Much has been said and written here about modern alarm complications, but it is worth noting that the alarm complication itself has a somewhat more humble origin in commercial diving. Vulcain’s naval pieces of the 1960s rung out some of the first mechanical alarm chimes. Since its introduction, a Swiss benefactor not associated with Vulcain has donated a Vulcain Cricket to each President of the US. Perhaps this will be its final claim to history, however, I would prefer to remember it for its radical dial and innovative movement.
With its diver’s decompression steps and a slot-drilled case back for underwater resonance, the Cricket was well ahead of its time. Water resistant to 300 meters, the Nautical Cricket was among the very first dive alarms. The watch performed well enough to be worn by Hannes Keller on his dives, the Swiss mathematician and inventor of decompression tables. Since then, Vulcain has not aged quite as gracefully as their period competition, Jaeger Lecoultre. Much like Universal Genève or Enicar, the quartz crisis halted Vulcain’s serious watchmaking efforts and relegated them to the back pages of vintage Chrono24 searches. This quite a shame, really. I’m certain the world is a worse place for its lack of creative approaches like this original cricket.
Shown here from Italian retailer Crab Watch, this original Cricket reference is about as perfect as they come. The hands and lume have aged beautifully, as have the decompression and chapter rings. The modern-sized 42mm case shows its few decades of honest wear well. The caseback really shows how little this example has been used with the engraving fonts barely worn.
Find this Nautical Cricket here from Crab Watch IT for an undisclosed sum.