Renowned for its iconic models and its unique mechanical movements, the Vulcain manufacture occupies a special place in the world of Haute Horlogerie.
Active since 1858 in the manufacture of exceptional timepieces; Vulcain has always created watches which meet the varied requirements of the time periods it has spanned. Vulcain is still guided by the watchwords «innovation» and «exploration», in launching the products of the future and exploring the company’s rich history to perpetuate its expertise and showcase its original character.
The history of alarm watches dates back quite some time. As early as the 14th century, the first models were given to the watchmen who would patrol the villages to prevent fires. These watches were simple devices whose primary function was to sound an alarm. They were also used in monasteries to mark the passage of time and signal prayer times.
During the 16th century, church bells were embellished with clocks including a chime module. This was the first alarm mechanism. Throughout history, this module has continued to shrink in size, from the clock forming the centrepiece on a table or mantle piece, to a model which could be worn (pocket watch).
Following this evolution, the researchers of the time were finally faced with a problem of size: is it possible to further miniaturise this complex module to enable it to be integrated into a wristwatch case?
The engineers and researchers faced numerous technological requirements in the process of developing an alarm system compatible with the size of a watch case, including:
- Miniaturisation of the chime mechanism.
- Integration of this module within a mechanical movement, while retaining its accuracy.
- Ensuring sufficient power to drive the watch’s operating and chime functions.
- Creating a chime which was powerful enough.
- Sound diffusion outside the case: the hermetic seal of the case made it difficult to hear the sound of the hammer striking the anvil inside the case. Furthermore, by definition, a wristwatch is worn on the wrist, which makes resonance even more difficult.
- Maintaining the water resistance of the watch.
Thanks to a great deal of patience and determination, the Vulcain Watch Manufacture successfully overcame this challenge by working closely with a large team of experts, engineers and technicians. After five years of research and prototyping, the watchmaking firm could boast that it had completed this arduous task with great success.
The complex mechanism of the Vulcain calibre was inspired by the animal kingdom – the cricket, to be precise. The basic premise was this: if a tiny creature such as a cricket can emit a sound which can be heard over 30 metres away, it should be possible to adapt and reproduce this mechanism in a watch case.
But how does this creature emit its sound? To do this, it uses its «elytra» or wing covers. These are very hard front wings covering the hind wings, which it rubs together to produce a chirping noise.
The vibrations of the thin, transparent part of the wing, called the «membrane», enable the cricket to vary its chirp, thereby increasing its sound. So it was in 1947 that Vulcain launched its first alarm wristwatch, called the «Cricket», reproducing the unique chirping sound of this tiny creature thanks to a mechanism featuring a peg fixed on a membrane.
When the hammer struck the anvil, the latter began to resonate and the sound was amplified thanks to an openwork double bottom. Its double-barrelled system enabled the Vulcain calibre to emit a powerful chime lasting approx. 20 seconds.
A Cricket model represents much more than a simple «alarm» watch. Its unique technology is the signature of the Vulcain brand and the result is a genuine timepiece with alarm function.
Today, it is even effectively used as a day-timer or, more simply, as a reminder tool for meetings and maintenance. With such a great reputation, it is only natural that the Vulcain Watch Manufacture still continues to develop this unique calibre, thereby perpetuating the modern history of the brand 70 years after the launch of this exceptional calibre.
Today, Vulcain makes manual-winding and self-winding mechanical alarm calibers. The notable modern hand-wound movements are V-10, V-13, V-16 and V-18. In the self-winding category, the most recent additions are V-20, V-21, V-22 and V-28.
Vulcain’s Modern Alarm Movements
- Vulcain Calibre V-10: 165 parts, 25 rubies, Size: Ø28mm, Height: 5.6mm
- Vulcain Calibre with Date V-11: 199 parts, 30 rubies, Size: Ø28mm, Height: 6.3mm
- Vulcain Calibre V-13: 165 parts – 25 rubies, Size: Ø28mm, Height: 5.6mm, Meticulous Finish, Côtes De Geneve Motifs
- Vulcain Calibre with Date V-16: 199 parts, 30 rubies, Size: Ø28mm, Height 6.3mm, Meticulous Finish, Charcoal Grey Coating
- Vulcain Calibre V-18: 165 parts, 25 rubies, Size: Ø28mm, Height: 5.6mm, Meticulous Finish , Côtes De Geneve Motifs, Charcoal Grey Coating
- Vulcain Calibre V-20: 234 parts, 36 rubies, Size: Ø28mm, Height: 7.6mm, Meticulous Finish, Côtes De Geneve Motifs
- Vulcain Calibre with Date V-21: 271 parts, 36 rubies, Size: Ø28mm, Height: 8.4mm, Meticulous Finish, Côtes De Geneve Motifs
- Vulcain Calibre V-28: 234 parts, 36 rubies, Size: Ø28mm, Height: 7.6mm, Meticulous Finish, Côtes De Geneve Motifs, Charcoal Grey Coating
- Vulcain Calibre With Date V-22: 271 parts, 36 rubies, Size : Ø28mm, Height 8.4mm, Meticulous Finish , Côtes De Geneve Motifs, Charcoal Grey Coating