Two years ago, during Baselworld 2011, the Swiss-based manufacturer has presented a beautiful alarm watch that featured a nicely done automatic movement combined with an understated design of its compact body and beautiful case. While looking very similar to the older version, this new 2013 Vulcain 50s President’s Watch (ref. 110151.281LF) comes powered by a different movement that features manual winding, but is still very easy to operate.
Sporting a twin-barrel energy storage system and beating at just 18,000 vph, the Cricket V-11 caliber is only good for some 42 hours after being fully wound, but that’s only because the spring barrels are separated in order to supply energy both for the main time display and for the alarm module.
The movement may look somewhat archaic, especially if you compare it to the most recent breed of high-tech beasts, but you should take into account the fact that it was introduced back in 1947, when Europe was still struggling to adapt to the new situation after the Great War and the United States experienced a period of an unprecedented growth.
Although these days, when almost every human being on this planet has at least a dumb phone with multiple alarms that can be set for different times of day and different days of the week, a mechanical alarm watch is clearly nothing but a nice toy, it is still nice to know that alarm will ring for at least 20 seconds guaranteeing that you will wake up even if a solar flare or a man-made electromagnetic pulse burns out every single computer chip in the vicinity.
Frankly, I can’t say that the alarm’s buzz is the most pleasant sound that you will hear in your life: far from it. Still it sounds very close to a vibrating mobile phone, so it is not the worst sound either.
As I have already noted, the watch looks absolutely beautiful.
Its 42 mm case is not very thick and the ultra-thin bezel leaves enough space for the guilloched dial to shine in all its glory.
As you can see on the pictures above, the watch has an arrow-shaped fourth hand, which points at a somewhat unusual chapter ring with 12 fragments graduated from 10 to 50. This is, of course, an alarm indicator. On this particular image it indicates that the watch will buzz around 4:50.
There is still no officially available pricing for this timekeeper, but it is already offered on eBay for $5950, so it looks like it won’t be terribly expensive*.
Just like the previous version, this one was revealed at Baselworld 2013 earlier this week.
Build Quality: 4.5/5
Overall Legibility: 3.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 1/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
* UPDATE ON PRICING: According to Vulcain’s official web-store, the MSRP in the United States is $6560, which, from where I stand, is a very good proposition for a high-quality timekeeper with a real mechanical alarm function.
2013 Vulcain 50s President’s Watch with Alarm (ref. 110151.281LF) specification
Price: $6560 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, Caliber Cricket V-11, 191 parts, two barrels, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 22 jewels
Movement frequency: 18,000 vph
Power reserve: 42 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes, date, alarm
Case, Bezel and Crown material: Stainless steel
Case size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 12.50 mm
Strap width: 22/18 mm
Dial: Silver-toned, central guilloche
Numerals: Arabic, applied
Hour markers: Applied
Hands: Dauphine, polished
Water resistance: 50 meters
Strap: Louisiana alligator with steel buckle; optional version with steel folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, domed
Case back: Transparent