A popular watch from Vacheron Constantin (VC) has been reissued a few times over the last half-decade. Back in 2015, 60 years after its initial 1955 release, their Cornes de Vache (“horns of a cow”) came out as part of VC’s “historiques” series. It’s a striking case design where the lugs on the watch command attention—with their hornlike appearance. Sure to be a bold wear for anyone who owns it, Cornes de Vache is typically made with fine metals in its case design. This is traditionally paired with a hand-crafted leather band. While the band remained similar on their 2019 version, the company made its first ever stainless steel iteration of the piece. Not only does this add a certain level of toughness to an already tough/sleek looking watch, it also was a likely attempt to bring the pricetag down on this collectors’ favorite. Now dubbed the “Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955”, this stainless steel VC classic still costs a pretty penny—but has become far more attainable than its gold and platinum counterparts.
Hallmark of Geneva
Cornes de Vache, aside from rolling off the tongue nicely, is a timeless piece of wristwatch engineering. Its case design alone could send the finest automaker racing for their sketchbook. What’s most notable, however, is the VC movement inside. In plain terms, it is the Vacheron Constantin manufacture Calibre 1142. This movement is the modern replacement for their original Calibre 492 (from 1955). Calibre 1142 is a 21 jewel movement comprised of just over 160 pieces. It’s a manually-wound movement (like the original) which holds a power reserve for 48hours. Measuring in at 27.5mm in diameter and 5.6mm in thickness—the Calibre 1142 employs an integrated chronograph as well. With its masterful in-house design the movement alone has earned itself the prestigious and empowering Hallmark of Geneva. This is a customary remark on high-quality Swiss in-house movements—and a key player in the watch’s monetary value. Considering Vacheron Constantin’s 264 year history in Swiss watchmaking, it comes as no surprise that this maison has struck gold again with its newer in-house endeavors.
Stainless steel versions of the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 retail at $39,800 (we did say “pretty penny”). This is without a doubt due to the integrity of VC’s work and the exclusivity of their masterful builds. Where the gold and platinum case pieces can range up toward $70,000, the 2019 stainless steel release hangs out in the realm of relative affordability. It may not come as any surprise that some in-house exclusives from Switzerland can range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. While this creates a certain air about traditional watchmaking it also showcases the enduring quality of each piece. Not everyone has a Cornes de Vache laying about—and it’s just that sentiment that made them a treasure to begin with. The reissue of this piece over the last few years has put the power back into collectors’ hands to dream big and wear haute retro couture. The “horns of a cow” lugs can be found here and there on other timepieces. Despite this, there’s only one Vacheron Constantin—and we’ll continue to admire this piece from all angles of its essence.
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