The Vacheron Constantin Cornes de Vache is better than time travel The Vacheron Constantin Cornes de Vache is better than time travel

The Vacheron Constantin Cornes de Vache is better than time travel

Buffy Acacia

Vacheron Constantin might not be the most hyped brand of the Swiss holy trinity, and they certainly don’t get as many name drops from rappers. But, the people who look past the price points and the red carpet flexes are almost always going to realise that they belong at the top of watchmaking for good reason. While it’s too subjective a thing to support the claim that the 222 is the best watch ever made, watches like that certainly give them legendary status. Watches like this – the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 – show how in touch Vacheron Constantin are with the lovers of all things vintage.

The case

vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 case

Despite the Cornes de Vache 1955 quoting a specific year in its model name like some of its Historiques siblings, there isn’t one exact reference which this watch is recreating. Rather, the case takes its inspiration from the Vacheron Constantin reference 6087 from 1955, and the rest comes from a blend of classical styles. It’s the case which gives this watch both its name and character however, so that’s where the focus is drawn. “Cornes de vache” is French for cow horns, and you can easily see where that moniker came from. It doesn’t take much of a change from standard shapes to make an obvious difference, and the curvature of the horned lugs instantly imparts a grander atmosphere. It’s reminiscent of Victorian furniture, like the legs you might find on an ornate chaise lounge.

vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 case profile

Given the visual volume of the lugs, Vacheron Constantin have been clever to play the rest of the case subtly. The bezel is relatively slim and polished, as is the 10.9mm-thick profile of the flat-sided case. The pushers and crown are neither too small nor too big, and the 38.5mm diameter is enough of a contemporary upsizing without losing its vintage charms. It’s also a good thing that the case isn’t any bigger, because the 47.4mm lug-to-lug width is right in the Goldilocks zone for a majority of wrists. Of course, you shouldn’t expect much water resistance with a case like this, and the tokenistic label of 30 metres implies that you should be careful around fluids. Here, in its 18k rose gold form, the 85-gram weight feels appropriately luxurious on the arm.

The dial

vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 dial

If you go browsing for 1950s chronographs, you’re going to see a lot of similar dials to this one, but none quite as precisely executed or as pristinely clean. Perhaps age and wear is a factor which you’d like to see on your watch dials, but here it’s easy to imagine opening up a Vacheron Constantin box way back in the ‘50s and feeling like you’re on top of the world. The crisp white backdrop gives the whole dial a lovely openness, backed up by the space which is allowed by the thin bezel. There’s clear definition between the black and blue printed markers, with the black minute markers there for timekeeping and the blue track as the chronograph’s tachymeter.

The time and chronograph are differentiated by that colour separation too, which is a deft touch. The gold hour and minute hands point to the applied gold hour markers, and the running seconds subdial is also appointed with a gold hand. Meanwhile, the central chronograph hand and the 30-minute counter are both heat-blued, matching the tachymeter. It’s the details like that which puts the Cornes de Vache into the upper echelon of watchmaking, rather than just a high-quality watch from a respected brand.

The movement

vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 movement caseback

When people spend a few hundred dollars on a watch with a Seagull ST1901 movement, this Vacheron Constantin is what they’re really trying to get just a tiny taste of. The Calibre 1142 is a masterpiece of a hand-wound chronograph by any standard, mainly for its finishing and beauty rather than any kind of crazy complication. And just like some of the great chronographs of old, the 1142 carries Lemania heritage, being essentially a 2310 produced in-house by Vacheron Constantin. You can watch the column wheel actuator twist as you use the pushers, and catch glimpses of light bouncing around the hand-polished bevels on the edges of components. Some are brushed, some are given Geneva stripes, but all are done to a degree of excellence which has earned the Geneva Seal. In terms of specifications, the 48-hour power reserve and the 3Hz beat rate aren’t all that impressive, but that’s not what the Vacheron Constantin Cornes De Vache is trying to be.

The strap

vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 strap

It can be funny to focus in on something as simple as a strap with a watch like this, but the Cornes De Vache does have some tasteful appointments worth noting. The grey-brown alligator leather is perfectly suited to the warm tones of the rose gold, from which the buckle is also made featuring Vacheron Constantin’s Maltese cross logo. My personal favourite touch are the curved spring bars, which help leather straps to look so much more at one with circular cases and almost appear integrated. Should you want to swap the strap out though, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding other options thanks to the 20mm lug width. A grey leather could look incredible here, or even something in suede.

The verdict

I definitely don’t need to sing the praises of Vacheron Constantin too loudly, because their reputation stands for itself. The Cornes De Vache 1955 simply shows their depth of understanding in their own vintage models, and what specifically makes them appeal to contemporary audiences. With all of the tweaks and updates we expect of a modern watch, this could very easily become the dress watch grail of whoever sees it in the metal.

Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955 pricing and availability

The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955 is now available from Vacheron Constantin retailers. Price: A$107,000

Brand Vacheron Constantin
Model Historiques Cornes De Vache 1955
Reference Number 5000H/000R-B059
Case Dimensions 38.5mm (D) x 10.9mm (T) x 47.4mm (LTL)
Case Material 18k rose gold
Water Resistance 30 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Dial White
Strap Brown alligator leather, 18k rose gold Maltese cross buckle
Movement Calibre 1142, Lemania 2310 base, produced in-house, manual winding
Power Reserve 48 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph
Availability Available now
Price A$107,000