The Vacheron Constantin brand belongs to the Swiss watchmakers. This is traditionally considered one of the most expensive, traditional and prestigious watch brands. But after all, at one time, Switzerland was not such a peaceful place as it is today. In the XVIII century the country was shaken by the conflicts. The oligarchs of the Swiss provinces and cities could not settle their contradictions, the greater part of the country’s men served as mercenaries in different armies of Europe.
It was not accidental, because the Swiss managed to become famous for their militancy. Only in the second half of the 18th century the situation began to change with the development of industry in the country. In Switzerland, cotton and silk production begins to develop, as well as the creation of watches. The last craft immediately became special for the country, more than usual production. After all, in Geneva in 1601 a special guild appeared. In it in the XVIII century there were more than 800 watchmakers.
In such conditions of fierce competition, Jean-Marc Vairón worked. He was forced to constantly improve the characteristics of his products. So in 1770 the master produced the first clock with complications of the standard clockwork mechanism, the so-called complication. Thus, Warehouse demonstrated his creative abilities. And in 1779 his workshop began to produce watches with a special engraving, which gave them a special gloss and because of the brilliance of reflected light.
In the spring of 1798 the French invaded Switzerland – the Napoleonic wars began. A new, Helvetic Republic was formed. By the time the clock from Vashrona was well known and popular among the aristocrats of Europe. The founder of the company, Jean-Marc, gave the case to his son, Abraham Vaderon. His clients were the whole newly appeared French imperial court. It is not only Napoleon Bonaparte himself, but also his two spouses – first Josephine, and then Maria-Louise. The French cut off supplies to Europe of the products of the English manufactories, this allowed the Swiss watchmakers, in conditions of weak competition, to sharply increase sales and expand sales markets. In 1812, Napoleon’s plans fail in Russia, and the emperor himself eventually lost power and was sent to St. Helena. On the maps of Europe, again appeared such a state as Switzerland. It also increased its territory due to the accession in 1815 to the confederation of even new cantons. At the Congress of Vienna was proclaimed the eternal neutrality of Switzerland.
Finally, peace comes to Europe. The grandson of the company’s founder, Jacques-Barthelemy Vaderon, since 1810 headed the company, continued the business of expanding the sales market. Soon it became clear that he could not control the expanded business alone. In 1819, François Constantine became a partner of Vashron, and the company itself was named Vacheron et Constantin. The new partner focuses on sales, traveling around Europe. Collections of watches were also presented in Russia. The archives of the company even preserved a record that in 1819 watches with a minute repeater Prince Potemkin were sold. The company itself was soon able to become a Supplier of the Court of His Imperial Majesty in Russia. And in 1830, thanks to the energetic Constantine, the clock appeared in the United States. François himself was an extreme perfectionist. His life principles he stated as follows: “Strive to do better, if possible, and this is always possible!”. The motto soon became the company itself. Constantine himself followed this rule all his life. It is said that his love for the firm’s products was such that he even fought a duel, defending the honor of the brand.
Vacheron Constantin presented the market with the highest quality products. The watch was a real piece of jewelry. They were decorated with precious stones. The company offered wrist watches and pocket watches with repeater, tourbillon. Vacheron Constantin constantly improved, doing new developments. In 1839, the engineer Georges-Auguste Leschot was accepted to work for the company.He made a real technological revolution, using a pantograph. This tool made serial production of some watch parts. He also introduced gauges for the first time, as an element of standardization. The innovations that Lesch offered, allowed production to move from handicraft to industrial. As a result, the Vacheron Constantin factory moved to the full cycle, introducing end-to-end quality control. And in 1877 the company became a joint stock company Vacheron & Constantin, Fabricants, Geneve.
In 1880, the trademark of the brand with the sign of the “Maltese Cross” was registered. The sign represents one of the traditional details of the mechanism of the winding spring, but on the other hand it is excellent evidence of how the company is closely related to European history.
At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, the company showed several achievements to the world, which only emphasized the high class of products and innovative leadership. For example, Vacheron Constantin was one of the first developers to use such elements, such as bronze, palladium and gold, which are not susceptible to magnetic fields in their watch movements. Thus, external influences that interfere with the accuracy of the stroke were “eliminated”. Not without reason, at the first competition of the Geneva Observatory in 1872 it was the Vacheron Constantin watches that received the main prize For Precision.
And in 1896, for outstanding achievements, the company received a Gold Medal at the Swiss National Exhibition. In recognition of the company, the company was given the right to label its products with the Swiss brand. This sign confirmed that the products meet the most stringent quality requirements, and the watch itself is assembled and tested on the Swiss canon Geneva. It was there, in 1906, and the first boutique of the company was opened, on the street Ke-de-l’Ile it exists to this day.
And in 1911 appeared the first samples of women’s watches. Within a couple of years, similar male models began to be produced serially. They became especially popular among artillerymen and medics during the First World War. And specially for the sappers of the expeditionary body of the United States, a special series of pocket chronographs was even produced.
In the 1930s, the world experienced an economic crisis, and the Vacheron Constantin House continued to produce luxury-class watches. Especially for King Farouk of Egypt, a real masterpiece was made. These pocket watches with the number 415810 possessed an eternal calendar, a moon phase indicator, a minute repeater, a small and large fight, an alarm clock, a split-chronograph, a power reserve indicator and a main mechanism. This copy became the most complex of all, ever produced by a company. The production of such a masterpiece of mechanics alone stretched for five years – from 1930 to 1935. In 1994, these watches were sold at an antique auction for a huge sum of 1.155 million Swiss francs.
During the Second World War, people were not up to the clock – the main markets were lost, and production almost stopped. But in 1944, the company introduced the world’s thinnest in the world, with a body thickness of 1.64 millimeters. Later on this basis, watches were created, which became one of the thinnest in the world.
The brand Vacheron Constantin itself deserved the reputation of being “royal”. After all, the clock was owned by the Russian emperor Alexander II, the Austrian Kaiser Franz-Wilhelm, Queen Victoria and Prince Edward. And in 1955 it was this watch that presented the government of Switzerland to King Elizabeth II in honor of her coronation. And in 1981 Lady Kalla became the owner of Princess Diana, who received an elite watch in honor of her wedding present.
In July 1955, the Peace Conference was held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Four models of watches Vacheron Constantin were presented to the arriving politicians – Dwight Eisenhower, Nikolay Bulganin, Sir Anthony Eden and Edgar Faur. On each copy there was an inscription: “Let this watch show a happy time to you, your people and the World in the whole world.”
And in 1972, the House introduced a new women’s wristwatch with a bold, as for those times, design. In the Cambree collection, models with a trapezoidal gold body and a contrasting color scheme were introduced. These watches were decorated with diamonds. The work of the watchmakers was marked by the award “Diploma of the Prestige of France”. For the first time in the history of the award, the diploma was given to the watch manufacturer. The direction of haute joaillerie was supported by Kalista watches, which became the most expensive in the world. After all, 140 grams of gold were used to make the case, the watch itself was decorated with 118 diamonds. The price of this masterpiece was $ 5 million. For the manufacture of Kalista master watchmakers spent more than 6 thousand hours. Jewelry same finish stretched for 20 months. At present, such a product would cost about 11 million dollars.
In 1996, Vacheron Constantin shares were purchased by Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG. The concern also includes such famous brands as Cartier, Alfred Dunhill, Montblanc, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget. In addition to luxury, the company is also a co-owner of British American Tobacco, the largest cigarette manufacturer.
By 1997, the House had five main collections. Overseas presents sport with a touch of luxury, Les Historiques are the classic models of the company in the updated version, Les Joailleries / Absolues – a jewelry series, Les Essentielles – classic design models, and Les Complications – a high-complexity watch. At the beginning of the 21st century, a new collection of elegant women’s watches with EGERIE jewels appeared, and Lady Kalla from the 18-carat white gold plate with 120 diamonds received the next Grand Prix.
In 2005, the world’s oldest watch company Vacheron Constantin celebrated its 250th anniversary. On this occasion, five unique series were released. Today the clock of this brand is impossible to just come and buy in the store. Products are created under the order taking into account the individual wishes of the client, which determines the final cost of the product. Vacheron Constantin simply does not release inexpensive products – the most budgetary model Grande Classique costs from 9500 dollars. But the brand has many fans among the richest people in the world. After all, having such a watch is very prestigious and it speaks about the level of their owner.