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Vulcain unveiled the Cricket in 1947 at the famous (and, sadly, soon-to-shutter) Waldorf Astoria in New York City. It caused a media sensation, and for good reason: the Vulcain was the first wristwatch to feature an alarm function. While other brands have since developed their own alarm movements--most notably Jaeger-LeCoultre with its Memovox--the Cricket was the first working model, making it a true milestone in modern day horology.
Indeed, in addition to being the world's first alarm caliber, the Calibre 120 was also among the most accurate. This was thanks to Vulcain's Exactomatic system, for which Vulcain secured the patent in 1946. The Exactomatic system achieved unprecedented equilibrium of the balance wheel in all positions, guaranteeing accuracy to within four or five seconds a day.
The Vulcain Calibre 120 would go on to power watches that would adorn the wrists of such august personages as every US President since Nixon (except George W. Bush). Despite this more regal association, the Cricket also found its way onto the wrists of mountaineers--in fact, the watch accompanied the first expedition to reach the 28,250 foot peak of K2, in the Himalayas. Future advertisements for the Vulcain would read: “The teams of all these expeditions have expressed their satisfaction and admiration of the record performance of their Vulcain Cricket, testifying that their running was as faultless and the ringing of the alarm as distinct on the summit of K2 as in the damp jungle of Equatorial Africa.”
The Cricket also found itself in a most unlikely place: under the ocean. In collaboration with underwater explorer Hannes Keller, Vulcain developed a submersible Cricket model. Keller had descended to a depth of 728 feet in the Italian Lake Maggiore in 1961, making him an ideal consultant for Vulcain. Along with diving instructor Arthur Droz and Max-Yves Brandly, noted explorer and film director, Vulcain began development of the Cricket Nautical.
Like the original of 1947, the Cricket Nautical made waves. It was the first wristwatch that could sustain a depth of 300 meters. Additionally, like the later Doxa Sub 300T, it featured decompression charts--in this case on the dial in concentric circles. Vulcain ensured the audibility of the alarm with a triple case back. And, as anyone who's ever worn an alarm wristwatch knows, when the alarm goes off, it vibrates, buzzing like an angry cricket trapped in a Mason jar. Since words can't illustrate just how loud--and how long--this alarm sounds, we've taken a video for you.
Our Cricket Nautical is a successor to the earlier model of 1961, this one dating from the 1970s. The famed Calibre 120 is housed in a chunky cushion case with brushed finishing in a sunburst pattern that radiates outward from the dial. And what a dial it is--rings of bright orange interspersed among the more staid black and white, more commonly associated with models from Fortis. It's a treat to find a Vulcain branded model--particularly one with this outstanding movement and alarm.
If you want a watch that makes a statement, both visually and aurally, the Cricket is it.
Stainless steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown). Vulcain Caliber 120 Alarm Movement. Circa 1970s.
Overall Condition: Case is in excellent condition overall with only light signs of wear from age and use. Case brushing is deep and crisp. Dial is in fantastic condition with bright, vibrant colors. Shows light even patina to the luminescent elements on the hour markers and a faint scratch near 6:00. Signed case back has some light tool marks and scratches. Signed crown.
Includes one 22mm rubber Tropic strap.