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New and Live from London: Vacheron Constantin Fifty Six Tourbillon – full hands on review

by Peter Chong on September 11, 2018

Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Collection extends with a new FiftySix Tourbillon. The FiftySix collection was introduced by VC at SIHH 2018, and is intended to be their entry level line. As we write this, we are covering the launch at the Global Launch Event in London, and bring you this hands on review with our live, high resolution photographs. 

 

 

The FiftySix Collection

In SIHH we carried this video of VC’s Artistic Director, Christian Selmoni introducing the FiftySix Collection. It may be worthwhile watching it again to familiarise yourself with the basics of the collection.

 

 

The collection comprised of three watches in January 2018:

Today, they added a tourbillon to the collection, and we know at least one more complicated model is being planned. But that complication information is currently under embargo, and we are not able to share it with you yet.

With this new announcement, the collection is fortified by its first major horological complication.

The launch of the new Tourbillon is at London’s famous Abbey Road Studios is an opportunity for the Maison to announce an exclusive partnership with this legendary location in music history, where English song-artist Benjamin Clementine, one of the faces of the Maison’s new advertising campaign, is giving a private concert to mark this occasion. We will bring you our photographs from the launch in an event report later.

 

Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Tourbillon

The case, dial and hands

The case retains the FiftySix collection shape which is based on the Vacheron Constantin Ref. 6073: round case measuring 41mm in diameter with lugs which are quarter Maltese Cross. At launch, the tourbillon is only available in rose gold, unlike the other three models which are available in both stainless steel and rose gold.

 

 

The dial is quite classical. And the layout is within the DNA established for the FiftySix collection. The dial is finished in a two-tone opaline-sunburst pattern. And the indices being applique in a mixture of arabic numerals for even numbers and bar indices filled with SuperLuminova for the odd hours. A railway track on the inside of the indices and another outside of the indices are transfer printed. At first glance, the dial may look a tad busy, but further study will suggest a sportier aesthetic which is harmonious and pleasant to the eye.

 

 

The dial is punctured by an aperture to showcase the classical VC tourbillon in the shape of the Maltese Cross. This design element is similar to the others we see in the other tourbillons in the Patrimony, and Traditionelle collections. This almost guarantees that the dial side is one which is arrestingly beautiful and immediately captivates one’s attention.

 

The movement Caliber 2160

The movement is the Caliber 2160, an in-house caliber developed and manufactured by VC. The key feature is the elegant open work tourbillon cage in the shape of the Maltese cross, and the ultra thin movement. The movement is just 5.65mm thick and is endowed with a power reserve of 80 hours. This same movement caliber is also used in the VC Traditionelle Tourbillon Ref.6000. 

 

 

The movement beats at a rather sedate 18,000 bph, and uses a 22k gold peripheral oscillating weight to allow the entire movement to be admired from the case back. The rotor itself is a piece of art, and beautiful in own right, but it is the peripheral nature which allows the entire movement to be visible which endears itbeven more. So admire we will. The movement finishing is judged to be excellent. All the traditional haute horlogerie elements addressed very well.

 

The finishing on the bridges are beyond reproach. The anglage is beautifully executed. Note the inward angle around the jewel of the center pinion. This is hand executed.

 

The bridge of the tourbillon deserves particular note. It has a tapered round shape which is hand bevelled and beautifully polished. This level of finishing is rarely seen these days as it takes up to 12 hours to complete this component alone. And the C.2160 in the FiftySix Tourbillon features this fine finish.

 

The tourbillon carriage and bridge is a work of art, and worthy of being gazed on fore long periods of time at the peril of doing any meaningful work while wristed with the FiftySix Tourbillon.

 

Overall, a magnificent movement, executed with much aplomb resulting in great beauty. And the movement carries the prestigious Geneva Seal.

 

Wearing impressions

On the wrist, the FiftySix Tourbillon wears rather a bit smaller than its 41mm case would suggest. It fits snugly on most reasonably sized wrists. The Chief Editor’s 7.5 inch wrist works well with it, as does slimmer wrists, as shown in the photograph directly below.

 

 

The watch has a presence which escapes the other FiftySix series watches, perhaps deservedly so, as an acknowledgement to its flagship status within the Collection. We are constantly mesmerised by the animated beauty of the tourbillon sitting proud on the dial.

 

Concluding thoughts

At press time, the price is not yet announced. But the indicative ballpark we were hinted suggests a rather modest tag for a VC tourbillon. With this assurance, we are confident to recommend this as an excellent tourbillon to add to one’s collection. The aesthetics are beautiful, and rather harmonious with our image of what a grand maison like Vacheron would be. The dial side might seem be a bit sportier, and perhaps appeal to younger buyers than the Patrimony or Traditionelle series. But still remaining classical and restrained.

 

 

But to us, the movement is the star. Though not a new caliber, it is brilliantly designed and magnificently executed. The design is at the same time classical with traditional finishing master strokes, but with a touch of the avant garde with the peripheral rotor. The movement is finished to the very high standards we have come to expect from VC. The fit and finish of the case is also superb, and the watch is comfortable to wear.

 

The most prestigious composition in the collection to date, the FiftySix Tourbillon will be available exclusively from Vacheron Constantin boutiques as of April 2019.

Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Tourbillon Technical Specifications

REFERENCE 6000E/000R-B488
Hallmark of Geneva certified timepiece

INDICATIONS

Hours, minutes
Tourbillon

CASE

18K 5N pink gold
41 mm diameter, 10.9 mm thick
Transparent sapphire crystal caseback
Water-resistance tested at a pressure of 3 bar (approx. 30 meters)

DIAL

Silvered opaline
18K 5N pink gold Arabic numerals
18K 5N pink gold hour-markers highlighted by a blue
luminescent material

CALIBRE 2160

Developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin Mechanical, self-winding,
22K gold peripheral rotor
31 mm (13½’’’) diameter, 5.65 mm thick
Approximately 80 hours of power reserve
2.5 Hz (18,000 vibrations/hour)
188 components
30 jewels

STRAP

Brown Mississippiensis alligator leather with calf inner shell and tone-on-tone
stitching, square scales

CLASP

18K 5N pink gold folding clasp
Polished half Maltese cross-shaped
Available exclusively from Vacheron Constantin boutiques.

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2 Comments
Leave a response
  • Kunal Khemka
    September 14, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    Peter, thank you for this excellent review. I have mixed feeling about the 56 Line. It was launched as an Entry-Level line, hence the time-date only model has a Cartier movement and that ridiculous date window. The 56 Calendar and Day-Date are better looking, though judging by the pics, I do not like the SS versions. My questions are:

    – If the 56 was launched as an entry level with the Calendar and Day-Date in SS versions as well, why then introduce a 100K plus Tourbillon? To me this Undermines the Traditionelle Tourbillon with the same movement launched during SIHH 2018. The Traditionelle Line was specifically created to house complications. If PP has historically been the King of Minute Repeaters, then VC has been the King of Tourbillons. And for them to recycle this gorgeous movement in the 56 is Undermining their own brand identity.

    During the late 90’s / early 00’s, when VC was slowly coming out of troubled times, their then Malte Tourbillon (in all its guises) is Still One of the Most Awesome and Gorgeous Timepieces Today. And VC has worked so hard to reach where it is now; and it seems to me that the new management is out to Ruin It. This makes me very sad.

    Also, what message does tying up with Abbey Studios send prospective customers? I understand VC very well, and I personally do not care much for their adverts. I am just confused over here.

    It is my sincere wish that VC remain the Rolls Royce of the Watch industry and does not Downgrade itself from an Eminent Historic Watchmaker to a Lousy Marketing Machine.

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