Fading Vulcain to Present Cricket Wristwatch to President Trump

Continuing a decades old tradition, President-Elect Trump will receive a Cricket alarm after his inauguration.

Once Donald Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States, he will receive a Vulcain Cricket, reports Bloomberg, continuing a practice that began with Harry Truman. The ailing Swiss watchmaker has gifted its signature alarm wristwatch to almost every U.S. President since Truman, though only Eisenhower and Johnson were ever spotted with one in public.

President Barack Obama was presented an specially engraved Anniversary Heart Cricket wristwatch in early 2009. And in return he wrote the watchmaker a thank-you note, which joined the exhibit of letters from various U.S. presidents over the years that’s on show inside Vulcain’s factory.

Vulcain Anniversary Heart Cricket Barack Obama 2

Named after the vibrating mechanical alarm that buzzes insistently, the Cricket is the signature wristwatch of Vulcain, which just cut more than half its workforce in early December, according to Switzerland’s public broadcaster RTS. Like the rest of the luxury watchmakers in Switzerland, Vulcain is suffering as the industry experiences an unprecedented slowdown.

Switzerland’s largest publicly listed watchmaking groups, Richemont and Swatch, both reported drops in first half profit of over 50% earlier this year. And Richemont-owned Vacheron Constantin and Piaget are now negotiating job cuts with watchmakers’ unions, while enduring protests outside their factories.

Vulcain Barack Obama White House Letter

Owned by Excellence Holding, a Saudi-controlled Swiss company that also owns watch retailers Les Ambassadeurs and Watches of Switzerland, Vulcain itself is being shopped around according to industry sources, joining Breitling and Maurice Lacroix.

Sources: Bloomberg, RTS

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SIHH 2017: Piaget Celebrates 60 Years of Ultra-Thin Watches with a Pair of Altiplano Limited Editions

Featuring dark blue dials with a metallic finish and a hand-wound movement just 2.1mm high.

Though as much as a jeweller as a watchmaker in the present day, Piaget started as a maker of timepieces. The brand scored one of its greatest hits in 1957 when it introduced the slim calibre 9P, one of the thinnest movements ever made. And three years later Piaget followed up with the automatic 12P that was just 2.3mm high.

Next year Piaget will mark the 60th anniversary of that milestone with several commemorative editions, starting with a pair of watches modelled on the original. The Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection watches are both 18k white gold but available in two sizes, 38mm or 43mm.

Piaget Altiplano 60th anniversary Collection - 43mm profile

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection-1

The pair share the same aesthetic derived from the 1960s original – that admittedly was common for most extra-thin watches of that era – with baton hands and hour markers, as well as a subtle crosshair in the centre of the dial. But while the baton markers on the vintage originals were merely printed, those on the two commemorative editions are applied 18k white gold.

Piaget Altiplano 60th anniversary Collection - 43mm dial

The movements, however, different. The Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection 43mm is powered by the calibre 1200P, a thin automatic movement. Visible through the display back, the calibre 1200P just 2.35mm high, thanks in part to the compact micro-rotor that’s made of 22k gold.

Piaget Altiplano 60th anniversary Collection - 43mm back

“Automatic” in italic script on the dial is the only clue to the movement inside the watch, a detail taken from the original self-winding ultra-thin Piaget watches of the 1960s.

A 1960s Piaget ref. 12104 with the calibre 12P inside

The Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection 38 mm, on the other hand, is manually wound. It’s fitted with the calibre 430P, a 2.1mm high movement with a 43-hour power reserve that’s hidden behind a solid case back.

Piaget Altiplano 60th anniversary Collection - 38mm back

A variant of Piaget’s trademark ultra-thin watches were timepieces fitted with semiprecious stone dials, extraordinary thin slices of mineral mounted on a metal base. This strikingly coloured watches were particularly fashionable in the late 1960s and 1970s, which bodes well for a commemorative comeback of sorts in the upcoming anniversary year.

A sampling of ultra-thins with stone dials

Price and availability 

The Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection 38 mm (ref. G0A42107) is limited to 460 pieces and priced at US$17,900 or S$25,000.

The 40mm model (ref. G0A42105) is limited to 360 pieces, with a price tag of US$23,900 or S$35,000.

Piaget Altiplano 60th Anniversary Collection sketch

Update December 12, 2016: Retail price added.

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