Vulcain Aviator Instrument Cricket

Angus Davies reviews the Vulcain Aviator Instrument Cricket, a pilot’s watch featuring a world time complication and highly audible mechanical alarm.

This detailed review of the Vulcain Aviator Instrument Cricket includes live images, specification details and pricing.

Vulcan_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_Wrist - ESCAPEMENT watch magazine by Angus Davies

It is with a sense of melancholy that I look out of my office window and see the skies above, raining, once again, on another winter’s day. I long for the warm embrace of summer sun, imparting a flush to my cheeks and eliciting a spring to my step.

I have always preferred the summer season and hold many fond memories of holidays abroad, frolicking on the beach. My recollections are punctuated with consuming unfamiliar foods, dancing to songs delivered in foreign tongue and hearing the industrious sounds of crickets at night.

Male crickets rub their wings together at night to invite female attention, making a disproportionately loud sound in the process. This particular characteristic provided the inspiration for the naming of an alarm watch, first released in 1947, by Swiss watch company, Vulcain. To some, the sound of the small insects is hypnotic and soothing, whilst conversely, to others, it can prove irritating.

Where the Vulcain Cricket has earned an enviable reputation within the horological landscape is the sheer magnitude of the sound produced. Quite simply, there is little prospect of failing to hear the highly audible sound of the alarm ringing. In terms of the character of the sound produced by the alarm, it could not be described as mellifluous. However, in many respects this is the desired role of the alarm, namely to call the wearer to action. Moreover, despite having worn several other alarm watches over the years, I have never encountered a watch alarm which delivers such incredible amplification.

Recently, I placed an interesting variant of the Cricket upon my wrist, the Vulcain Aviator Instrument Cricket. This timepiece not only features said alarm complication, but includes a world time display, handsomely packaged in a pilot’s style format.

The dial

For this review, I was provided with a choice of black or ‘off-white opaline’ dial and the latter immediately called to me. It has a fresh appearance, augmented with the additional blue tones employed on the dial.

Vulcan_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_Dial - ESCAPEMENT magazine by Angus Davies

The first thing I noticed about this timepiece is that the dial does not appear cluttered, despite being equipped with a world time display. I suspect that a major reason for the ease of interpretation is the sparing use of colour, blue and white quietly cooperate to indicate the prevailing hour in one of 24 locations around the globe.

The ‘modern-style’ blue edged hour and minute hands are lined with white fill, exhibiting a slightly metallic gleam to their appearance. The font for the Arabic hour markers features serifs and the numerals at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock are of larger size. I appreciate this slightly idiosyncratic aspect to the design as it injects a pleasing quotient of originality.

Vulcain_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_Pushpieces - ESCAPEMENT website by Angus Davies

Rotating the crown at 4 o’clock operates the city disc, whilst the alarm is controlled via the pushpiece at 2 o’clock and indicated on the dial with a triangular-tipped hand, outlined in red.

Vulcan_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_Onside - ESCAPEMENT watch review site by Angus Davies

Vulcain has equipped the Aviator Instrument Cricket with a date display featuring an elongated aperture, again suffusing the dial with a further smattering of style. While the black text, presented against a white background, is perfectly legible, I suspect displaying one date rather than three would prove easier to interpret.

The case

The 316L stainless steel case is modestly sized for a pilot’s watch, measuring 42mm in diameter. By employing such restraint when deciding on the width of the Aviator Instrument Cricket, Vulcain has delivered a watch with widespread appeal.

Vulcain_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_lyingdown - ESCAPEMENT watch website by Angus Davies

The case construction is comparatively complex, featuring numerous details which enhance the overall composition. The crowns at 3 and 4 o’clock include a knurled pattern, dissected midway along their circumference, conferring additional visual interest. The bezel is castellated along its vertical flank, tempting fingers to examine the surface more closely.

Vulcain_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_Caseband - ESCAPEMENT watch website by Angus Davies

Close examination of the lugs reveals highly polished treatment on the upper surfaces with contrasting satin-brush on the vertical planes. This in turn contrasts with the highly polished surfaces of the caseband.

Vulcain_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_Caseback - ESCAPEMENT watch news by Angus Davies

The rear of the watch features a caseback held with six screws and a sapphire crystal at its centre.

The light brown leather strap with contrasting stitching is highly attractive, contributing to the overall cheerful appearance of the watch.

The movement

At first glance the movement may appear to be self-winding. It is not. A v-shaped bridge, a facsimile of the brand’s logo, is purely decorative and should not be confused with an oscillating mass.

Vulcan_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_Movement - ESCAPEMENT watch blog by Angus Davies

The hand-wound Manufacture Calibre V-11 has a distinctive appearance with two skeletonised ratchet wheels, blued screws and minimal bridgework. The movement is equipped with twin barrels, one serving the time keeping aspects of the watch and the other powering the alarm which rings for approximately 20 seconds.

Closing remarks

The Vulcain Aviator Instrument Cricket is a handsome horological proposition. It features a highly legible dial, despite being equipped with a world time complication.

Vulcan_Aviator_Instrument_Cricket_Side - ESCAPEMENT watches by Angus Davies

Where this watch proffers a high degree of individuality is with its alarm. Indeed, it is the amazing capacity of the alarm to resonate and make its presence known which proves highly impressive. Moreover, with its bright, ebullient aesthetics and keen pricing it provides much cheer and welcome respite from the dismal winter weather and serves as a fitting reminder that summer is not far away.

Technical specification

  • Model: Vulcain Aviator Instrument Cricket
  • Reference: 110163A77.BFC111
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 42mm; height 14mm; sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours, minutes; date; world timer; alarm.
  • Movement: Calibre V-11; hand-wound movement; frequency 18,000 vph (2.5Hz); 30 jewels; power reserve 42 hours
  • Strap: Light brown leather strap presented with a stainless steel folding buckle
  • Price: £3,790 (RRP as at 19.2.2016)

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