewhat ensured that point.
All three versions have 40mm wide cases, although with varying case thickness. The simplest time and date model (at 9.6mm thick) features a new movement, the calibre 1326 which has a 48-hour power reserve. We will have to wait for hands-on images to actually gauge the finishings, but the exhibition caseback shows off the 22k Maltese cross oscillating weight and Côtes de Genève. The face of the watch has a distinctive sector dial that’s characteristic of the collection as well as alternating Arabic numerals and indices to indicate the hours.
The FiftySix Day-Date watch comes in a 11.6mm thick case which houses the calibre 2475 SC/2, an automatic movement with a 40-hour power reserve. The dial layout is the same with the addition of day & date sub-dials at 3 and 9 o’clock respectively and a power reserve indicator between 6 and 7 o’clock.
Finally, there is the priciest model of the collection, the complete calendar. Sharing case dimensions with the Day-Date at 11.6mm thick, the complete calendar has the calibre 2460 QCL/1 movement. Also an automatic with a 40-hour power reserve, this model has rectangular day and month apertures at 12 0’clock, a central hand to indicate the date on the outer dial ring, and a moon phase at 6 o’clock.
I think it’s clear the simple time and date steel model is going to get the most attention here for pricing reasons alone, and we’ll be able to get more on finishes and how the watches feel in person with our hands-on coverage. All the watches are going to come on an alligator strap with the iconic Maltese Cross shaped clasp, either in steel or gold depending on the model. Price for the Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Self-Winding Steel will be $11,700 and in pink gold it will be $19,400. The Day-Date model in steel is priced at $17,400 and $32,500 in pink gold. Finally, the Complete Calendar model in steel is $21,600 and $35,800 in pink gold. vacheron-constantin.com