• The NAWCC Museum and Library & Research Center are currently open. Please check the Visiting Schedule for Days and Hours at the bottom of the Visit Page.

Old Vulcain Cricket, 14k, info desired

bobg171

Registered User
Mar 10, 2011
8
0
0
Cape Cod, Ma
Some background:
While during my freshman year in the late 60's, I found this wrist watch while walking across campus. I attempted to locate it's owner. However, it was a large campus, and there were often visiting lecturers, and unfortunately I didn't succeed.
Truthfully, I completely forgot about the watch until I recently found it in a drawer in my guest house some 40 years later.
It's a Vulcain Cricket. The first wrist watch featuring a working alarm feature. It's 14k. It runs beautifully, and the alarm still functions perfectly and right on time. I suppose that shouldn't surprise me since it sat unused, resting for over 40 years.;)
I'd like to get some background on the watch. I took it to a very good jeweler recently, and he opened the back and it looked pristine. Running silently and smoothly. But he was unable to narrow down it's age despite of all his reference material.
I contacted Vulcain Watches in Switzerland, and all they could tell me was it looked to be between 1947-late 1950's.
I was wondering is any forum members could narrow it down more than that, or have any additinal data on the watch? I have several, old wrist watches that I wear, and I intend to keep this one as it's so refined.
I've attached photos for your review.

Thank you,
bobg171 86568.jpg 86569.jpg 86570.jpg 86571.jpg
 

doug sinclair

Registered User
Aug 27, 2000
14,364
60
48
Calgary, Alberta
Country
Region
Welcome,

I am unble to give you a lot of information regarding the Vulcain Cricket,but I can give you a snippet. In the NAWCC BULLETIN, August 2008, issue 375, Bruce Shawkey writes the the Vulcain Cricket has the reputation of being the "President's watch". A Vulcain Cricket (according to the article) was presented to every US President since 1953, from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton. The NAWCC Museum in Columbia, PA recently did an exhibit on Presidents's watches, and I'll bet the Cricket was mentioned. The newspaper in Columbia, PA, did an article on the exhibit at the time. If you Google US PRESIDENT'S WATCHES, the article in the newspaper is mentioned. I didn't poke around enough to find out if that article might be available on line, and how to get it. But this might give you a leg up in finding more information. I've seen lots of these over the decades, but never one in a 14-karat case.
 

bobg171

Registered User
Mar 10, 2011
8
0
0
Cape Cod, Ma
Doug,
Thank you so much for the reply.
As I mentioned, I found this watch in my dresser, where it's been sitting for over four decades. I honestly don't know what I find more fascinating, the fact that I have an elegant antique watch I never knew about, or the history associated with the brand. Truthfully, I never heard of the name Vulcain until I began to research this.
As part of that process, I've found many Vulcain's at auction at various internet auction sites, including Ebay. While many have been gold plated, all had stainless backs. I've even taken the time to contact the sellers just to pick their brain, and see if they could enlighten me. But just like you said, this was the only one I've seen that was 14k throughout.
Several weeks back, I emailed the Vulcain Company in Switzerland, about 1. Giving me it's exact age, 2. Reconditioning/cleaning it.
Frankly, they were completely nonplussed. Almost disinterested. They told me they would forward my inquiry to a couple of their senior associates, but told me this might take weeks, and not to expect much. Also, they are not really equiped to recondition antique watches. Even theirs.
The jeweler I took it to told me he doubts it even needs a cleaning, as it was running perfectly, and keeping near perfect time, in spite of the fact it was perhaps 65 years old..
 

premc121

NAWCC Member
Jan 30, 2010
61
0
0
Victoria B.C.
www.primetimecanada.com
Country
Region
Hi All, Doug, thanks for your comments,
Vulcain made the only workable first prototype of the alarm watch that was so loud it could wake up it's owner, what you have at hand, is one of the first versions. I have seen several of these, the prototype was so famous, issued early 1946-1947 that they decided to market the item in the United states as well. Well, the owner of Vulcain, Paul Ditisheim and sons, even protected their copyright in the US by asking for, and getting the subsequent patents on their world famous movement.
This movement was the calibre 120 Vulcain alarm feature.
A very famous quote, during one of the press conferences, one of those awkward silences, one of the staffers at the White house was startled by the Vulcain alarm going off on President Dwight Eisenhower's wrist- the moment was caught on camera, and as is wont- the advertisement blitz that followed rocketed Vulcain to it's highest heights, and all this was in the late 1940's. Dwight Eisenhower, he loved his Vulcain Cricket watch to the extreme, and since those days it veritably set a precedent. All heads of state in the US wore them in the future years and some continuously, they are Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon.
(That is the movement you have on your watch- the early versions of the famous ''Cricket'') However, also during these times, several jealous companies got into the act and started to copy Vulcain and it's world beating alarm movement, it was so ingrained in mainstream US, that even as President's wore them.:cool:people started buying them in their thousands.
What is especially great about Vulcain calibre 120 is it's ability to be a constant source of amazement to me, this is in the time when every piece was literally crafted from hand. :cool:
Yes it was loud, and yes it woke you up from the deepest slumber. In the years to follow, Vulcain made a lot of changes to this unique calibre, and fraught with lawsuits, a direct result from the many challenges it faced with Swiss companies trying to emulate their success, they eventually succumbed to a late 1970's Japanese invasion of cheap quartz watches. I have seen their revival recently, and to much happiness. For I love mechanical alarm watches, if you collect them as dearly as I do, I will say truly it is an understated and undervalued feature of lovely and classic watchmaking. Jeff Horlbecks book on alarm watches. ''The alarm wrist watch'' history of an undervalued feature is a must have, it doctrines the rise of the machine on the wrist, and indeed it was a precedent set by VULCAIN. This is the great calibre that is on your wrist. (I own several of them...lol...) ;)
best regards from Victoria B.C.
Prem C.
 

watchwatch247

New Member
Jan 16, 2021
2
0
1
31
Country
Hi Bob,

Did you ever find out more information about your watch?

I'm looking into buying a Vulcain Cricket and, so far, I think that's the most beautiful model I've come across!

I'd love to have more details about it so that I could try to find a place to buy the same model.

Thanks,

David
 

JTD

Registered User
Sep 27, 2005
8,295
655
113
Country
Hi Bob,

Did you ever find out more information about your watch?

I'm looking into buying a Vulcain Cricket and, so far, I think that's the most beautiful model I've come across!

I'd love to have more details about it so that I could try to find a place to buy the same model.

Thanks,

David
Bob hasn't been seen on the board since 2011, so he may not see your enquiry.

JTD
 

Dave Haynes

Registered User
Sep 12, 2000
1,309
10
38
Try to find a Cricket to buy, very difficult. I've owned many of the various alarm watches, Memovox, Seiko, Bulova, Omega, there were dozens of Swiss ones all using the AS 1475 movement. I left a lot of my hearing in Vietnam and none of the mentioned watches would even get my attention let alone wake me up. The Seiko Bellmatics are the end game of alarm watches, they are so complicated that I doubt that you could find someone to service one today. They came in 17 and 28J models. Almost the same movement since many of the jewels are just stuck on a plate and do absolutely nothing. My 28J example was one of the few really complicated movements I would try and it came out fine, everything works as designed. A stroke of luck on my part. 20 years ago you could not source a new spring for the alarm section. Seiko's policy (in those days) was to only stock parts for 5 years. CasKar was the place to ask. I'd hang on to that Cricket, in 14K it is a rare one. It probably was last serviced with synthetic lubricants and probably still works just fine.
 
Know Your NAWCC Forums Rules!
RULES & GUIDELINES

Find member

Forum statistics

Threads
163,462
Messages
1,420,350
Members
84,867
Latest member
JReyes11
Encyclopedia Pages
1,101
Total wiki contributions
2,857
Last edit
Aurora's 15 Ruby Jewel Movements by Greg Frauenhoff

514 Poplar Street
Columbia, PA 17512

Phone: 717-684-8261

Contact the Webmaster for perceived copyright infringement (DMCA Registration Number 1010287).

Copyright © National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Inc (A 501c3 non-profit corporation). All Rights Reserved.

The NAWCC is dedicated to providing association services, promoting interest in and encouraging the collecting of clocks and watches including disseminating knowledge of the same.