Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vulcain Cricket - the (semi) untold story

Okay, I realize that many of you out there have never been to Finland, and even if you have, you may not have visited Helsinki.  And even if you have visited Helsinki, you may never have visited a small family jeweler down town just off the Esplanade.  And unless you were there between 1995 and 2000 or 2001, you would not have cause to know that in that little shop they were selling the Vulcain Cricket - AND - they were maintaining the tradition of presenting a Vulcain Cricket watch to any US president who happened to have visited Finland.  This tradition started with Harry Truman and continued for a brief period, but then stopped for many years.  Vulcain presented a watch to Truman, to Eisenhower and to LBJ.  And while it is true that later presidents received one, it was not from Vulcain.

Flash forward about 30 years or so.  It was simply dumb luck that I discovered the Vulcain Cricket one day.   It was a Friday afternoon and I had just returned to Helsinki after my Summer teaching job at St. Andrews in Scotland.  I had finished a teaching job with Nokia,  not too far away and had some time to kill, and so I was doing some window shopping.  At the time I was obsessed with the idea of owning a Rolex GMT with the blue and red bezel - confession time, I am a HARD CORE Magnum PI fan all the way back to jump street.


And there it was in a window on the first floor of a shopping center.  There were stainless steel, and stainless steel with gold bezels.  It was beyond infatuation, but not quite love, not yet...
This is not one of the Vulcain Crickets that was presented to the US Presidents past and present in Finland.  This is the one that the new Vulcain company presented to President Obama following his inauguration and the photo is courtesy of the Vulcain Press/PR department, so credit please where it is due.

Not so long ago, Vulcain was bought and sold once again.  They have definitely put some research and development money into the new line, and they are beautiful watches.

To be clear, I think that it is wonderful that Vulcain is back and making the Cricket again.  But for those of you who were not aware, the brand for at least a small period of time was owned and operated by Revue Thommen.  And under special license they produced and manufactured a limited number of "Vulcain Cricket" watches for this jeweler in Helsinki.  The jeweler would then present one each time a US President or former US President would visit Finland.  The list included Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (I believe) and Bill Clinton as well as George Bush Senior.  Let's be clear about something - this was not the watch company stumping up the money to do so, this was a small family jeweler that did this.  This was just as the internet was in its infancy (certainly by today's standards) and the Facebook founders were probably years away from even working on their college applications.  In other words - from a PR perspective - there was not much in it for them.

So remember that it is not always a large company backing PR initiatives, and giving things away.  Sometimes it is a small family business far away from the watch making world, doing it because of their passion for what they are selling.

To see today's Vulcain watches, you can check out their collection here:

http://www.vulcain-watches.ch/

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