“When you think about heritage, you think about old guys and dust,” says Christian Selmoni of Vacheron Constantin. “I hope we can show that history is so much more interesting than that.” Selmoni, it should be said, is the style and heritage director at the fabled Swiss watchmaker, and his colleagues call him the “walking archive” due to his encyclopaedic knowledge of even the most obscure corners of the maison’s history.
The nickname is as affectionate as it is accurate — under Selmoni’s stewardship, the past is bursting gloriously into life. Witness the Historiques Cornes des Vache 1955, unveiled last summer in a handsome new steel case.
The Fifties original (named for the idiosyncratic protrusion of its cow horn lugs), quickly became a collectors favourite, and was remarkable for its water-resistance — an unheard of trait for chronographs of that era.
Only 36 were made, adding a layer of mystique to its striking looks. “Aesthetically, we have kept the spirit of the watch,” says Selmoni of 2019’s reinvention. And there’s certainly more than a touch of the OId Money, mid-century swagger of the original. The case has been expanded to a more modern (but still understated) 38.5mm, and the innards boast a gorgeous manual-winding chronograph Calibre 1142 which beats at 21,600 vibrations per hour and has a 48-hour power reserve.
“We are very far from the kind of chronograph that is just bought simply because it has three dials,” says Selmoni. “We’re going back to the core of the chronograph, with its beautiful tradition of watchmaking and the brilliance of the movement.”
“Our first chronograph as a wristwatch was made in 1917, more than 100 years ago,” he says. But it’s the Cornes de Vache which jumps out as one of the absolute classics. “It’s a very iconic watch for us.”
The brown calf leather strap — verging on oxblood — is crafted in Milan by the esteemed Serapian house, while the chronograph seconds and chronograph minutes hands are in an eye-catching blue steel. There’s a final subtle dash of colour with the blood red numerals on the seconds track. As with all classics, the lasting beauty here is in the exquisite details.
Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955
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