Vulcain “Imperial Gong” – The World’s First Wristwatch with Alarm Calibre and Tourbillon

In 2005, Vulcain introduced a timepiece combining the most prestigious of complications, the tourbillon, and an alarm calibre endowed with distinctive technical features inspired by the famous Cricket calibre which earned the brand its international renown.

Developed and crafted in a resolutely Haute Horlogerie spirit and equipped with a cathedral gong worthy of the finest minute repeater models, the “Imperial Gong” establishes itself as the noblest of alarmwatches. A creation that will undoubtedly cause quite a stir. A patented and exclusive proprietary movement. An undisputed stronghold: the mechanical alarm wristwatch.


Vulcain sets the crowning touch to this quest for excellence by associating an alarm calibre, featuring distinctive technical elements inspired by the Vulcain Cricket calibre, with the most prestigious complication of them all, the tourbillon, along with a double barrel and a 130-hour power reserve. This represents a truly impressive accomplishment in terms of miniaturisation.

Devised to compensate for the effects of gravity on the running of a watch, and thus to enhance the precision of the movement, the tourbillon mechanism is composed of a mobile carriage housing the regulator organ (balance and spring assembly) and the escapement, and which spins on its axis once a minute. Noblesse oblige, Vulcain has developed one of the most sophisticated tourbillon shapes and the most complex to produce, the flying tourbillon.

This magically light construction, entirely free of bridges, appears to be floating on air and may be admired from all angles thanks to the dial opening and the transparent case-back. This masterpiece of finesse and micrometrical precision – the tourbillon carriage comprises 62 parts weighing a mere 0.50 grams – is patiently crafted in keeping with the finest principles of the watchmaking art. It perfectly reflects the traditions of the artisans of the Neuchâtel Jura region and marries the beauty of time-honoured gestures with the latest technical advances. The blued steel index of the tourbillon carriage enables one to read off the small seconds on a subdial at 9 o’clock.
An exceptional alarm wristwatch deserved to emit an exceptional sound. For listening pleasure – and to connoisseurs’ delight – Vulcain has equipped the “Imperial gong” model with a cathedral gong such as are to be found in the most exclusive minute repeater watches.

To achieve this rich, deep tone, the gong is wrapped twice around the movement. The hammer striking the gong is visible through an aperture at 12 o’clock. Otherwise, Vulcain has remained loyal to the architecture of the distinctive technical features of the Cricket alarm calibre, with its two barrels (one for the movement, the other for the alarm mechanism); the alternative crown lever as well as the striking mechanism ratchet and the movement ratchet – three essential characteristics of the Cricket calibre – may be admired through an aperture at 3 o’clock.

The triangular red hand of the subdial (at 3 o’clock) allows one to adjust the alarm time using the push-piece located at 2 o’clock and the crown positioned at 3 o’clock; thanks to its luminescent coating one can see at a glance, even in the dark, whether the time is correctly set.

To accommodate this innovative movement, Vulcain has designed an understated and highly contemporary case, crafted exclusively in 18-carat rose or white gold, that perfectly highlights the technical aspects of the dial. The latter radiates an ideal sense of equilibrium thanks to a wealth of extremely refined details and finishing characteristic of the finest Haute Horlogerie creations, including the hand-guilloché solid silver base, the 18-carat gold applied hour-markers, the inner ring with hand-engraved and lacquered numerals.

The luminescent Dauphine type hands are in 18-carat gold. The finishing of the movement, visible through the transparent case-back, has also been performed in harmony with the highest rules of the watchmaking art: Côtes de Genève decorative motif, circular graining, hand-chamfered parts, and traditionally blued screws.

Endowed with its flying tourbillon, the “Imperial Gong” by Vulcain asserts itself as the noblest and most sophisticated of alarm wristwatches. It was presented in an exclusive preview in the spring of 2005. Given the complexity of the movement and the high level of hand craftsmanship involved in producing it, very few will leave the workshops of the Manufacture each year.

This exclusive creation, a truly top-flight timepiece, eloquently demonstrates that, three years after its renaissance, the specialist of mechanical alarm watches has found its rightful place among the inner circle of the most prestigious Swiss brands. This introduction undoubtedly marks the start of a new chapter of Vulcain’s history.

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