The business of selling watches has changed a great deal during 2020, a repositioning that was already well underway pre-pandemic but has been accelerated by the unfamiliar retail landscape generated by COVID-19. Without the publicity of the traditional trade shows or grand launch events brands are increasingly turning on joint ventures to capture new audiences and grab headlines.
The sheer volume of watches being released in this manner, either in collaboration with media outlets-turned-retailers, or, as in this case, a good old-fashioned retailer exclusive, makes me wonder how watch brands ever sold their wares through anything as prosaic as a store in the first place.
Vacheron Constantin has teamed up with high-end online fashion and watch retailer, MR PORTER, to expand its FiftySix collection, a series the storied atelier launched two years ago to unbutton its shirt a little.
The FiftySix collection now includes four references of the time and date self-winding model, four references of the Complete Calendar, a standalone Tourbillon in 18ct pink gold and now three references of the Day-Date.
The platform now becomes the only place you’ll be able to buy one of 30 pieces of the Date-Date with a petrol blue dial and brown leather calfskin strap. Elsewhere the watch remains unchanged, its stainless steel case is still 40mm in diameter and 11.6mm deep. It uses the same 2475 SC/2 self-winding calibre and the hands and markers are still 18ct white gold.
The FiftySix itself is something of a paradox. Somehow it manages to offer an ever-so-slightly more casual take on the brand while still retaining most of the grandeur associated with the name. Given that this was the purpose of the collection, its design must be considered a success.
I wore a Day-Date during the collection’s London launch two years ago and it was a struggle to hand it back. It’s one of those watches that doesn’t photograph in the studio nearly as well as it does on the wrist, out in the world. Even the threat posed by that unnecessarily asymmetrical power reserve indicator doesn’t materialise.
What is most surprising is that a petrol blue version of the model hasn’t been available until now, Vacheron has clearly been holding some options in reserve for just such an occasion so a reference using Vacheron’s chocolate brown dial can’t be too far off now. The collection is also long-past due a new complication, a dressy GMT wouldn’t go amiss.
But the chances of Vacheron handing over the rights to the blue dialled reference (and a house shade of blue at that) for just 30-pieces are pretty much zero. So, if you didn’t click Add to Basket quite quickly enough don’t be too disheartened, the chances are that this piece (on a blue alligator strap) will join the collection in the very near future.
Price & Specs:
Model: Vacheron Constantin FiftySix Day-Date
Case/Dial: 40mm diameter x 11.6mm height, stainless steel, transparent sapphire crystal caseback
Water Resistance: 30m (3 bar)
Movement: In-house Vacheron Constantin 2475 SC/2, automatic, 27 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power Reserve: 40h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date and day of the week, power-reserve indicator
Strap: Brown calfskin leather with beige stitching
Price/Availability: £15,900 GBP, limited to 30 pieces
More details at MR PORTER.