Over two and a half centuries ago, in 1755, Jean-Marc Vacheron established the world’s oldest watch manufacturing company in the city of Geneva.
After 15 years of watchmaking, the company produced its first “complication” watches.
In 1810, the grandson of Jean-Marc Vacheron, Jaques-Barthélemy, took over the family business and started exporting to France and Italy.
In 1819, François Constantin joined the company, renamed it “Vacheron et Constantin” and gave it the official motto: “Do better if possible, and that is always possible”.
1839 was a year of technical revolution: Georges-Auguste Leschot was taken on as a production engineer and adapted the pantograph to the requirements of the industry. Thanks to this instrument, certain watch components could be copied repeatedly by a machine, no longer needing to be hand-made, as before. This invention propelled the company to the forefront of the industrial age.
The year 1880 marked the emergence of the “Maltese cross” as the Vacheron Constantine logo, based on the movement part fixed to the barrel, that reduces the winding required.
At the Swiss National Exhibition, held in Geneva in 1896, Vacheron Constantin was awarded a prestigious gold medal in recognition of a range of outstanding achievements. Prior to this, in 1872, the company had won several awards at a precision contest for timepieces in the Astronomical Observatory of Geneva.
In 1906, the very first Vacheron Constantin boutique was opened in “Quai de l’Ile”, Geneva, which still remains to this day.
The year 1935 saw the creation of one of the most complex pocket-watches ever sold, commissioned by King Farouk of Egypt and taking five years to be made. Twenty years later, in 1955, two hundred years after its foundation, Vacheron Constantin designed and built one of the thinnest watches ever produced with a calibre only 1.64 mm deep. In the same year, there was the Big Four Summit Conference in Geneva that brought together the Heads of State: N.A. Bulganine, Sir Anthony Eden, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Edgar Faure. For the event Vacheron Constantin was requested to create four wrist-watches as gifts for the Conference participants.
In 1979, the Vacheron Constantin Kallista was made, a watch which had 118 emerald-cut 130-carat diamonds and which took five years to create. This timepiece remains the most expensive watch ever made by the company.
In 1994, Vaucheron Constantin commemorated the 400th anniversary of the death of Mercator, a highly-regarded mathematician and geographer who invented the first navigational maps. It was marked with the very limited production of a pair of watch designs. These watches had a hand-enamelled dial featuring Mercator’s own maps of the hemispheres as well as a pair of compass-like watch hands invented and custom built for these timepieces.
In 1996, the Richemont group took over the company and released the “Overseas sports line”. Vacheron Constantin’s first collection for women, known as “Egérie” was launched in 2003.
In 2005, Vacheron Constantin celebrated its 250th anniversary by releasing the Vacheron Constantin “Tour de l’Ile”. This was the most complicated double-faced wristwatch in the world, with a unique combination of 16 complications and astronomical dials and an exceptional calibre of 834 components. This production bears the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, with only seven of these timepieces having ever been produced. In this same year, the company also launched the “Saint Gervais”, a watch that brings together a permanent calendar, a tourbillion and more than ten days of power reserve.
In 2006, the very first Vacheron Constantin boutique celebrated its 100th anniversary. Established in 1906, it is still located in “en l’Ile”, at the heart of Geneva, which is the brand’s historic birthplace. It was in this same building that the company once housed its old production workshop.
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