The Vulcain Grand Prix honours the brand’s award-winning history The Vulcain Grand Prix honours the brand’s award-winning history

The Vulcain Grand Prix honours the brand’s award-winning history

Buffy Acacia

The revival of Vulcain has been joyful for the deep-cut watch nerds out there, as its legendary ‘Watch of Presidents’ Cricket is now once again available for the general public to buy. Coming from the same man who resurrected Nivada Grenchen, it’s clear that Vulcain are dedicated to maintaining their heritage favourites while bringing the quality up to 21st century standards. Given its name you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was a racing watch, but the Vulcain Grand Prix sheds some of the bells and whistles of the Cricket alarm model for a clean, sophisticated style.

The case

vulcain grand prix wrist 2

Just as the Vulcain Cricket causes some confusion over whether it’s referencing the sport or the buzzing call of the insect, the Grand Prix model name might have you thinking about motorsport. However, the “Big Prize” in this context is referring to an honour they won at the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, essentially a World Fair. There were a lot of references, even including a delightful cushion-cased one, but this new model is about as classic as a 1960s dress watch can be.

vulcain grand prix case profile

Most of the vintage watches were around 34-36mm in diameter, but Vulcain stepped things up to 39mm for modern tastes. It’s 12.7mm thick, which may be a little bit chunkier than most people would like, however that may be due to the automatic movement which we’ll circle back to later. The lugs are fairly demure, swooping down to meet the strap without too much width to detract from the dial, and the polished surfaces promise a sense of luxury. The water resistance is rated at 50 metres, and although 100 metres would have been preferable, it’s not altogether necessary on a watch like this.

The dial

vulcain grand prix dial close up

While not expressly a dress watch, the Vulcain Grand Prix occupies that beautiful liminal space of smart casual. The applied indices perfectly compliment the slender hands, each reaching to opposite ends of the markers with precision. The printing is kept as minimal as you would expect from a true vintage watch, with just the sans-serif logo, the model name, and “automatique” above 6 o’clock.

There are three dial colours available, each given a finely-brushed sunburst finish which subtly shimmers in the light. The silver and black dial options are definitely the most versatile for formal wear, however the golden champagne dial gives off the strongest evocation of an original vintage watch. Due to the general cleanliness and case size it would never actually be confused for one, but the inspiration and the reverence for the original is clear.

The movement

vulcain grand prix caseback

I do have one personal gripe with this watch, and it lies with the movement. Vulcain have used a Landeron L24, and I got so excited when I saw that name. I’ve always loved Landeron’s history, and I immediately assumed that the Vulcain Grand Prix was using refurbished vintage movements from one of my favourite manufacturers. However, it turns out that this Landeron L24 has nothing to do with the Landeron most enthusiasts are familiar with. Depa Swiss Movement company has been making Landeron-branded movements since 2018, and the L24 is a clone of the ETA 2824, and depending on whether it’s from Depa’s Premium or Economy lines, may be 100% Swiss Made, or be assembled in Switzerland with Seagull-made components. Still, the 40-hour power reserve and the 4Hz beat rate make fine specifications for a daily wearer, but there isn’t much information out there about the longevity of these movements specifically.

The strap

vulcain grand prix strap

Vulcain offers quite a large selection of straps for the Grand Prix. There is calf leather in black, grey or brown, some with faux carbon weave or alligator patterns embedded, as well as genuine alligator leather in black or brown. There is also a rubber option in a black tropic style, if you want to play up the watch’s sense of sportiness. The lug width is 20mm, so you’ve also got almost infinite options for aftermarket straps should you wish to experiment or get a little bit fancier.

The verdict

vulcain grand prix wrist 1

At CHF 1,190, the Vulcain Grand Prix does have a bit of a conundrum. Actual vintage examples of the watch can be bought for around half the price, and there are quite a lot of charming references to choose from. The Grand Prix also doesn’t have the novelty of the Cricket’s alarm system, so it’s relying purely on its looks and its quality. Fortunately, those are both things that the watch has going for it. The larger sizing defines it as a modern wristwatch with vintage flavour, and many of the actual original watches will require extra servicing costs. If you don’t mind paying the premium, then it’s a beautiful watch to own.

Vulcain Grand Prix pricing and availability

The Vulcain Grand Prix is now available from the Vulcain websitePrice: CHF 1,190

Brand Vulcain
Model Grand Prix
Case Dimensions 39mm (D) x  12.7mm (T)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 50 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Black, silver, or champagne
Bracelet Various calf and alligator leather options
Black rubber tropic strap
Movement Landeron L24, ETA 2824-2 clone made by Depa, automatic
Power Reserve 40 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds
Availability Available now
Price CHF 1,190