#TBT Back To My Roots With The Shiny Vulcain Cricket
Nothing else in my watch collection is even remotely close to this one. It is the only all-gold (or gold-plated) watch I have, the first and the last one I ever bought. I’d even say it is the dressiest Vulcain Cricket out there.
I got emotional last week. Collector’s Week 2.0 made me reminisce and stirred up some memories of my first vintage watch. I told you how naive I was when I bought my goldie Vulcain Cricket. Sadly, I had no clue there were customs fees involved when importing watches from the United States. However, I could also say “thankfully”, because if I had known, I probably would never have bought it…
Is it my Vulcain Cricket?
Thinking about it last week, I decided to take it out of the shadows and give it some wrist time. In the last couple of years, I haven’t sported it once. My wife actually had a crush on it, and she wore it on multiple occasions. Do you know what fascinates me the most? It’s nothing like me, yet it’s my first vintage watch ever. If you asked me what could have been my first watch, I am pretty sure no all-gold watch would be mentioned. Alas, here we are.
No matter how old you are, how long you’ve been collecting watches, how many watches you have, or how many times you’ve switched your focus, there will always be only one “your first watch”. One person may know for years what their first watch will be. Another’s first vintage watch may be an heirloom or the result of an impulsive flea-market purchase.
Fascination with the mechanical alarm
Honestly, no matter how hard I try, I don’t remember when, where, or how I learned about the Vulcain Cricket alarm. I just remember that it was one of the first watch complications I learned about and that it fascinated me for a long time. As a boy who grew up on $5 digital quartz watches, to see a mechanical watch work as a buzzer left me utterly speechless. I read everything I could find about it. Obviously, the world’s first mechanical alarm watch was the only alarm watch I ever wanted.
A budget decision
At that time, I was not yet a vintage-watch nerd. I had two modern watches back then — a quartz Tissot and an automatic Junghans. Initially, I was aiming to buy a modern Vulcain Cricket. But, if I am not mistaken, prices were about $5,000. That was basically ten times more than what I could afford to spend on a watch.
I didn’t have any friends who wore mechanical watches at that time. Also, I had nobody to talk about watches with. I was stuck reading online watch magazines and forums. After some time, I accepted the fact that the only option to get a Vulcain Cricket was to buy a vintage one. The thing was, there was no one around who wore a vintage watch and could tell me more about buying one. I was pretty afraid to do so, as I had no clue what to expect. At that time, €500-1,000 was a lot of money for me. But, true to my nature, I took a deep breath and decided to face the unknown.
From Chrono24 to watch dealer
The first Vulcain Cricket that I considered buying was one that I found on Chrono24. It was also a gold-plated version, just slightly chubbier, and it had a silver dial. When I look back, I don’t understand my purchase. I never had an eye for gold watches. It was probably just that gold-plated watches were more accessible than steel watches. I got into discussions with a few sellers but never pulled the trigger. You know, I was unsure about a bi-color watch with a gold case and silver dial.
I kept searching. I started to explore more sites of vintage watch dealers around the world. After two months, I bumped into a watch dealer in the US that had this super-shiny Vulcain Cricket listed on his site. After a week of email communication, I made a call and bought my first vintage watch.
A very different Vulcain Cricket
I now own two prime examples of what I call the iconic Vulcain Cricket. They are from the late 1940s, and they have a stainless steel case, generous radium numerals, and a small but clear 10-20-30-40-50 scale ring on the outer edge of the dial for setting the alarm. Here is my full review of those two with a bit of history. Today’s champion, however, is a decade or two younger and, from a visual perspective, completely different.
One of the major differences is the case’s musculature, or, to be precise, its lack of muscles. The case is considerably slimmer, and the lugs are way thinner. The design is very tidy, minimal, and subtle. There are no Arabic numerals at all, neither for the hours nor for the alarm. In fact, there are no visible indications that this is an alarm watch apart from the extra hand with a black tip. To the untrained eye, this Vulcain Cricket looks like a pretty boring all-gold time-only watch.
What I like most about it is the thin crown. It’s signed with a “V” and lightly sunken into the case, only sticking out a bit through the cutout on the side. The alarm activation/deactivation pusher is also slightly smaller and sits closer to the case. The picture above shows the two major setting positions. Crown down/pusher up means that the alarm is in active mode. Once you press the pusher down, the crown pops out, which deactivates the alarm and allows you to set it. I elaborated on the alarm function in my review here.
Every time my alarm went off in the last three days, I was standing next to some random stranger. What puzzled looks I got when they all heard that rattling sound. When I explained that it was a mechanical alarm watch, their looks changed into astonishment and wonder.
Thinking a bit
I never thought of RJ and Mike more than I did last week. I never understood their love for the gold Omega Speedmaster Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Limited Edition. Well, looking at my wrist now, it seems I am not that different. There is something about a watch in full-gold attire. Whatever people think of you when they see it on your wrist, it’s not about opulence, flamboyance, or richness. The uniformity and consistency of material give unduplicable feelings of warmth, vitality, and pleasure. The only contrast that gold needs is just a bit of black.
The timing of this Cricket article is quite special, judging by the fact that Balazs wrote a piece about the surprising re-establishment of the Vulcain Cricket portfolio under the guidance of Guillaume Laidet. This is purely coincidental. I have to say I truly love that Vulcain looked back to its roots and found its way forward after stressful financial news from around 2016. We shall see, but I feel there are bright days ahead for Vulcain.
If I were approaching the market today, I would go for the modern Vulcain Cricket, no doubt. Visually, the latest models are perfect. But as vintage watches became my number-one obsession, I am afraid I will pass on the new Crickets, however much I like them. I will enjoy the warm tones of my decent gold-plated Cricket. If you don’t have any shiny gold sunshine in your collection — and I mean an all-gold or gold-plated watch — you should definitely get one. It’s a completely new experience. Happy hunting!