This year Vacheron Constantin debuted an all-new, aggressively priced entry-level watch collection called the Fiftysix. Consisting of three different versions, the Self-Winding, Complete Calendar, and Day-Date – each variation is available in stainless steel or 18K pink gold.
According to Vacheron Constantin, this is a “Modern interpretation of the iconic reference 6073, launched in 1956 and inspired by the Maltese cross.”
The name of the collection references 1956, which is the year the original 6073 reference that the new watch has been loosely based on was first produced. The most notable inspiration from the 1950s model comes from the lugs. Each lug represents a branch of the company’s emblem: the Maltese cross. Notably, the case of the 6073 also had a unique multi-sided caseback.
All of the references in the new Fiftysix collection come in a 40 mm diameter case (in steel or pink gold) and feature a two-tone opaline-sunburst sector dial. The Self-Winding model is 9.6 mm thick, whereas the two more complicated timepieces are 11.6 mm thick. A highly domed sapphire crystal protects the dial. Each is powered by a new movement with 48-hour power reserve and a 22K pink gold oscillating weight that has been openworked with the Maltese cross in the center.
Arabic numerals and indices mark the hours, the latter of which are luminescent. The hour and minute hands are baton-shaped and have been filled with lume.
Every Fiftysix is presented on an alligator strap with a polished half Maltese cross-shaped folding clasp in steel or gold.
Going after a lower-priced segment is a trend we’ve seen across the watch industry for a number of years now, and a good one considering that generally speaking Swiss watches are perceived as way overpriced. However, for one of the Richemont Group’s top tier watch brands, I cannot help but think that this is a reactionary strategy driven by the trend as opposed to a proactive move. They appear to be chasing the demand instead of creating it. And that is rarely a good thing.
The watches are growing on me personally, but I do feel even at the starting price of $11,700 in steel for the Self-Winding model, what you get for the money is not so great that people will run out and buy these.
The dials look very well made but the hour and minute hands appear like their tips have been cut-off. And the flared out crown looks out of proportion, giving the watch a somewhat cheaper feel than we’re used to seeing from Vacheron. Viewing the movement through the back, you see the nice pink gold openworked rotor, and bridges that have Geneva stripes and circular graining, as well as chamfered and polished edges, which looks good, even though there is no free sprung balance (which is usually seen in the higher-end price segment).
Finally, the name makes me think Richemont’s committee could not come up with anything better and so they just spelled out the date of the watch that inspired this, and then they registered the name as a trademark.
Learn more at Vacheron Constantin.