Hands-On With The Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s
A few weeks ago, Vulcain presented its latest and greatest, the Chronograph 1970’s. A re-edition of a model from the past, this watch is a classic gem reborn. It has all the attributes that vintage fans love — a round case, pump pushers, 3-9 chronograph sub-dials, and five variations to choose from. The question is: can the Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s be viewed as a modern piece? Well, I’m not the right person to answer that, but I’ll still give my best shot in this article.
Yes, I am a vintage guy at heart, and I can appreciate the watch from this perspective. It would be silly of us to think that in 2023 a brand like Vulcain is aiming for this niche group. The timepieces must meet modern standards. I firmly believe that the Chronograph 1970’s does, and here are the reasons why.
Many people list the size as the number one reason for not wearing a vintage watch. Older timepieces, even chronographs from the ’50s, ’60s, or ’70s, were smaller than today’s watches, and many think they look odd on their wrists. Fair enough. There was a shift in the ’70s, but for the most part, the classic and somewhat dressy watches wouldn’t go over 37mm. Most vintage Vulcain chronographs were the same, with 36–37mm round cases and pump pushers. They were lovely pieces but hardly substantial in size. The new Chronograph 1970’s, on the other hand, has a 38.3mm case, so still not oversized. That would not work with this design, but trust me, that 1mm+ makes a big difference (no pun intended), especially in this day and age when we see the industry rationalizing watch sizes. Just think of Tudor and its new releases from Watches and Wonders.
The Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s is not the brand’s first re-edition. We have seen some of its iconic vintage models being re-released in the past year or so. Most of them, albeit larger, still were in the sub-40mm range. So it comes as no surprise that this model is only about 38, but due to the thick bezel and the rehaut, the watch visually looks more prominent than the numbers suggest. Would it work on the wrist of a modern watch lover, though? Size-wise, it definitely would. I wore the watch in the office for a few days and received several compliments and questions about it. Granted, these guys pay close attention to timepieces, but still, it was interesting to see how many of them loved this one. And no, not all of them are vintage heads like me.
Five times the charm
A great watch case in itself does not guarantee success. After all, when we pick up a watch, we first look at the dial. Luckily, the new Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s comes in five dial variations. Since the launch of our Fratello × Nivada Grenchen Racing Chronograph, we are sure that you guys love to pick a dial design that works for you the most. Well, with this watch, you can get dials in salmon, all-black, black or blue reverse panda, and the regular panda seen here.
This panda dial is silver with black registers, and I love it. It’s clean, easy to read, and, importantly, not overcrowded with text. It just says “Vulcain” and “23 jewels” on the top and “Incabloc” and “Swiss Made” on the bottom. The look is classy and straightforward, as you’d expect from a re-edition. There are lume pips at the end of the applied indices, and the hands are also lumed, so it does have the elements of a watch from a bygone era. It also features a double-domed sapphire crystal with an antireflective coating and an enlarged overall size to suit modern tastes.
We talked about the diameter, but that’s not all. As the Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s has a hand-wound movement, the case is also fairly thin. Contrary to the Vulcain website’s listed 12.4mm measurement, I measured 12.9mm. No, 0.5mm is not much, and perhaps my calipers are too sensitive. Plus, the diameter and thickness often mean nothing if we don’t know the length from lug tip to lug tip; this puts the overall size into perspective. In the case of the Chronograph 1970’s, it’s 46.3mm. Due to the long lugs, the piece wears well and is more extensive on the wrist than expected. Often, a round case’s diameter accounts for most of the size, and the lugs are short, sometimes making the watch look gimmicky. That’s not the case here, and the overall visual balance is excellent. I truly enjoyed wearing it daily, and it did not feel uncomfortable at all.
Manually wound, just as it should be
One mistake brands often make when creating a re-edition is trying to make it fit current needs. These are, however, not “needs” the consumers have but what the brand thinks they do. I’m sure you know what these “needs” are in most cases. They make the watch automatic and add a date function, which often ruins the allure of a refined reinterpretation. Luckily, the Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s has no added date window, and the movement is also manually wound. Inside the case beats Sellita’s SW510 M BH b, featuring a 63-hour power reserve and a 28,800vph frequency. This is a standard but well-constructed, Swiss-made chronograph movement and an industry favorite that many brands use.
Sure, I can tell you all about the watch, the size, and the feel on the wrist. In the end, though, there’s only one rule: you need to like it. As a vintage lover, the Vulcain Chronograph 1970’s is undoubtedly something to consider if the overall design speaks to you. For those of you who are into newer timepieces and can get past the design, I feel the watch offers you enough to qualify as modern. I will not get into the nitty-gritty, but I can assure you that this timepiece is as contemporary as any other on the market today.
It’s worth mentioning that the salmon-dial version is limited to only 50 pieces, while the panda version here is limited to 100. Regarding strap options, there are a few to choose from, but since this watch’s introduction on March 22nd, some options have become unavailable. The Chronograph 1970’s has a price of CHF 2,500 (approximately €2,535), and I think that is fair. While it’s not on the cheap side, for what you are getting, I believe that this watch is well worth the money. To see all of the options currently available, please visit the official Vulcain website.