In 1955, Vacheron Constantin released in limited production a timepiece that is still coveted and sought out by collectors today. Reference 6087 was the venerable maison’s first chronograph with a waterproof case, and the case itself, made of yellow gold, was also historically notable from a design standpoint, with its unusually shaped lugs that resembled the “horns of a cow” (Cornes de vache in French). Vacheron revived the model, with some modern styling and a new movement, for its vintage-inspired Historiques collection in 2015, and has thus far only offered it in precious metals. This week, however, the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 makes its debut in stainless steel.
The distinctive case is historically accurate in most of its detailing, including the mushroom-style chronograph pushers, grooved crown, and, of course, those curvy cow-horn lugs. At 38.5 mm in diameter, it is slightly larger than the historical model’s, which was a then-common 35 mm, considered rather dainty for a gents’ watch today. The dial layout is also period-accurate with added modern nuances: applied hour indices and stick-type hour and minute hands in white gold, blued chronograph hands, 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock and running seconds display at 9 o’clock. The main dial has what Vacheron describes as a “gray velvet opaline” finish, and the subdials have a snailed finish. The minutes/seconds scale bordering the dial is white with red numerals, while the tachymeter scale that surrounds that scale — another holdover from the 1955 original — is gray velvet opaline.
The movement powering the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 — and superseding its historical predecessor, the hand-wound Caliber 492 — is Vacheron Constantin’s manufacture Caliber 1142. Composed of 164 pieces (21 jewels) and measuring 27.5 mm in diameter and 5.6 mm thick, the movement is manually wound like its ancestor, and stores a power reserve of approximately 48 hours. Its integrated chronograph function is controlled by a column wheel whose screw head is shaped like a Maltese cross, Vacheron’s well-known symbol. Like most of the Swiss manufacture’s in-house movements, Caliber 1142 has earned the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva for its high-horology finishes and flourishes, including polished chamfers and sinks for jewel holes, polished jewel heads, côtes de Genève on the plate and bridges, and chamfered wheels on the going train — all visible, along with the column wheel, through a sapphire exhibition caseback bordered by a 10-sided bezel.
Finally, the other new feature on this model is the strap, which is crafted in patinated dark brown calf leather by Maison Serapian, a Milanese leather goods purveyor founded in 1928 (and now owned by Vacheron’s parent company, Richemont). The strap, with tone-on-tone stitching and a polished steel buckle closure in the shape of a half Maltese cross, represents the firm’s first collaboration with Vacheron Constantin. The Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache will retail for $39,800.