In 2017, vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 collaborated on a watch that turned out to be a resounding success with collectors. This was a steel version of the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 chronograph – a signature model for Vacheron, based on the reference 6087 from 1955. The classic shape and equally classic, hand-wound, hand-finished Vacheron caliber 1142 – based on the Lemania 2310 – made for an irresistible combination in precious metals. And in steel, the HODINKEE limited edition of 36 pieces sold out immediately.
Since then, the market for stainless steel watches has exploded in an unprecedented fashion, and while much of the hunger in the market is for stainless steel sports watches and sports-dress watches, high-grade stainless steel watches in general are in great demand across the board. Vacheron’s decision to release the vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 as a regular production model in steel, at what is a relatively approachable price for a top-tier chronograph from a top-tier maker is a smart one. The steel Historiques Cornes de Vaches 1955 is being offered at $39,800, in contrast to the $54,000 cost of the same timepiece in pink gold (and the over $70,000 price of similar chronographs in precious metals from some of Vacheron’s competitors).
The stainless steel case is new, but the rest of the watch is everything that Vacheron fans and classic chronograph enthusiasts have always loved about the Cornes de Vache. Case size is the same as the precious metal models, at 38.5mm, and the dial retains the tachymeter scale found on the precious metal models as well (our limited edition had a pulsometer scale). Both the chronograph seconds and chronograph minutes hands are in blued steel, and the dial markers are 18k white gold with the red numerals on the seconds track providing an additional flash of color.
I would be very surprised if this version of the vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 were anything other than a runaway hit for Vacheron Constantin. While it’s as natural as breathing for a company like Vacheron to make phenomenally sophisticated high complications, like the 65-day power reserve Twin Beat perpetual calendar, and also to make precious metal watches in both traditional round shapes and idiosyncratic forms like that of the 1921, these appeal not only to fairly deep pockets but also fairly specific tastes.
The vacheron constantin historiques cornes de vache 1955 in precious metal is an extremely elevated timepiece, but it is also more formal than not, and in gold or platinum represents Genevan watchmaking at an overtly luxurious level. Of course, at $39,800 it is certainly, even in steel, still very much a luxury watch, but it is one that wears its fineness a bit more lightly. It is therefore not only a more accessible watch from a price perspective, but one with more versatility and with a broader appeal. The gold and platinum versions really exude a sort of grandee presence; they’re redolent of the Old World and respectable old money. This is not a criticism so much as an observation; with the introduction of the watch in steel, we now have a version of the Cornes de Vache 1955 available as a regular production model with a distinctly contemporary feel and appeal, which sacrifices nothing of its appeal to traditional fine watchmaking values as well.
When it was introduced back in 2015, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 was an immediate success. Available in platinum or in pink gold until now, today it makes its debut in the hottest of all materials: Steel! Steel… It is surprising to see how ambivalent this material is.