Signature Time: Vacheron Constantin Unveils A New Complete Calendar Fiftysix With Help From James Bay
British pop star James Bay may be 28, but his music has timeless appeal. His soulful school of rock is familiar to folks who like John Mayer and Ed Sheeran, but he brings something fresh in his execution.
Like Mayer and Sheeran, Bay is something of a watch guy. He is one of the faces of Vacheron Constantin's 'One of Not Many' campaign, featuring the brand's Fiftysix collection. On Mother's Day, Bay helped unveil the new Complete Calendar Fiftysix Blue Dial before an intimate Artist’s Den concert taped for PBS at the legendary, newly reopened Webster Hall in New York.
Thanks to Vacheron, we got the meet and greet this new piece in the metal and hear Bay philosophize about time.
RHYTHM AND BLUES
Musically, Bay may work in a classic genre, but he is no old soul. The world is changing at a rapid rate, and the lanky Englishman embraces new methods of getting his songs out into the world.
“The appetite for music is immediate,” says Bay. “In the ’70s, David Bowie would release an album, and you would sit with it for a year until the next one came out. Now I can write a song today and release it tomorrow."
Case in point, earlier this month Bay surprised fans with an EP “Oh My Messy Mind.” It was a present for his die-hard audience (the Bay-Hive?), but the buzz also brought new listeners to the fold.
Watch brands are also experimenting with smaller releases and more direct methods of getting watches to buyers. They also recognize the diversity of their audiences (while we were in New York grooving to the Complete Calendar Fiftysix Blue Dial, Vacheron Constantin also introduced a new blue-hued Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin in Switzerland).
Part of the reason brands are resetting is because of social media. While the Complete Calendar Fiftysix Blue Dial debuted to much excitement at SIHH in January, so much has happened in the last five months—heck the last five days—that it's easy to forget what you saw back in the winter.
Which is why it’s good to pull back and do something personal to set yourself apart from the non-stop news cycle.
Bay is about to embark on a big arena tour opening up for Ed Sheeran, which is why he embraced the opportunity to do an intimate show at an iconic venue like Webster Hall. To break up the routine and recharge.
And while watchmaking can be big business, it is also still a creative endeavor. Vintage pieces from Vacheron's archives inspire the Fiftysix collection, but it is also a distillation of those ideas. It is not a reprise as much as an evolution.
“Creativity is about evolving all the time,” says Bay. Playing big venues and bringing out the hits and trying out new things in smaller spaces lets him find a balance between what he wants to do and what people want him to do. This is critical for a watch company as well. As Bay has discovered with his message: “You can do both.”
STYLE IS IMPORTANT
Bay has the whole classic rock star look locked down. Long, flowing black hair, tight t-shirts, and jeans, the occasional kerchief tied rakishly around the neck, and, a big signature hat. Bay throws of a Nashville vibe, but with an elegant English touch.
Which is another reason why Bay makes a great frontman for the Fiftysix collection. Introduced in 2018, this family of entry-level (for Vacheron) timepieces was created to give something fresh to a new generation of watch buyers.
This year’s addition of a blue dial to a stripped down Calendar watch makes a more significant impact in person than on the page. The sunray finish provides depth without clutter. What elevates this 40 mm x 11.6 mm, stainless steel timepiece is the execution. The depth of the blue enamel is flawless. Thoughtful details such as a railroad track for the hours make the piece appear more dynamic than your standard formal watch.
The automatic Caliber 2460 QCL/1 watch also has so many desirable functions, such as hours, minutes, seconds; date, weekday, month, and a moon phase plus a power reserve of 40 hours.
Like Bay, it’s a classic in the making.
MUSIC FOR THE PEOPLE
Being innovative also means being more inclusive. Vacheron Constantin has reached out to buyers by widening its distribution and launching the accessibly priced watches Fiftysix collection in 2018.
The Complete Calendar Fiftysix Blue Dial is attractive to someone looking to make their first important luxury watch purchase. But it is interesting because it takes the wearer's lifestyle into account as well. The new Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin and the Fiftysix Complete Calendar share the same parents and many of the same complications, but the more casual Fiftysix has a different outlook on life.
“I’m not looking at a clock onstage,” says Bay, who prefers to live in the moment. And although he was talking about his musical inspirations, we think that this quote sums up Vacheron Constantin's approach to its message: "You can always approach things differently."