First Thoughts On Vulcain Dropping The Chronograph 1970’s Into Its Lineup
Blue, black, silver panda, reverse panda, and salmon dials in an authentic re-edition with a 38mm case… Will the Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s get your attention?
I stopped keeping track of re-editions, and I suggest that you stop counting too. They keep coming, which implies that the market is not overfed with them. What really puzzles my mind is the question of why one single car manufacturer hasn’t released at least one of its ultimate car designs as a perfect reproduction — I’m talking old-body curves with a new engine inside. Just for the fun of it, I would like to see some 1960s–1970s Alfa Romeo Giulia GTVs, Porsche 911s, or BMWs come back and observe what they would do to the brands.
Back to watches
A recent interview with Guillaume Laidet from Nivada Grenchen (and Excelsior Park) might be a great starting point for this discussion. Guillaume was pretty clear when Balazs asked direct questions about new models versus re-editions: “Proper re-editions are by far more popular. We cannot produce enough of those. The Chronomaster is the most requested model we have.” Here we are. I am not saying it’s good or bad. The market gets what the market desires. And it seems we will be here with more re-editions in future years.
I didn’t drop Guillaume’s name randomly. As you might already know, the man behind the successful rebirth of Nivada Grenchen is also a consultant in charge of the recent Vulcain collections. And it seems he knows what he is doing to make the brand successful.
For starters, he revived the legendary Vulcain Cricket in its best form. He then followed it up with a skin diver that was a bit unexpected, at least after what Vulcain was doing before placing trust in Guillaume to pivot the current catalog. The fresh release of the Chronograph 1970’s seems to be a natural step in quickly building a truly diverse portfolio. I must admit, I would be impressed if I didn’t know anything about Vulcain’s heritage. Knowing the brand’s vintage pieces better than many collectors, I am amused to see it happening.
Many chronographs to choose from
I won’t even bother to tell you how many times I was so close to checking out vintage Vulcain chronographs. I actually bought one at auction, but I never held it in my hands. A watch friend of mine liked this beautiful “Harlequine” Vulcain so much that I decided to let it go for what I had bought it for. Yes, I have my weak (or strong) moments too. Walking down memory lane, I just realized that Mike has one vintage Vulcain chronograph that is very similar to today’s heroes. Here it is. It’s hard to believe it has been almost eight years since he introduced it on #TBT.
Let’s take a look at what we have here today. From where I sit, the new Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s seems to be similar to a vintage role model, whatever it was. It has a simple dial with an outer tachymeter scale and polished applied indexes. There’s no useless creativity here; Guillaume put all bets on a decent language from the ’70s. Years ago, I developed a soft spot for arrow-tipped hands in sub-dials. I guess the Ordiam Sub 200 and Yema Daytona (or its re-edition, the Speedgraf) are to blame. I have to say that I’m really happy that this hand style also made it into the new Chronograph 1970’s. By the way, notice that Vulcain even kept the “Incabloc” text on the lower half of the dial.
Not boring at all
If something attracts me to this new chronograph line, it isn’t just the vintage style or an arrow hand. I believe what gives the new chronograph’s dial real plasticity and depth it’s the sub-dial design. The circular lining in the middle seems to have a thin ring around it, which separates it from the angled outer track. I don’t believe it’s just the photographer’s artistry. The light reflection of all the new dials seems magnificent, but we will wait for a real hands-on experience to be sure.
The same applies to the case, which houses a manually wound Sellita SW510 M BH. The brushed tops on the flat lugs contrast perfectly with the highly polished bezel. It’s all about the details, and such a gentle touch can transform vintage-inspired pieces into something that has a much more contemporary vibe.
Pricing and final thoughts
I wouldn’t be surprised if Guillaume were also involved in some strategizing. If you look at the price tags of the pieces in Vulcain’s new collections, you will find watches that fit a variety of budgets. You can get the legendary Cricket in either a 36mm or 39mm case for between CHF 3,600 and CHF 4,600, depending on various options. The blue or black Skindiver, on the other hand, can be yours for CHF 1,490. With a CHF 2,500 base price tag, the new Chronograph 1970’s sits just in between, proving the multi-audience strategy. And that’s not to mention moves like releasing the salmon-dial variant in a limited run of 50 pieces.
My first impressions are neutral and leaning slightly toward positive. There is only one last thing to say. Since I just learned minutes ago that Balazs got a factory-fresh sample for a hands-on review, I can’t wait to read it. Stay tuned!
To see all the variations of the Chronograph 1970’s, visit the Vulcain website.