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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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 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 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 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 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.
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