Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch in steel

Angus Davies gets hands-on with the Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch in steel Ref. 560156D35.BAC135 which charms onlookers with its breathtaking blue dial.

This detailed review of the Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch in steel Ref. 560156D35.BAC135 includes live image, specification details and pricing.

Vulcain 50s Presidents' Watch in steel

Vulcain, the Swiss watch company based in Le Locle, is synonymous with the alarm watch. Its legendary ‘Cricket‘ model employs a high frequency hammer to deliver a rousing mechanical reveille, capable of waking the most determined sleeper. Indeed, I defy anyone to sleep through the high-volume, cacophonous sound emanating from the case of a Vulcain alarm watch. Quite simply, lame excuses for lateness cannot be proffered by the wearer of a Cricket timepiece.

After the Cricket was invented in 1947, it soon came to the attention of President Harry Truman and thereafter Vulcain became a popular choice of wristwatch for several American presidents.

Although the Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch in steel references the aesthetics of the original 1950s Cricket watch it eschews the maison’s iconic alarm function. 

The dial

Regular followers of horological trends cannot fail to have noticed that blue dials are en vogue. They have been for some time and the demand for the regal shade shows no signs of abating. The usual varieties offered include captivating mid and dark blue tones. However, in this instance, Vulcain has delivered a very different blue palette to tempt would-be buyers. Indeed, the colourway of this vintage-look Vulcain timepiece is bewitching.

Vulcain 50s Presidents' Watch in steel

At the centre of the dial, the canvas is presented in the palest shade of powder blue, graduating in tone to a lavender tint near the extremities of the dial. Close to the edge of the dial, the surface tapers away, accentuating the different tonal shades and masterfully manipulating perspective and, in so doing, providing much visual interest. Viewing the dial from an array of angles and in different light conditions grants an array of alternative hues. This is a dial which is fascinating to behold.

The applied hour markers, consisting of batons and Arabic numerals, are delivered in a gleaming silvery form. The Arabic numerals feature three angles, a faceted top, flat centre and a faceted bottom, resulting in contrasting episodes of darkness and brilliance.

Vulcain 50s Presidents' Watch in steel

The hour and minute hands are also faceted, again ensuring that at least 50% of their profile is brilliantly gleaming at any one time. The central sweep seconds hand interfaces with the minute track which is neatly scribed with white markings and Arabic numerals. Everything is beautifully clean and the meaning is clear. Above 6 o’clock, the date is presented in black text against a white background, once again, delivered with superb lucidity.

So often, a dial has its practicality impaired in the pursuit of style. However, with the 50s Presidents’ Watch, Vulcain has created an eye-catching dial vista without marring the ease of read-off.

The case

Vulcain has not doggedly stuck to the past, clearly understanding the predilections of the present-day consumer when it comes to case size. The Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch in steel is 42mm in diameter, delivered in stainless steel and sized to suit a broad cross-section of potential purchasers. Placing the watch upon the wrist provides an unobtrusive, comfortable fit with the arm. Moreover, its relatively shallow case height of 8.60mm ensures that the watch sits neatly below a shirt cuff and does not unduly protrude above the arm.

Vulcain 50s Presidents' Watch in steel

Adjacent the domed sapphire crystal, a slender bezel, made of polished steel, sharply tapers downwards to the caseband where it meets a vertical strip of brushed steel, delivering delightful contrast. Throughout the case, polished steel is mainly employed, hence the said strip of brushed steel tempers matters wonderfully.

A lattice-like motif graces the vertical flank of the crown, introducing another tasteful flourish of style to the case. To the rear of the case, an exhibition caseback provides sight of the self-winding movement within. Interestingly, the blue leather strap which accompanies the watch is very unusual, sporting a graduated blue surface, similar in concept to the striking blue dial.

The movement

The Calibre Vulcain V-56 is a self-winding movement featuring 25 jewels and capable of 42 hours autonomous operation. The frequency of the balance is 4Hz (28,800 vph). The oscillating mass is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif, the mainplate is circular grained and numerous blued screws feature.

Vulcain 50s Presidents' Watch in steel

Closing remarks

While growing up, my mother would always remark, ‘look with your eyes, not with your hands’, an adage which will no doubt be familiar to many adults of my generation. However, when I first saw the Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch in steel at Baselworld 2016, I felt a strong urge to touch it, try it on and appraise its beguiling blue dial at close quarters.

The dial of the Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch in steel is beautiful and it flirts with light to glorious effect. Functionality has not been sacrificed on the alter of style. This is a highly practical ownership proposition with an eminently clear and simple to interpret dial.

The case is charmingly executed and the movement finishing is of a high standard, especially given the modest asking price of $3,750.00

Vulcain will be forever be associated with the Cricket alarm watch, a timepiece capable of stirring the most determined sleeper. However, as the 50s Presidents’ Watch illustrates, there is no need for an alarm in order to confer delight. This is a marvellous watch, equipped with a becoming blue dial and suffused with an array of pleasing attributes.

Technical specification

  • Model: Vulcain 50s Presidents’ Watch in steel
  • Reference: 560156D35.BAC135 
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42mm; height 8.60mm; water resistant to 5 bar (50 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central sweep seconds; date.
  • Movement: Calibre Vulcain V-56, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 25 jewels; power reserve 42 hours.
  • Strap: ‘Gradient blue’ leather strap supplied on a steel pin buckle.
  • Price: $3750 (RRP as at 9.10.2016)

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