Hands-On With The Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents Watch
Advertised as the watch of the US Presidents, but if you are – like me – not from the US, that’s something I can’t associate with. At least not in the same was as someone who is actually from the USA, I guess. Anyway, despite this Vulcain Cricket is called the 50s Presidents Watch which I hardly can relate to, there are a number of other things that make it a very interesting timepiece:
- manufacture movement
- alarm complication (Vulcain claims a ‘first’ since 1947)
- attractive design
- interesting history of ‘wearers’
The last bullet does relate to the US Presidents (Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson and later ones as well) who wore one of course. For me it isn’t the most important aspect, but it does give the watch a nice bit of ‘magic’ I guess.
The watch I received from Le Locle is the Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents Watch, reference 210150.278LF. I requested this particular one for review as I love the dial colour (charcoal grey) and comes on a nice leather alligator strap. This particular model has the Cricket Calibre V-21 movement, in-house developed and self-winding. The first Cricket watches had a hand-wound movement and Vulcain still offers hand-wound calibers as well (caliber V-11).
Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents Watch Review
A lot of the watches we receive for a review are packed in a travel pouch or plastic retainer, not in the official box. The same goes for this Vulcain Cricket, so I can’t tell you much about it: whether it has some referral to the US Presidents or not. This Vulcain Cricket ref. 210150.278LF comes on a black leather alligator strap and – as written in the introduction – with a nice charcoal grey dial.
A lot of metal on the Vulcain Cricket dial
The first thing to notice is that this is not a small watch. Even though the 42mm diameter equals that of my Speedmaster Professional watches, it appears to be larger. Probably because of the thin bezel and the fact that this is a round symmetrical case whereas the Speedmaster Pro has an a-symmetrical case with lyre lugs and effectively, a smaller dial surface. Big Roman numerals are positioned at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock. At 6 o’clock there is a date aperture with a white date disc wheel and a black bold Font to indicate the date. The dial has thick applied indexes and bright white printing. The Vulcain logo is applied at 12 o’clock and the words are written right above it. Somehow, there appears to be a lot of ‘steel’ on the dial. It might be due to the large dauphin shaped hour and minute hands or the extra hand to indicate the time of alarm, I am not sure yet.
Between the applied hour markers, you see ’10, 30, 50′ written (in white) to indicate the alarm time. The alarm hand in the image above points at 9:30 (both PM and AM). More about its functionality later on.
Although there is a lot of metal on the dial of the Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents Watch, I can’t say it is cluttered or unreadable. On the contrary even. The big hands and large numerals and indexes make it very easy to read the time. The smaller hand with the little arrow (almost like a GMT hand) doesn’t interfere or confuse with any of the other hands on the dial. All hands are nicely polished but have no luminous material on them. Under low light conditions or at night that can be a problem (if you care about this).
Modern sized case of the Vulcain Cricket
The Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents Watch has an interesting case with a lot of details to it. Although it might seem to a bit ‘polished’ and blingy if you look at it from the top, the case band has a wonderful brushed finish. Although the watch looks very round from the top, if look at the side of the Vulcain Cricket, you will see the nice sharp corners and edges in the brushed case band. The case back is screwed on the middle case part and is completely polished. In the left part of the case you’ll find the small corrector for the date of the Vulcain Cricket. The right side has the winding crown and alarm pusher. The sapphire crystal on the front side has a nice ‘domed’ appearance and gives the Vulcain Cricket a bit of a vintage edge.
The photo above shows that the watch from the front looks very round and polished. The crown is unsigned, but has a very nice waffle pattern on it. A bit like the dial of the vintage Vulcain Cricket watches of the 1950s. The watch is very comfortable on the wrist and comes with this black alligator leather strap and double folding clasp. I’ve worn the watch for quite some time and it didn’t need much time to get adjusted to the pusher and crown on the right.
Vulcain V-21 Movement
Inside the Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents Watch is the automatic winding caliber V-21 movement. A beautiful decorated movement visible through the caseback of the watch. Before I will zoom in on the movement, let’s talk a bit about operating the watch first.
The crown has a number of functions. Winding the movement, setting the time and winding the barrel for the alarm. By pushing the button at 2 o’clock. the crown pops out a notch and is ready to have the alarm hand set to the time of your wake-up-all or ‘memo’. As described in one of the sections above, the outer scale (printed in white on the dial) can be used to set the alarm relatively precise. Once set you can push the crown towards the case again and you are ready to go. The alarm will last for about 20 seconds. Long enough and loud enough to make you wake-up, that is for sure. If the alarm goes off, you can see that little hammer moving back and forth inside the watch.
As for specifications, the Vulcain V-21 caliber movement has an alarm and date feature (besides the time) and has a rhodium coating, côtes de Geneve finish, blued screws, double barrel and is 8.4mm thick. The movement ticks at 18,000 vph and has a 42-hour power reserve. The movement consists of a total of 271 components. On the rotor, you will see the word ‘Exactomatic’.
The Exactomatic (patented by Vulcain in 1946) is a development from the manufacture and helps to ensure a more regular amplitude and greater accuracy while being worn. In short, the principe is to equalise the friction on the balance-wheel axis in all positions by having the Incabloc endstones modified. It is an exclusive system by Vulcain.
The Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents Watch is one cool watch. Even without the USA Presidents bit of history – which is an important one for US collectors but also for the brand, I am sure – this is a very interesting timepiece. The Vulcain is more than a pretty dress watch, it has a very neat feature that is still somewhat uncommon. Although brands like Breguet, Panerai, Blancpain, Ulysse Nardin, Graham, Zenith and of course Jaeger-LeCoultre have their alarm watches, it is only a very small part compared to other complications. However, I think it is a pretty nice and interesting complication and definitely adds value. I can imagine having an alarm watch with you during traveling, but for home use and ‘memo’ use I guess everyone uses his or her smartwatch these days. Perhaps when you actually have an alarm watch like the Vulcain Cricket, you will also use it frequently.
Besides the history/heritage and the alarm feature, it is a very nice piece to wear on a daily basis. The alarm complication does have its price of course, because a list price of $9,700.- USD. The Heritage version (hand-woud and no date) has a more attractive price tag of $5,400 USD but is a tad bit smaller as well (39mm). A larger (42mm) hand-wound Vulcain Cricket 50s Presidents Watch is available for $6,770.- USD. A full overview of all 50s President Watch models from the Vulcain Cricket collection can be found here.
Whichever model you will choose from the Vulcain Cricket collection, you won’t be disappointed. It is a great timepiece with interesting complication (in-house developed and manufactured) for daily use. More information on the official Vulcain website.