In search of perfection

30/11/2017 14:09

As the world’s oldest watchmaker, Vacheron Constantin has been synonymous with craftsmanship, innovation and aesthetic excellence for more than 260 years.

In the mid-18th century, half the population of Geneva specialized in watch crafting, and one day in 1755, a 24-year-old watchmaker Jean-Marc Vacheron set up his own watch workshop. Silver-clad pocketwatches by the young Vacheron promptly won the hearts of wealthy clients. In the 1790s, Vacheron created the first complex crafted timepiece, which laid the foundation for new heights in his brand’s journey to master the secrets of timepiece perfection.

 A nephew of the founder, Jacques Barthelemi Vacheron, took the helm in 1801 and was the first to export Vacheron watches to France and Italy. He forged a partnership with Francois Constantin, a Geneva-based watch dealer as the starting point for the merger of Vacheron Constantin. In a letter by Constantin to Vacheron in 1819, Constantin stressed an idea that became the motto of the company, which remains until this day: “Do better if possible, and that is always possible.”
As both skilled craftsmen and shrewd businessmen, Constantin and Vacheron had reaped enviable commercial success. One of the wisest decisions of Vacheron and Constantin was to recruit Georges-Auguste Leschot, son of a local watchmaker, in 1839. Leschot was an inventor who crafted a number of unique tools and triggered a revolution not only in Vacheron Constantin, but also the entire watchmaking industry.

The first workshop of Vacheron Constantin was located in Quai de l’Ile, now downtown Geneva. In 1906, the company launched its first boutique on the ground floor of the building, which is still in operation over 100 years later. In 2004, Vacheron Constantin launched its second watch workshop in Plans les Ouates. Now the watchmaker boasts over 400 watchamking masters. Its exceptional craftsmanship combined with advanced technologies enable Vacheron Constantin to craft nearly 30,000 timepieces a year. Over the course of 260 years of operation, nearly 1 million timepieces have been sold.
Over its golden past, clients of Vacheron Constantin have included various royals, rulers and VIP celebrities of the modern world. Vacheron Constantin watches were first recorded in Vietnam in 1888 in orders of private collectors in Hanoi, Saigon and Quang Binh who are still featured in the company’s historical accounts.

Timeless time records
Each timepiece of Vacheron Constantin is a true work of art, and each generation carved new accomplishments in history. In 1889, Vacheron Constantin attended the Universal Exhibition in Paris, and won a prize for its first women’s wristwatch, a bracelet-style watch lined with diamond studs.
In 1934, a pocketwatch exclusively crafted in honor of King Farouk of Egypt comprised 14 complicated features and was manufactured out of 820 details for over four years.

A passion for endless creation is the most rewarding legacy bequeathed to Vacheron Constantin until this day. The brand’s watches are not only precise and durable with various complex functions but also aesthetic artworks of refined craftsmanship crafted out of precious materials, including gold, gemstones and diamonds and certified with the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva.

The ageless excellence of such a revered brand is well into its third century. In 2005, in the 250th anniversary of Vacheron Constantin, Tour de I’Ile watch was on display, including 16 complicated functions and astronomical parameters. Only seven editions were crafted, of which the first was put on auction for up to US$1.6 million.

 In 2015, on its 260th anniversary, Vacheron Constantin introduced the world’s most complicated timepiece, labeled 57260. Ordered by a secret client, it took three masterful watchmakers eight years to combine classical know-how with 21st century techniques to culminate in a timepiece that incorporated 57 complicated functions, including brand-new and unique ones. The exact figure was not unveiled, but Vacheron Constantin acknowledged that this watch was worth from US$8 million to US$20 million.
 Inspirations for creativity are endless, and Vacheron Constantin remains committed to designing, developing and manufacturing rare and record-breaking timepieces.

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