Today I would like to talk about a tasteful yet funky chronograph that collectors have only in the past identified for it's alarm complication. For the sake of the article, I’ll call this the Vulcain “Maroon Panda” Chronograph.
This beauty went live on the site earlier this week and in our humble opinion brings tremendous value for anyone looking for a quality manual wound chronograph. Bought from a fellow young collector in my area (North NJ) I was amazed at how the crazy maroon dial works perfectly with the white hand set, hour indices, and tachymeter scale. It doesn't have a common dial color but I must say its aged tremendously well. Made in the early 1970’s during a time in the Swiss watch industry when the Japanese quartz crisis forced companies like Vulcain to collaborate with other manufacturers to save costs. In the end, it’s not all bad because we got left with some funky affordable chronographs!
The two things I love about vintage watches are value props and manual wind chronographs. Inside is the very simple yet reliable Valjoux cal 7733. It’s a ‘cam switched’ chronograph caliber that is seen very often in lower cost pieces from the 1970’s. It is very simple and was mass-produced but hey, it gets the job done. The maroon panda dial is enclosed in a 37mm chrome-plated case that seriously resembles a Wakmann from the same time period. If you noticed this similarity in the plate cases, then you were right since both companies collaborated in manufacturing the cases to save costs. Accompanying the case is the rather small-capped pushers that barely extend out of the case. It’s something that in my last article about the Gallet really bothers me but for the most part, these pushers are just larger enough that they are acceptable.
Looking at some more details on the maroon dial we have some refreshing white color contrasts going on. The outer tachymeter scale is proportioned very well along with the baton shaped hour indices. The two registers are properly placed in the dial leaving it symmetrical with a simple 10-20-30 minute scale on the chronograph register. Something also worth noting is the outer ring of the registers. They are almost a gold tone when looking at the right angle and I’ll do my best to get the proper picture to show this off. Moving towards the center of the dial, the maroon panda has some funky/ sporty baton hands with white tips, these go along nicely with the white print on the dial.
Wearing this Vulcain is a pleasure. It’s a casual yet sporty look that makes it wearable in most all places. The 37mm case is right in the middle of what you want in regards to vintage chronograph size. If there’s one complaint I’d have for the maroon panda it’s the lack of 19mm lugs. Yes, the 18mm lugs make it easier to fit more straps and bracelets, but that extra millimeter would have without a doubt impacted the wear ability and proportions better to the case. On the topic of straps, I decided to pair it with brown shell cordovan with middle stitching to keep it minimal. The brown cordovan has tastefully aged and matches the dial well. Any chrome plated watch case bring anxiety to anyone not used to anything but steel, in reality, if a chrome plated case like this has survived 40 years in this kind of condition it's seriously unlikely that the plating will have problems now.