He’s one of the region’s most knowledgable men when it comes to talking watches and, for Vacheron Constantin in particular, of course there’s no one else we’d choose to take the opinion of. Recently in Kuwait for the launch of the maison’s ‘One of Not Many’ campaign, our Managing Director Zeina Mokaddam say down with Alexandre to get the low-down on the campaign, the FiftySix, and to take a view on 2018.

It will soon be one year since the FiftySix Collection was announced just prior to 2018’s SIHH. How has the collection gone on and proved itself commercially? 

I think the perception of FiftySix at SIHH was overwhelmingly positive. We had very good feedback, and very strong press coverage because it told the story of Vacheron Constantin in a slightly different way. It tells the story of our heritage in a very modern and unexpected way. It’s sophisticated and contemporary and a bit younger. We also launched it together with our One of Not Many campaign – this also gives a new angle on the story of Vacheron Constantin. FiftySix is the first model we launched through the campaign. Recently, in September, we launched the FiftySix at London’s Abbey Road Studios – another different angle, not only for Vacheron Constantin but also amongst watch brands to date. The studio as a choice may be different and unexpected, but it shares the same spirit as ours – heritage and innovation. The view it has presented of us has been very positive. Since the launch, we’ve sold far more than we expected. 

The profile of customer for the FiftySix is perhaps different to the traditional Vacheron Constantin customer. Do you agree? 

They are all ‘One of Not Many’. However, the one thing they all share is that they are connoisseurs who appreciate and understand things from a different angle to most other people. They want something that not everyone else has. The FiftySix attracts the modern, cosmopolitan gentleman who wants something classic and modern at the same time. We also launched it in gold as well as steel – offering a unique combination and satisfying a need for some of our existing customers too – especially here in the Middle East. 

The 4600 FiftySix self-winding uses the ValFleurier movement – so there’s no Hallmark of Geneva here. We prefer not to refer to the model as ‘entry level’, but how do you perceive its appearance in the collection, and has it succeeded in matching the maison’s aims? 

The caliber is a 100% Vacheron caliber. Finished to the same standards as the caliber you’ll find in every Vacheron watch. The reason it doesn’t have the hallmark is simple – this caliber is made by us in the Vallée de Joux, not Geneva. Again, we’re offering the customer something new – a Vacheron Constantin caliber that isn’t made in Geneva, doesn’t have the Geneva hallmark, but is of the same comparably high quality. 

Will there be a time when the hallmark isn’t such an important defining reference to a watch? 

I think the important thing is never to compromise on quality. And then it depends on the client. There are some clients who will always place a high value on the Geneva hallmark. We’ll always continue to offer hallmarked watches for these clients. It will always have its own value because it is an independent certification. 

The FiftySix has been the most heavily promoted of all Vacheron Constantin’s watch collections. How significant has it proved in regard to sales? Which have been the most sought-after models? 

It has been the highlight of this year, but for one good reason. It’s not often that Vacheron Constantin launches an entirely new collection. The good news is that all models are selling well, and we have a good balance across the range. From the simple automatic to the day date and the full calendar. In the Middle East we’ve also seen a very even balance between the steel and the gold. 

Positioned as the hero of the FiftySix collection, the model uses a new, slim complication and combines and classic dial with avant-garde technical details. What do you see this new model adding to the legacy of the maison? (note to readers… we think when it hits the boutiques in April 2019 it’s going to become the new icon for the contemporary face Vacheron Constantin). 

We are a true watchmaker – so the FiftySix merits a grand complication. There are very few high complications that exist because in a high complication watch you have a beautiful movement and you don’t want to obscure it with a rotor. But we found a way to combine the two. We have a beautiful movement, and created a technical solution to take the rotor outside the movement – we call it a ‘peripheral rotor’. it’s very difficult to do, but it gives a clear view of the movement. It’s perfect for FiftySix, and is totally unique. 

Looking back over 2018 with Vacheron Constantin, what are you able to reflect upon and say quietly to yourself, “yes, I did that well”? 

Honestly, I think we did well on how we brought FiftySix to the region. After revealing at SIHH we then had the launch at Abbey Road. It was something very much for the connoisseur. We developed a concept which we rolled out across the Middle East bringing this connoisseur experience in a similar way to each of the countries. Here in Kuwait too, right now.