266 YEARS OF ENDURING HISTORY
Since 1755, watchmaking excellence has been a perpetual quest. But beyond this great history, there are many stories that are worth being uncovered and revealed.
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.
JEAN-MARC VACHERON’S GRANDSON TAKES OVER THE BUSINESS
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 travelling 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 watch in yellow gold has a case exquisitely decorated with a map of Italy in blue champlevé enamels. Its two-tone dial features 12 roman numerals ringed by a minutes scale, and small seconds at 6 o'clock.
The attention to detail and exactitude of the workmanship are typical of the Geneva decorative tradition.
THE PANTOGRAPH LAUNCHES A TECHNICAL RENAISSANCE
Among the many inventions of G.A Leschot, the pantograph, which allows the standard manufacture of parts and components of the calibers, declined in several sizes. It was awarded the prestigious Prix de la Rive in 1844 by the Arts Society, for “the discovery of the most value to the Genevese industry.”
The establishment of chronometry competitions in many European countries during the 19th century encouraged watchmakers to improve their performance for prestigious prizes. Pretty early, Vacheron Constantin entered its watches in the chronometry competitions of the Geneva Observatory, winning the distinctions that inaugurated a century of records. Opposite, a round chronometer pocket watch, in 18K yellow gold, small seconds at 6 o'clock, white enamel dial with 11 Roman numerals and external minute track, dated 1869.
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.
A LADY’S WRISTWATCH
This watch is one of the first wristwatches produced for ladies. 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.
POCKET-WATCH IN CLOISONNÉ ENAMELS
Vacheron Constantin presented at the Milan International Exhibition of 1906, a collection of watches of such beauty that the jury awarded the company the exhibition’s Grand Prix.
This yellow-gold pocket watch was part of the collection. 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. Its decorative features represent the Genevan tradition at the epitome of sophistication.
THE FIRST BOUTIQUE OPENS ITS DOORS
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Maison started to get orders from the likes of Queen Mary of Rumania, 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, in Geneva.
THE ROYAL CHRONOMETER POCKET-WATCH
In 1907, the Maison presents its first Royal Chronometer, which was unlike any other watch produced at that time and 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.
WRISTWATCH FOR THE MAHARAJA OF PATIALA
During 1914 and 1915, the company creates a tiny oblong movement called “le tuyau” — the pipe. Only 26mm long and 6.5mm wide, it was the forbear of the baguette movement, which was notably used in a curved version made in 1916 for this lady’s bracelet a unique piece acquired by the Maharaja of Patiala, Sir Bhupinder Singh. Made of gold and diamonds, it is noted for the ingenious workmanship of its openworked, chased and engraved case. Its baguette movement on a curved rectangular baseplate allows the time to be viewed in profile. Twelve Arabic numerals adorn a dial of frosted silver.
Behind its apparent simplicity, this clockwatch made for the American automobile engineer and horological collector, James Ward Packard, hides an exceptionally complex mechanism.
The clockwatch rings the hours and quarters in passing in the grand strike mode, while the small strike omits the hours at each quarter. In addition, this extraordinary timepiece strikes the half-quarters. Among its other features are a Guillaume compensation balance, a rock-crystal glass and a 20-carat gold engraved case with the owner’s monogram in blue enamel on the back.
A WRISTWATCH FOR THE AMERICAN MARKET
This avant-garde wristwatch in a cushion case was produced in secret for the American market during the roaring twenties. The crown at 1 o'clock, and the position of the white enamel dial with its 11 arabic numerals, minutes scale and small seconds, showed the time at a glance.
This remarkable watch, in keeping with the adventurous mood of the 1920s, reflects Vacheron Constantin’s skills and creative spirit. This emblematic model was reincarnated in 2008 with the launch of the «Historiques American 21» watch.
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 enamel decorate the caseback. The yellow-gold pocket-watch has a silvered dial with 10 arabic numerals in black, an aperture for the day and date at 12 o'clock, a subdial for the month and year at 9 o'clock, a 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock and the age and phases of the moon with the small seconds at 6 o'clock.
THE FIRST WORLD TIME WATCH WITH 31 TIME ZONES
In 1932, a collaboration with Mr. Cottier resulted in the creation of the very first «Cottier system» World Time watch - known as ref. 3372. Its unique mechanical movement shows 24 time zones using a disc rotating around the central dial and an external bezel on which are inscribed the names of 31 major world cities. It was the first-born of a useful complication still present in our offer today.
CREATING A WATCH FOR KING FAROUK
Vacheron Constantin creates 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 compete this masterpiece, combining 14 complications.
MARLON BRANDO WEARS A VACHERON CONSTANTIN TO RECEIVE HIS OSCAR
The famous American actor Marlon Brando received this watch ref. 4877 with handmade guilloché dial as a gift from Zsa Zsa Gabor on the 24th June 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 Vacheron Constantin Maison.
THE ULTRA-THIN WRISTWATCH
At the occasion of its bicentury, the Maison restates its vocation of creating mostly elegant watches. The Maison launches the thinnest ever manually wound movement; at 1.64mm it is a thin as a Swiss 20 cents coin. The calibre 1003, today 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.
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 honours to this iconic style in a reinvention of the classic look.
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. The Maison launched 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 honour.
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.
A DAZZLING TOUR DE FORCE
Carved out of a one-kilo gold ingot and set with 118 diamonds totalling 130 carats, the Kallista model (Greek for “most beautiful”) takes the stage as one of the most dazzling horological creations.
It took five years to match all the emerald-cut diamonds and more than 6,000 hours of work to complete the masterpiece.
CALIBRE 1755 – THE WORLD’S THINNEST MINUTE-REPEATER
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 1922, calibre 1755 became the world’s thinnest minute-repeater, only 3.28mm thick.
A TRIBUTE TO MERCATOR
The Flemish mathematician and geographer, whose real name was Gerhard Kremer, drew the first flat projections of the globe for navigators. As travelling has always been a major and recurrent theme at Vacheron Constantin, the Maison decided to mark the 400th anniversary of the cartographer’s death by launching a collection in his name.
The beautiful enamel dials presented the different maps of the hemispheres, drawn by Mercator himself. 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.
Vacheron Constantin won the "Aiguille d'Or" - the very first Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève with the Lady Kalla high jewellery timepiece.
THE RELAUNCH OF 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.
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 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.
A new collection dedicated to women. The encounter of two worlds, Haute Horlogerie and Haute Couture, through the prism of craftsmanship, precision, excellence and beauty. The new horological muse of the Maison is called Égérie. This new collection weaves the face of watchmaking femininity according to Vacheron Constantin. A watch featuring a classic look “draped” with a mischievous touch reflecting today’s women: inspiring, independent and charismatic.