THE VERY FIRST MOMENT
24-year-old master watchmaker, Jean-Marc Vacheron, signs on his first apprentice, thus founding a business by making clear his intention to hand down his skills. This contract can therefore be regarded as Vacheron Constantin’s birth certificate, making it the oldest watch manufacturer in continuous operation since it was founded.
THE EARLIEST POCKET-WATCH MADE BY JEAN-MARC VACHERON
The pride of Vacheron Constantin’s heritage, this silver watch signed J. M: Vacheron A GENEVE on the movement is the only timepiece known that identifies the company’s founder by his first name.
Fitted with a verge escapement, it features finely crafted hands in gold. The balance cock, the most visible part of the movement, also demonstrates high-grade workmanship in delicate arabesques. This two-fold technical and aesthetic standard was to gradually forge the identity of the Maison.
THE SUCCESSOR: ABRAHAM VACHERON
In 1785, Jean-Marc Vacheron’s son, Abraham (1760-1843), takes over the workshops. He managed to keep the enterprise going despite the troubles following the French Revolution and the occupation of Geneva by the troops of the French Directory.
Following the lead given by his father, he taught the watchmaker’s trade to his son, Jacques Barthélémi Vacheron.
THE NEW ERA OF JEAN-MARC VACHERON’S GRANDSON
Jean-Marc Vacheron’s grandson, Jacques Barthélémi Vacheron (1787-1864), assumes the management of the family enterprise.
The company produces more complicated timepieces, such as musical watches with two different tunes. Jacques Barthélémi Vacheron oversees the first exports of his products to France and Italy.
MASTERING COMPLICATIONS EARLY ON
A horological complication is an additional function in a watch aside from the indication of the hours and minutes. This quarter repeater watch with enamel dial, guilloché and engraved case back from the Vacheron Constantin collection is representative of the early watchmaking technical mastering of the Maison.
THE ENCOUNTER WITH FRANÇOIS CONSTANTIN
The partnership between Jacques Barthélémi Vacheron (1787-1864), grandson of the founder, and experienced businessman, François Constantin (1788-1854), gives the company a new name — Vacheron et Constantin.
THE BIRTH OF A MOTTO
The two Genevese shared the same interest in sophisticated and complicated watches. François Constantin had a keen eye for business, opening a number of new markets during three decades of traveling for the company. On July 5, 1819 François Constantin wrote to his new partner, Jacques Barthélémi Vacheron from Turin. His letter contained the phrase that was to become the company’s motto:
“Do better if possible, and that is always possible.”
EARLY WATCHMAKING CRAFTSMANSHIP
This yellow gold pocket watch is subtly decorated with a map of Italy, engraved and enameled using the champlevé technique. Its entirely guilloché silvery dial is decorated with 12 enameled Roman numerals arranged in an hour circle. The small seconds guilloché subdial also features an astonishingly modern checkerboard pattern. The attention to detail and perfection in the craftsmanship are characteristic of the Genevan decorative tradition.
THE PANTOGRAPH LAUNCHES A TECHNICAL RENAISSANCE
In 1844, the Arts Society awards the Rive Prize’s gold medal to Messrs Vacheron & Constantin and G.-A. Leschot for “the discovery of the most value to the Genevese industry.”
THE REVOLUTION OF THE POCKET-CHRONOMETER
The story of watchmaking is that of a quest for ultimate precision.
The plot twists with every upheaval affecting the world and society. Marine chronometers, for example, opened an era of scientific horology driven by technical progress that benefited all the timepieces of the period.
One of them is this pocket-chronometer in a yellow gold hunting case and a white enamel dial. It is regulated by the ultra-precise detent escapement used in a marine chronometer.
The establishment of chronometry competitions in many European countries during the 19th century encourages watchmakers to improve their performance for prestigious awards.
Vacheron Constantin entered its watches in the first chronometry competitions at the renowned Geneva Observatory, winning the distinctions that ushered in a century of record-breaking achievements.
THE BIRTH OF THE MALTESE CROSS LOGO
Vacheron Constantin’s Maltese cross symbol is registered with the Swiss federal trademarks office in Bern. Chosen to represent the company’s quest for precision, it was taken from the design of a movement component mounted on the barrel cover to secure the most constant force from the spring and thereby achieve a better rate.
THE ORIGINAL LADY'S WRISTWATCH
This lady’s watch is one of the first series-produced wristwatches. Its advent caused quite a stir, because until the early 20th century the pocket-watch had no rivals. The watch is held by a delicately engraved and finely worked mounting on a magnificent bracelet featuring two winged goddesses, while the dial is encircled with a setting of diamonds. Because a winding crown would intrude on the balanced design, the company developed an ingenious device to set the time by turning the bezel.
THE POCKET-WATCH IN CLOISONNÉ ENAMELS
At the Milan International Exhibition of 1906, Vacheron Constantin presented a collection of watches of such beauty that the jury awarded the company the exhibition’s Grand Prix. One of the pieces of the Milan collection is this yellow-gold pocket watch. A superbly executed pattern of thistles in cloisonné enamel adorns the back while the two-tone silvered dial displays a finely hand-made guilloche at the center. This watch is typical of the jewelry pieces Vacheron Constantin created at this time. Its decorative features represent the Genevan tradition at the epitome of sophistication.
THE FIRST BOUTIQUE OPENS ITS DOORS
During the first years of the 20th century, Vacheron Constantin was getting orders from the likes of Queen Mary of Romania, the brothers Henry and William James and Prince Napoleon, the grandson of Jerome Bonaparte.
In order to display its luxury watches in appropriate surroundings, Vacheron Constantin inaugurated its first shop on August 1, 1906 on the ground floor of the island building. Clients were previously welcomed in the salons on the upper floors.
THE ROYAL CHRONOMETER POCKET-WATCH
In 1907, the Maison presents its first Royal Chronometer and has the name of the model registered. This pocket-chronometer, which was unlike any other watch produced at that time, soon became an international hit. Its legendary toughness, reliability and accuracy were much appreciated by owners in harsh climates hitherto considered detrimental to the proper functioning of a watch.
THE WRISTWATCH OF A MONARCH: THE MAHARAJA OF PATIALA
During 1914 and 1915, the Maison created a small oblong movement called le tuyau (the pipe). A forerunner of the baguette movement, 26 mm long and 6.5 mm thick, this caliber was used in a curved version for an absolutely stunning wristwatch. Made of gold, platinum, and diamonds, the watch stands out thanks to the ingenious craftsmanship of its openworked, chased, and engraved case. This presumably unique piece was commissioned by Sir Bhupinder Singh, Maharaja of Patiala.
THE COMPLEX MECHANISM OF THE PACKARD WATCH
Behind its seeming simplicity, this pocket watch hides an exceptionally complex mechanism.
Created for the famous American automobile manufacturer and watch collector James Ward Packard, this piece combines several particularly unique complications: chronograph with 30-minute counter, petite sonnerie and grande sonnerie, and quarter hours and half-quarter hours repeater. Among its other features are the Guillaume compensation balance, a rock crystal glass, and a chased case in 20K gold, personalized with the owner’s monogram in blue enamel champlevé.
THE CREATIVE SPIRIT TO CONQUER THE AMERICAN MARKET
The cushion-shape design has been part of the Vacheron Constantin portfolio since the late 1910s. In the Roaring Twenties, pocket watches were still dominating the trends. Wearing this type of wristwatch was a strong sign of modernity that enjoyed great success among the American clientele. This rare model is made unusual by the position of the crown at 1 o’clock. It was produced for left and right-handed people for a short period of 10 years. The early wristwatch movements were based on pendant watch movement constructions. Referenced under caliber 11’’’ ART, they were finished using classical pocket watch finishes such as gilt bridges and main plates. Within these calibers, a special finishing was reserved for the American market, which was known for its demanding customers. The variations were caliber 11’’’62 and 11’’’78, which were equipped with an extra ruby. Their bridges and mainplates were usually made in German Silver alloy, which naturally protected them against corrosion.
GRAND COMPLICATION POCKET-WATCH
In 1929 the Swiss residents of Egypt presented this timepiece to King Fuad I. It combines a chronograph, a perpetual calendar, a minute-repeater and a grand/small-strike clockwatch in a masterstroke of watchmaking. The royal arms in enamels decorate the caseback. The yellow-gold pocket-watch has a silvered dial with 10 Arabic numerals in black, an aperture for the days and dates at 12 o'clock, a subdial for the months and years at 9 o'clock, a 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock and the ages and phases of the moon with the small seconds at 6 o'clock.
THE FIRST WORLD TIME WATCH WITH 31 TIME ZONES
In 1932, Vacheron Constantin's collaboration with Louis Cottier led to the creation of the first watch featuring the Cottier system, the Heure Universelle, reference number 3372. Its unique mechanical movement features 24 time zones by means of a disk that rotates around the central dial and by an outer bezel on which are written the names of 31 major international cities. A new complication that responded perfectly to the evolving means of communication and transport. Ever-present within the Maison’s current collections, this complication has undergone multiple developments often linked to the geopolitical situation of different countries.
THE ROYAL MASTERPIECE CREATED FOR KING FAROUK
Vacheron Constantin created one of its most complicated watches for King Farouk, son of King Fuad I of Egypt, who inherited his father’s appreciation of fine watchmaking. It took five years to complete this masterpiece, featuring 14 complications. This striking watch with two gear trains is made of 18K yellow gold. It features a carillon minute repeater with grande and petite sonneries, equipped with three gongs and three hammers, a split-seconds chronograph and 30-minute counter, a perpetual calendar, a moon phase and moon age indicator, an alarm, and two power reserve indicators.
THE ICON, THE OSCAR, THE WATCH
The famous American actor Marlon Brando received this Ref. 4877 watch with handmade guilloché dial as a gift from Zsa Zsa Gabor on June 24th 1954, to celebrate his Oscar as Best Actor. Today, this unique timepiece engraved on the back with the dedication from Zsa Zsa Gabor is in the Heritage Private Collection of the Vacheron Constantin Maison.
THE ULTRA-THIN WRISTWATCH
At the occasion of its bicentennial, Vacheron Constantin confirms its commitment to creating the most elegant watches.
The Maison launches the thinnest ever manually wound movement; at 1.64 mm, it is as thin as a Swiss 20 cent coin. The caliber 1003, bearing the Hallmark of Geneva, has become representative of the ultra-thin movements.
THE WRIST CHRONOGRAPH WITH A TACHOMETER SCALE
Featuring magnificent horned lugs, this anti-magnetic and water-resistant case in yellow gold protects a column-wheel chronograph movement with an elapsed-time counter. A shield of soft iron protects the movement from magnetic fields. The dial displays a 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock and small seconds at 9 o'clock. The evolved styling of this watch makes it one of the most handsome chronographs of its era.
THE REFERENCE 6073
A classic dial, an audacious case, and avant-garde technical components. Model 6073 is the testimony of the Maison's creativity and watchmaking sophistication in the 1950s. It is still an outstanding piece in more ways than one. Round, thin, elegant – a timepiece with a unique case where each lug represents a part of the Maltese Cross.
VACHERON CONSTANTIN’S CLASSIC STYLING
Conceived in the 1950s, when elegance returned to the forefront, this ultra-thin conventional round watch embodied Vacheron Constantin’s classical styling, while offering outstanding reliability. The absence of extraneous decoration and the controlled design are all that is required, provided that every detail serves to accentuate the clean lines and the beauty of a timeless design. In 2004, the Patrimony model paid full honor to this iconic style in a reinvention of the classic look.
THE ACHIEVEMENT WITH DIPLÔME DU PRESTIGE DE LA FRANCE
In June 1972, the French government awards Vacheron Constantin the rare and coveted Diplôme du Prestige de la France. Vacheron Constantin brought out a new design wristwatch that featured an asymmetrical curved case and an oval movement. Vacheron Constantin thus became the first watchmaking company to win such an honor.
THE GREAT ADVENTURE 222
Launched in 1977 as a celebration of the Maison's 222nd anniversary. Its monobloc case on a fitted bracelet features a porthole-style screw-held bezel providing resistance to hard wear in a harsh environment. Thanks to its unique character, this iconic model has become over the past 40 years one of the most recognizable Vacheron Constantin designs, inspiring the other recognizable line, the Overseas collection.
THE DAZZLING TOUR DE FORCE
Carved out of a one-kilo gold ingot and set with 118 diamonds totaling 130 carats, the Kallista model (Greek for “most beautiful”) is one of the most dazzling horological creations. It took five years to cut and assemble all the diamonds and more than 6,000 hours of work to complete the masterpiece.
THE WORLD’S THINNEST MINUTE-REPEATER: CALIBRE 1755
Mindful of its tradition of mastering ultra-thin movements, the Maison recreated a minute-repeating movement in the style of those it produced in the 1940s. Launched in 1992, the calibre 1755 became the world’s thinnest minute-repeater - total thickness of only 3.28mm.
THE TRIBUTE TO MERCATOR
The art of enameling has always been practiced by the firm and has been associated with different models, the best known of which is dedicated to Mercator (1512-1594).
This Flemish mathematician and geographer, whose real name was Gerhard Kremer, drew the first flat projections of the globe for navigators.
Traveling is a major and recurrent theme at Vacheron Constantin, so the company decided to mark the 400th anniversary of the cartographer’s death by launching a collection in his name.
The dial reproduces in enamels the maps of the hemispheres drawn by Mercator himself, and the retrograde hands in the shape of dividers were devised especially for the occasion.
THE SPIRIT OF TRAVEL
1996 marks the birth of the Overseas collection with which Vacheron Constantin embraces the technical and sports side of fine watchmaking. The structural design of this watch with its naturally elegant and clean lines takes up the contemporary theme of travel. The pure styling reflects its mechanical excellence.
THE UNIQUENESS OF LADY KALLA
Vacheron Constantin won the "Aiguille d'Or" - the very first Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève with the Lady Kalla high jewelry timepiece.
THE REBIRTH OF THE PATRIMONY
Circular perfection, a quest for essentials: the Patrimony collection is the epitome of stylistic pureness. Relaunched in 2004 reflecting a deliberately minimalist approach striking a beautiful balance between taut lines and curves, it asserts its personality through slender cases radiating an elegance inspired by 1950s Vacheron Constantin models.
THE INTERNATIONAL HEADQUARTERS OPEN IN PLAN-LES-OUATES (SWITZERLAND)
On August 9, 2004, Vacheron Constantin takes possession of its new Manufacture in Plan‑les-Ouates.
The contemporary building - designed by the famous architect Bernard Tschumi - in the shape of a stylized Maltese cross cut in half, brings together the management, administration and the workshops under a same roof.
THE CELEBRATION OF 250 YEARS OF EXCEPTIONAL CRAFTSMANSHIP
To commemorate its quarter millennium, Vacheron Constantin launches a collection of five outstanding creations that pay tribute to all the crafts involved in the Maison art of watchmaking.
At this occasion, the Maison presented a unique mystery clock in a pink-gold sphere engraved by hand which reveals a highly complicated watch and the Tour de l'Île watch, the most complicated watch ever made.
The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève awarded the "Aiguille d'Or" Grand Prize to Vacheron Constantin’s Tour de l'Île watch.
THE MYSTERIOUS COLLECTION LES MASQUES
In 2007, Vacheron Constantin presented the Métiers d'Art Les Masques collection. A long journey took its master watchmakers through time and space, in search of the very roots of humanity and a reflection on one of the most beautiful expressions of the human soul. As a result, twelve masks were selected from the Barbier-Mueller collection to be reproduced in gold. They sit majestically in the center of the dial. This collection inherently reflects the history of Vacheron Constantin and its spirit of openness to the world.
THE ORIGIN OF SWISS WATCHMAKING CULTURE
To comemorate the 65 years of diplomatic collaboration between Switzerland and the People's Republic of China, Vacheron Constantin Manufacture was invited to participate in the "Geneva at the Heart of Time - The Origin of Swiss Watchmaking Culture" exhibition, showing the 350 main and exclusive timepieces of the Vacheron Constantin Private Collection.
THE ULTIMATE REFERENCE 57260 - 260TH ANNIVERSARY
Revealed on September 17th 2015, at the occasion of the 260th anniversary of the Maison, Reference 57260 is the most complicated watch ever made. It was conceived over a period of 8 years and combines a total of 57 complications. Commissioned by a passionate collector, Reference 57260 is part of Les Cabinotiers service, perpetuating our tradition of excellence tailored to individual desires.
The Grand Prix de l'Horlogerie de Genève awarded the Jury's Prize to Vacheron Constantin's 57260.
THE CELESTIA ASTRONOMICAL GRAND COMPLICATION
Vacheron Constantin introduced Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600, an exceptionally complicated timepiece. Its caliber 3600, a mechanical manual-winding movement comprising 23 complications also includes three distinct times driven by three dedicated gear trains. A three-week power reserve is ensured by six barrels, coupled by threes. A true feat of miniaturisation and engineering, this caliber measuring just 8.7 mm thick includes a total of 514 components. The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève has awarded the Mechanical Exception Watch Prize to Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Celestia Astronomical Grand Complication 3600.
THE RELEASE OF THE FIFTYSIX
Fiftysix, a name and a date evoking an iconic model by Vacheron Constantin dating from 1956. This modern, elegant and relaxed collection with its resolutely cosmopolitan style expresses its personality through the contrast between the classic dial and the daring case. The latter is notably inspired by the Maltese cross-shaped emblem of the Maison that is also picked up on the openworked pink gold oscillating weight.
THE "ONE OF NOT MANY" SPIRIT
The signature of the new Vacheron Constantin communication campaign defines the exceptional universe it has embodied for more than 260 years. In the prestigious realm of Fine Watchmaking, it is a Maison for connoisseurs, profoundly attached to human values and enriched by expertise passed on across generations of master watchmakers and artisans.
"Within an already highly exclusive segment, our Maison is committed to maintaining a unique and sophisticated character. In this respect we are resolutely 'One of not Many.'" Louis Ferla.
Vacheron Constantin is proud to be performing a duet with Abbey Road Studios, based on a musical score in which their virtuosity is fully expressed and will be steadily enriched over the coming months and years. This collaboration perfectly chimes with One of not Many. The two Maisons are acknowledged experts in their respective fields, exceptions within their community, sharing the same values based on their passion, their expertise, as well as their perpetual quest for excellence through exploration, innovation, and perpetual self-renewal.