Vacheron Constantin is a Swiss manufacturer of prestige watches and part of the Richemont group.
Along with Patek Philippe & Co. and Audemars Piguet, it is one of the classic Trinity of 20th century Swiss watch brands.
In 1994, a Vacheron Constantin private museum opened on the Quai de L’Ile in Geneva. Its interior replicates a 1700s cabinotier’s workshop.
Vacheron and Constantin's origins can traced to 1755, when the 24-year-old Jean-Marc Vacheron joined the cabinotier (not necessarily a watchmaker but could equally be a jeweller, engraver, or stonecutter) of Geneva, Switzerland.
Cultured, well read, and respected among the intelligentsia, young Jean-Marc quickly established a reputation for producing timepieces of the highest grade. Vacheron's reputation extended to the Royal Courts of Europe, impressing even the Court Timekeeper and Royal Watchmakers.
In 1785 Vacheron's son, Abrahan Vacheron, became head of the family business around the time of the French Revolution. In 1810, Vacheron's grandson takes over the company. It begins exporting watches to France and Italy.
In 1770 saw the first complication created by Vacheron’s company and, in 1779, he introduced the first engine-turned dials.
A crucial event in 1819 was Francois Constantin’s joining of the company in a sales and "marketing" capacity. Previously with J.F. Bautte, Constantin coined the company’s slogan: “Faire Mieux si possible, ce qui est toujours possible - Do better when possible, and it is always possible!”
In 1877, the company name was formally and permanently changed by charter to "Vacheron & Constantin," regardless of ownership changes.
Ten years later, in 1887, Vacheron & Constantin was awarded a gold medal due to its improvements and success as a stock company, presented in Geneva at the Swiss National Exhibition.
In 1938, after years of close cooperation, LeCoultre took a partial ownership position, and a Jaeger LeCoultre marketing alliance was formed. Jaeger's Swiss sales organization was moved into the VC business address in Geneva. This lasted until 1965.
Mysterious early years
Most information about the company from Jean-Marc Vacheron's 1755 founding to 1810 are derived from referent secondary sources including documents and references from the public record.
For centuries, until the discovery of the Jean-Marc Vacheron contract of 1755, even the company itself held 1785 as its founding date.
The current official history dating to 1755 is based upon a copy of a public filing that was discovered among the records contained in the estate of a Geneva Notary.
Key watches produced by the company
- 1755 - Jean-Marc Vacheron produces his own pocketwatch from 1760 signed J.M. Vacheron
- 1770 - the first complication created by Vacheron
- 1779 - VC's first engine-turned dials
- 1825 - First Jumping Hour pocketwatch produced by Vacheron
- 1910/1911 - First VC wristwatch
- 1967 - thinnest ever full rotor auto movement of 2.45mm-21 kt rotor mounted on beryllium-bronze rails that rest on ruby rollers on the outer edge of movement, rather than on a center bearing.
A Vacheron Constantin Tour de l’Ile wristwatch with 16 horological complications was sold for $1,564,000 at an Antiquorum auction in 2005.
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