I travelled to Vacheron Constatin’s manufacturer in Geneva, Switzerland to discover the heritage of the highly anticipated steel watch and to meet with the Italian artisans of Serapian who crafted its strap with a unique house signature.
The original Cornes de Vache was first manufactured in 1955, specified as reference 6087, a timepiece that was named after it’s iconic looking lugs shaped as ‘cow’s horns’ (“Corne de Vache” in French). It was born in the beginning of a period considered the renaissance of watch design and known to be the maison’s first ever chronograph with a waterproof case. Only twenty-eight original examples were made and like most watches at this time, it was made of yellow gold.
In 2015 Vacheron revived the model from their archives with a case made of platinum as an addition to their vintage-inspired Historiques collection. A year later, it was introduced in 18-karat pink gold. Now the timepiece has its debut in a highly anticipated steel-version and it sits on a rather distinctive piece of tanned leather.
The modern design takes most of its style cues from the original reference 6087 such as the mushroom-style chronograph counters, grooved crown and distinctive cow-horn lugs. The new model is slightly bigger with a 38.5 mm case compared to 35 mm on the vintage watch, a size that is typical for a timepiece form the 50’s. Looking closer at the characteristics of the dial you will see that the a beautiful petrol blue hands too have been adopted form the original. Elements that have been added to the modern design include the grey velvet-finished opaline dial and the oxblood minute track numerals. The colour details that adds a nice depth to the dial and gives the watch less formal look.
The strap of the new Cornes de Vache 1955 is the first to be made for Vacheron by the Milanese leather Maison, Serapian. A company that was acquired by Vacheron’s parent company, Richemont, in 2017. During my visit to the Vacheron Constantin manufacturer in Geneva I had the pleasure of meeting Giovanni Serapian who represents the familiy’s third generation in the business. Together with one of the atelier’s artisans he introduced me to the house style and took me through the steps of creating the watch strap. It is made of patinated dark brown calf leather, with tone-on-tone stitching and a polished steel buckle closure in the shape of a half Maltese cross. The second loop of the strap features the “attacco” shape, characteristic method used on Serapian handbags to make the handle more sturdy.
Turning over the watch you will find an open caseback showcasing the beautiful is the Vacheron Constantin calibre 1142. The calibre is produced in-house by Vacheron Constantin to Poinçon de Genève standards, which means each component is individually finished and decorated by hand. Polished chamfers and sink holes, polished jewel heads, côtes de Genève stripes on the plate and bridges, and chamfered wheels on the going train. The screw head on the column wheel is shaped like Vacheron’s famous symbol, the Maltese cross.
My thoughts from a style perspective? My weakness is nostalgia, hence the Historiques collection’s vintage soul has always spoken to me ever since I was introduced to Vacheron Constantin. The Cornes de Vache is in my opinion a very attractive option for a chronograph due to its iconic lugs, pleasing proportions and movement which is an excitement to any watch enthusiast. When not on a bracelet, steel watches are usually presented on a black strap, a look that I have always favoured. However spending time with this watch and styling it with brown, dark grey and burgundy tailoring I might have changed my mind. What do you think?
Yours sincerely, Mathias le Fèvre