Making luxury watches more approachable without compromising quality is a delicate art, and one that Vacheron Constantin have been quite successful at in recent years. With the unveiling of their all-new FiftySix collection, they have reaffirmed their commitment to delivering some serious, value-packed offerings. All told, the collection is comprised of six models, three in stainless steel and three in pink gold, and at the entry point of the collection we’re seeing a new and lower starting price for the brand with the steel FiftySix self-winding. This is the first time in a number of years that we’ve seen a completely new collection from Vacheron, and even though it’s coming in at the lower end of their range, it is anything but “entry level”.
The dial’s opaline centre and a sunburst brushed outer ring creates a subtle contrast that varies significantly depending on lighting conditions — the two being separated by a slim white minute track. A mix of applied baton and Arabic numeral indices are used, with a healthy application of SuperLuminova applied to the batons, as well as its hour and minute hands. Date placement is often a contentious issue when brands start playing in more affordable price brackets, though Vacheron remained thoughtful when sorting its final dial design. A small date aperture is located at three o’clock, centred with the aforementioned minute track.
Beyond its dial details, the case design of the new FiftySix collection is just perfect. In recent debate about Montblanc’s beautiful yet pricey 1858 Monopusher Chronograph LE 100, which comes in somewhere north of $30,000, I couldn’t help but think its overall case design and finishing left me wanting (hanging its hat instead on a beautiful green dial and complex Minerva-inspired caliber). By stark contrast, with the case of the FiftySix Self-Winding we are treated to subtle curvatures, impeccable finishing, and simply a detailed level of case execution we rarely see from other brands competing in this price category. On the wrist, with its 40mm diameter and svelte 9.6mm thickness, it’s easy to imagine the Self-Winding in steel as a daily-wearer, which would take quite some time to grow tired of.
Going after this new point-of-entry into the marque is a smart move on the part of Vacheron, who are no doubt chasing the mighty millennial dollar. This kind of move is not without its risks, as it has the ability to come across as a general dilution of brand identity. That said, as long as Vacheron stick to their guns (as they have here) when it comes to not compromising quality for the sake of value, we’ll be happy to see them continuing to pursue this “new normal” of more modestly priced luxury timepieces.
Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Self-Winding Australian pricing
Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Self-Winding in steel, $16,700
|Dial:||Grey, opaline center, sunburst exterior 18K white gold Arabic numerals 18K white gold hour-markers highlighted by a luminescent material|
|Strap:||Dark grey Mississippiensis alligator leather with calf inner shell and tone-on-tone stitching, square scales|
|Movement:||1326 Manufacture calibre|
|Functions:||Hours, minutes, central seconds, date|