Back in 1858 in La Chaux de Fonds, a small company was founded by Jacque Ditisheim and his three sons; Gaspard, Aaron and Maurice. Like many watchmakers during this time, Vulcain started out specialising in pocket watches before branching out into wristwatches for military use during the 1940s for use during the Second World War. During this era, the company was managed by Maurice’s son who renamed the company after the German name for God of fire and volcanoes.
During the year 1942, a member of the company went some way to researching ways to overcome obstacles associated with the alarm function of a watch and designed the Calibre 120. He spent another 5 years perfecting how it would carry noise similar to a cricket. Hence where the roots of the iconic Cricket watch began growing. The movement was a ground breaking innovation and the Cricket was made public in 1947 which went on to win the international Chronometry competition at the Neuchatel observatory. When Harry S Trueman was presented with a 14k gold version of the Vulcain Cricket, it began its connection with the White House, bestowing various heads of the state with a refined timekeeping tool that would go on to acquire the name “President’s watch”. The Cricket Nautical followed, with a 200 meter water resistant case, as well as the lady's smaller Golden Voice iteration.
During the quartz crisis, Vulcain was forced to slow down its manufacture of mechanical wristwatches, yet the brand showed great resistance refusing to adapt to new technologies in the quartz field. In 1988 Robert Ditisheim’s son Michael was approached by a Finnish jeweller named Keijo Paajanen with a suggestion to reinstate the practice of gifting the Cricket watch to American Presidents during state visits. Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr. and Gerald Ford all received their very own timepiece. Vulcain officially relaunched in 2001 along with the new Calibre V 21 fitted with an alarm and a more technical, fully decorated arrangement for better performance and precision. It now features in the 50’s President watch. The design concept comes in many variations. The sub-divisions include the Vulcain 50’s President Moonphase, Chronograph, Moon, Special and Chrono.
The rest of Vulcain’s catalogue revive and enliven a very interesting brand history. For a company that set the standard for a mechanical alarm watch back in the 1940’s, Vulcain remains a brand that continues to stand for daring innovation. Although for a while the Vulcain name vanished from the surface of dials, and its alarm movements were used in its sister brand, Revue Thommens, Vulcain has shown strength and perseverance illuminating the importance of its heritage through its modern wristwatches which are now designed and developed in its Le-Locle, based manufacturing facilities in Switzerland.