We’ve been hard at work on this one. Since the fall of 2015, we’ve been collaborating with friends in the industry to bring to light products that speak directly to our audience, and today we are here to tell you about our latest. Say hello to the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 Limited Edition for HODINKEE.
What Is It?
The Cornes de Vaches chronograph was introduced by Vacheron Constantin in April 2015 as a limited production piece that, while not a literal translation of the 1950s reference 6087, was deeply inspired by this final manually-wound Vacheron chronograph of the vintage era. The name “Cornes de Vaches” translates into “Cow Horns,” and was inspired by the stunning, expressive, and masterful lugs that wrap the 38.5mm case around the wrist. The Cornes de Vaches, originally launched in platinum in 2015, and later introduced in rose gold in 2016, has become one of the hottest watches in the high-end chronograph game. Today, a third instance of the Cornes de Vaches is introduced, and now the case is in stainless steel and the dial is slate grey with a pulsation scale.
Powering the watch is the Vacheron caliber 1142 manually-wound chronograph movement. The caliber is of course based on easily one of the most lauded and collectible movements in all of watchmaking, the Lemania 2310. However, not only does Vacheron’s most recent version of this movement include a higher frequency balance (3 Hz) and subtle aesthetic flourishes such as the Maltese cross column-wheel, but the entire watch is also certified by the Geneva Hallmark (which, after the most recent update to the Hallmark’s requirements, applies to not only the movement, but the entire watch) .
Only 36 pieces of this watch will be made and the caseback of each is engraved “Limited Edition of 36 for HODINKEE.” The two-register, manually wound chronograph has been a mainstay at Vacheron Constantin for almost 90 years now, and we are humbled to put our own stamp on this model.
How Did It Come To Be?
This 36-piece limited edition is the result of over a year’s worth of meetings, conversations, and collaboration between us here at HODINKEE, and the creative team at Vacheron Constantin. Choosing the model on which to base our project was simple. The Historiques 1955 Cornes de Vache is exactly the type of timepiece that we love – a subtle homage to a great piece of horological history, but with several tweaks that make it even more cohesive. Christian Selmoni, Vacheron’s Artistic Director and a friend of Ben’s since his earliest days in the industry, did a masterful job with the platinum and rose gold watches, adding a tachymeter scale, streamlining the lugs, and carefully refining the proportions of the original piece from 1955.
In working with Christian, we agreed this watch was ripe for production in stainless steel. Why? Because we wanted to create something that had never before existed. The other two well-known mid-century VC chronographs – the 4072 and 4178 – were indeed made in steel during their lifespan, though in few examples. The 6087, which came just a little later in the 1950s, came only in yellow gold, rose gold, and platinum for a total of just 36 watches across all metals (and just two in platinum). What’s more, the 6087 is Vacheron’s only mid-century waterproof chronograph, featuring a screw-back case and round pushers.
While Vacheron’s other mid-century chronographs – references 4072 and 4178 – did see a few steel examples, the Cornes de Vache in its original and modern incarnations was never made in steel, until today.
Ben Clymer, HODINKEE Founder
In addition to finally creating a Cornes de Vache in steel, we also wanted to create a dial that very easily could have been used in 1955, but wasn’t. Most examples of the original 6087 feature no scales at all, making it a rather dressy chronograph. Some, however, do feature a tachymeter, just like the existing modern platinum and rose gold watches. However, when thinking about the Cornes de Vache, the most advanced Vacheron chronograph of the vintage era, with its waterproof caseback and round pushers, we felt that it was just begging for a purpose. And there are few watches that had the unique requirements of elegance combined with purposefulness than the wristwatch of a doctor in the 1950s, so we gave it a pulsation scale. We graduated the scale to 30 pulsations so that the scale would end at nine o’clock, and we wrote the text in English – typically, you’d see this in French – in homage to our home base of New York City.
The dial itself is a lovely grey opaline that changes colors considerably based on lighting conditions. At times it appears almost black, other times it’s a true grey, and, in direct light, it can even appear brown. We chose grey because it sits squarely in between the two colors that would be possible for a chronograph in the 1950s – silver and black. Essentially, we’ve created a 1950s Vacheron chronograph that we would love to discover in an auction catalog, with the durability and wearability of a steel case, but with the simply divine, architectural shape for which Vacheron is world-renowned, with a lovely and visually interesting dial with pulsation scale – something never before seen on a Cornes de Vache chronograph.
The feel of this watch is incredible – it’s 38.5mm across by just 10.9mm thick, in a stainless steel case with a transparent, screw-in caseback. Because of the screw back, and round pump pushers, the watch is water resistant to 30 meters. The caliber inside this case is, as well, nothing short of a modern masterpiece. Finishing things off, the watch comes with a stainless steel Vacheron pin buckle for the straps.
The Vacheron Constantin Historiques 1955 Cornes de Vache Limited Edition for HODINKEE will come on a Vacheron matte grey alligator strap. But, as one would expect, we’ve paired this piece with two custom hand-made straps designed specifically for this watch – one in a natural Barenia leather and another in a light grey textured calfskin.
Only 36 pieces of this watch will be made – we chose 36 in homage to the number of original Cornes de Vache chronographs produced in the 1950s.
The price for this watch is $45,000 and it will be offered to 36 clients who complete an online reservation request. Once requests have been received, the first 36 will be contacted by Vacheron Constantin via telephone to complete the order. You may make your reservation here.