Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage

The Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage celebrates the brand’s longstanding relationship with several US Presidents, and indeed, its own heritage. Steve Ashby takes a closer look at what makes this timepiece ‘The Watch for Presidents’.

Image – 50s model in period case (smaller diameter)

When I’m not writing for Escapement Magazine, I lead another life, spending my days working in a marketing role which is both a blessing and a curse. While I love the creativity inherent with my occupation, I can no longer drive past a billboard or hear a radio advertisement without appraising its promotional efficacy. Sometimes I wonder if I could do better myself, while other times I’m inspired to incorporate similar ideas, adapting them to my own trade.

It has also led me to be increasingly cynical. I am sceptical about most types of advertising, and in the vast majority of cases when I see an advert, I can predict 90% of the accompanying terms and conditions.

One marketing tool which I often find patronising is the use of celebrity brand ambassadors. While I am sure there are some famous actors or musicians who have a genuine interest in a watch brand, I never succumb to such celebrity endorsements. Personally, I would never purchase a product simply because a famous individual is wearing it. There is, however, one exception to this rule.

Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage

Image – Present-day Heritage model in the foreground with 50s model in the background

Vulcain watches has its very own historic list of brand ‘ambassadors’. However, in this instance, I am receptive to the brand engaging such individuals for the promotion of its products. This is because they all share something in common, they are all US Presidents past and present.

In 1947, the world saw the birth of Vulcain’s in-house mechanical hand-wound ‘cricket’ calibre, one of the first mechanical movements to incorporate an alarm. The concept was so innovative that it soon found its way onto the wrist of President Harry S Truman and thereafter every American President has owned a Vulcain wristwatch. More recently, the watches supplied to President Barack Obama (2009) and President Donald Trump (2016) incorporated personalised engravings.

Image – Vulcain’s atelier in Le Locle

Therefore, it comes as no surprise to learn that the firm has gained a reputation for producing ‘the watch for presidents’, culminating in the release of the Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage.

The Dial

Seated beneath a domed sapphire crystal, the dial is presented in black, with all other features contrasting in period brown. It’s a simple aesthetic, rich in character while delightfully subtle. It’s the perfect accompaniment to formal attire. Simple Arabic hour markers sit adjacent a minute track, proving ideal when reading-off elapsed seconds. Two small subdials, a 30-minute chronograph register at 3 o’clock and a small seconds display positioned opposite, confer an alluring symmetry to the display. The subdials share the same colour palette as the main dial and are slightly recessed. The addition of a pulsometer scale next to the hour track allows the wearer to determine heart rates between 40 and 200 beats per minute.

Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage

The feuille-style hands are rose gold plated, providing effortless readability. They suffuse the dial with luxury and elegantly contrast with the ubiquitous black and brown colour scheme. Likewise, the hands on the two subdials have been embellished with a similar plating, adding to the overall cohesion of the display.

Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage

The Case

The stainless steel case of the Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage measures 42mm in diameter and sits in concert with the black dial. For the most part, the case and bezel have been highly polished to a mirror-like standard, but some areas of the case and lugs feature a brushed finish, accentuating the gleam of the adjacent polished surfaces.

The fluted crown features elegant cross-hatching on its vertical flank and is located in the customary 3 o’clock position. A single pusher, situated at 2 o’clock, orchestrates all of the chronograph functions, ie start, stop and reset.

For those looking for something a little pricier, this model is also available in 18k rose gold, wonderfully matching the aforementioned gold plated hands. Personally, I have a slight preference for the steel version, however, I think both options look attractive. Each variant is supplied with a black alligator leather strap, complete with steel or rose gold pin buckle dependent on the case material selected.

The Movement

Powering the Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage is the brand’s V-57 Calibre. The movement is based on a La Joux-Perret LJP 8121 MP automatic calibre. It comprises of 105 components, including 25 jewels and will run autonomously for up to 42 hours. The balance has a frequency of 28,800 vph (4Hz).

The V-57 Calibre is visible via a sapphire case-back. It is attractively finished with some surfaces feature palladium coating. Furthermore, Côtes de Genève finishing adorns the oscillating weight and blued screws abound. The rotor also bears the words ‘The Watch for Presidents’, reminding the owner of the Vulcain’s rich heritage.

Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage

Closing Remarks

With the Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage, you have the best of both worlds. The tones of the period dial, rarely seen pulsometer complication and the elegant bi-compax display imbue this model with much character, often lacking with many modern watches. Meanwhile, the 42mm case panders to contemporary tastes, suiting those wearers who may find vintage watches just a tad small.

The Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage sits apart from most other watches because of its styling and its list of exalted wearers. Indeed, based on my time with this model, Vulcain is not only worthy of US Presidents it also meets the expectations of cynical marketing professionals too.

Further reading

Technical specifications

  • Model: Vulcain 50s Presidents Chronograph Heritage.
  • Reference: 570157.315L.
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42mm; water resistance 5ATM (50 metres); domed sapphire crystal to front; sapphire caseback.
  • Functions: hours; minutes; seconds; chronograph with pulsometer
  • Movement: Calibre V-57 (based on La Joux-Perret LJP 8121); frequency 28,000 vph (4Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 42 hours.
  • Strap:Black alligator leather strap with pin buckle in stainless steel.
  • Price: £4,990 including VAT (RRP as at 26.1.2020)

Press loan

The press sample was kindly provided by

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