Vacheron Constantin

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Vacheron Constantin SA
Member of the Richemont Group
IndustryWatch manufacturing
FounderJean-Marc Vacheron, François Constantin
HeadquartersPlan-les-Ouates, Canton of Geneva, Switzerland
ProductsLuxury watches

Vacheron Constantin (French pronunciation: ​[va.ʃə.rɔ̃ kɔ̃s.tɑ̃.tɛ̃]) is a luxury Swiss manufacture of prestige watches and a brand of the Richemont group. The company is one of the oldest manufactures in the world with an uninterrupted watchmaking history since founding.[1][2] It employs around 1,100 people worldwide, most of whom are based in the manufacturing plants in Canton of Geneva and Vallée de Joux.

Vacheron Constantin is a highly regarded Swiss watchmaker in the world.[3][4][5] The Vacheron Constantin pocket watch Ref. 57260 (1929), which was owned by King Fouad I of Eygpt, ranks as one of the most expensive watches ever sold at auction, reaching a final price of 2.77 million US dollars (3,306,250 CHF) in Geneva on April 03, 2005.[6][7] In 2015, Vacheron Constantain introduced a new Reference 57260, which currently holds the title of the most complicated mechanical watch/pocket watch ever made in the world, with 57 complications.[8][9]


Early history[edit]

François Constantin

Vacheron Constantin was founded in 1755 by Jean-Marc Vacheron, an independent watchmaker in Geneva, Switzerland.[1][10][11] In 1770, his company created the first horological complication, and nine years later he designed the first engine-turned dials. The son of Jean-Marc Vacheron, Abraham Vacheron, took over the family business in 1785.[11] During this period, the company was able to survive the French Revolution (1789–1799). In 1810, Jacques-Barthélemy Vacheron, the grandson of the founder, became the head of the company.[1] He was the first to initiate the company's exports to France and Italy.

Later, Jacques-Barthélemy realized that he was not able to handle his business alone. In order to travel overseas and sell the company's products, he needed a partner. Consequently, in 1819, François Constantin became an associate of Vacheron.[1] The company continued its activity under the name Vacheron & Constantin. The company's motto (which remains today), "Do better if possible and that is always possible," first appeared in Constantin's letter to Jacques-Barthélémy. The letter was dated 5 July 1819.[12]

François Constantin traveled around the world and marketed watches. The main market was North America.[1] In 1833, Vacheron and Constantin hired Georges-Auguste Leschot, whose job was to supervise the manufacturing operations. In particular, Leschot was an inventor and his creations turned out to be successful for the company. His inventions had significant impact on the watchmaking industry in general, and he was the first person to standardize watch movements into Calibers. In 1844, Georges-Auguste Leschot was awarded with a gold medal from the Arts Society of Geneva, who highly appreciated Leschot's pantographic device - a device that was able to mechanically engrave small watch parts and dials.[12]


Advertisement from 1896 promoting their observatory trial results

After Constantin's death in 1854 and Vacheron's death in 1863, the company was taken over by a series of heirs. At one point, the company was headed by two women. In 1862, Vacheron Constantin became a member of the Association for Research into non-magnetic materials.

In 1877, Vacheron & Constantin, Fabricants, Geneve became the official name of the company. In 1880, the company started using the Maltese cross as its symbol, which it still does as of 2018.[1] This was inspired by a component of the barrel, which had a cross-shape and was used for limiting the tension within the mainspring.

In 1887, Vacheron & Constantin was reorganized into a stock company. For the remarkable achievements of the company, it was awarded a gold medal at the Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva in 1887.[citation needed] The first Vacheron & Constantin boutique in Geneva was opened in 1906. This store can be seen today on Quai de l'Ile.

During the Great Depression Vacheron & Constantin found itself in a difficult situation.[12] In 1936, Charles Constantin became the head of the company, the first time since the 1850s that a representative of the Constantin family was president of Vacheron & Constantin. However, in 1940, Georges Ketterer acquired the majority portion of the stock of Vacheron & Constantin, from Charles Constantin.[13]

Recent development[edit]

In 1969, George Ketterer died, and his son, Jacques Ketterer, succeeded as the head of the company. In 1970, the company changed its official name to be Vacheron Constantin.[13]

When Jacques Ketterer died in 1987, Vacheron Constantin changed hands. Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, the former Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia and avid watch collector, became the majority shareholder, who then folded Vacheron Constantin into his personal portfolio of holdings.[14]

In 1996, the entire share capital of the company was bought by the Swiss Richemont Group.[15][16] In 2004, Vacheron Constantin opened its new headquarters and manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates, Geneva.[17] The Vacheron Constantin headquarters building in Geneva was designed by Bernard Tschumi, and has been noted for its architectural significance.[18][19][20][21] In October 2005, The Richemont Group named Juan Carlos Torres as the chief executive officer of the company.[22] The company is an active member of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH, and produces about 20,000 timepieces per year.[23][24]

Watch manufacturing[edit]

In 1885, the company created the first nonmagnetic timepiece which included a complete lever assortment made of materials able to withstand magnetic fields. Its construction included a balance wheel, balance spring and lever shaft that were made of palladium, the lever arms—in bronze and the escape wheel was in gold.

Notable models[edit]

Most expensive pieces[edit]

A Vacheron Constantin pocket watch
  • In 1979, Vacheron Constantin made Kallista, one of the most expensive wristwatches. Its initial price was $5 million, but today the watch is valued at about $11 million. Kallista had 118 emerald-cut diamonds. It took about 6,000 hours for the watch masters to make this watch and about 20 months for jewelers to enrich the watch.[25]
  • On April 03, 2005, the Vacheron Constantin pocket watch Ref. 57260 (1929), which was owned by King Fouad I of Eygpt, reached a final price of 2.77 million US dollars (3,306,250 CHF) in Antiquorum's Geneva auction.[6][7]
  • On April 03, 2005, a Vacheron Constantin wristwatch Tour de I'lle reached a final price of 1.56 million US dollars (1,876,250 CHF) in Antiquorum's Geneva auction.[26][27]
  • On June 15, 2011, a Vacheron Constantin minute repeater pocket watch, which was owned by James Ward Packard, reached a final price of 1.76 million US dollars in Christie's New York auction. [28]

Anniversary editions[edit]

  • In 2005 Vacheron Constantin created the wristwatch "Tour de I'lle", to mark the anniversary of 250 years of Vacheron Constantin. The watch includes 834 parts and 16 horological complications. It was only available through the Vacheron Constantin shop in Geneva, and sold for more than $1 million.[29][citation needed]
  • In 2015, during the manufacturer's 260th anniversary, Vacheron Constantin revealed the world's most complicated mechanical watch, named Reference 57260. It took three watchmakers eight years to build the 57-complication watch at the request of a client. Vacheron Constantin would not disclose the exact price of this watch but did confirm that it was between 8 million and 20 million US dollars.[30]

Other notable models[edit]

Fabergé's 1887 Third Imperial Egg contained a Vacheron Constantin Lady's watch as the surprise.

In 2003 Vacheron Constantin introduced a new sports line called Overseas, and a collection called Egérie, the first to include watches for women.

In 2007 Vacheron Constantin introduced the Métiers d'Art 'Les Masques' collection of timepieces featuring miniature reproductions of primitive art masks. The company selected twelve masks from a private museum collection and reproduced the masks on a small scale. The miniaturized masks are featured in the dial centre of every watch from the 'Les Masques' collection.[31]

in 2012, Vacheron Constantin introduced the Métiers d'Art 'Les Univers Infinis' collection of timepieces featuring tessellation, a design of interlocking identical shapes, inspired by the work of Dutch artist Maurits Cornelis Escher.

Notable owners[edit]

A Vacheron Constantin Patrimony wristwatch

Past notable owners of Vacheron Constantin watches include[10][32]:


Royal families[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Birth of the Vacheron Constantin Manufacture of Haute Horlogerie - Vacheron Constantin". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  2. ^ "260 Years of Excellence (Paid Post by vacheron from". The New York Times. 2018-10-01. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  3. ^ "5 reasons collectors love Vacheron Constantin | Christie's". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  4. ^ PORTER, MR. "Introducing Vacheron Constantin". Introducing Vacheron Constantin | About Time | The Journal | Issue 387 | 05 September 2018 | MR PORTER. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  5. ^ Gomelsky, Victoria (2016-11-16). "Brand Awareness is the Goal at Vacheron Constantin". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  6. ^ a b "The 24 Most Expensive Watches Ever Sold At Auction". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  7. ^ a b "Buy Watch online | Watch Auction Catalog | Patek Philippe, Rolex, Breguet, Cartier". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  8. ^ "Vacheron Constantin reference 57260 - the most complicated watch". Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  9. ^ "Hands-On: The Vacheron Constantin 57260, The Most Complicated Watch In The World (Exclusive Live Photos, Thoughts) - HODINKEE". HODINKEE. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  10. ^ a b Nancy Wolfson. "Cigar Aficionado March/April 1998, With 243 Years of Experience, Swiss Watchmaker Vacheron Constantin Continues to Push the Horology Envelope".
  11. ^ a b Jean-Marc Vacheron: 1731 – 1805, Suisse, Le Point
  12. ^ a b c "History - Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  13. ^ a b "EWC: History of Vacheron Constantin". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  14. ^ "YAMANI IS HANDED A DEFEAT IN BID FOR SWISS WATCH FIRM". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  15. ^ "Compagnie Financière Richemont SA - Juan-Carlos Torres to succeed Claude-Daniel Proellochs as Chief Executive of Vacheron Constantin". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  16. ^ "How Richemont Plans to Survive in a Changing 21st Century Marketplace". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  17. ^
  18. ^ 1001 Buildings You Must See Before You Die, Quintessence Books, 2007, p 843
  19. ^ "Vacheron Constantin / Bernard Tschumi Architects". 14 September 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  20. ^ Mun-Delsalle, Y-Jean. "Bernard Tschumi's Architecture Is Not Just About Space And Form But Also The Events Happening Inside". Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Juan-Carlos Torres". Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  23. ^ "Watch brands". Federation of the swiss watch industry.
  24. ^ "Vacheron Constantin". Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  25. ^ "10 of the Finest Vacheron Watches of All-Time". 20 June 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  26. ^ "Tour de I'lle Antiquorum Vacheron Constantin". Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  27. ^ Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces - April 2012.
  28. ^ "VACHERON CONSTANTIN (MOVEMENT NO, 375551, CASE NO. 231922, MADE FOR JAMES WARD PACKARD IN 1918)". Retrieved 2018-12-02.
  29. ^ "Juan-Carlos Torres – Prestige Magazine". Prestige Magazine. 2016-11-15. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  30. ^ "The World's Most Complicated Watch with 57 Complications". – via
  31. ^ "Vacheron Constantin Metiers d'Art 'Les Masques'".
  32. ^ The archives of the Mannerheim Museum, Helsinki, Finland. October 2018.
  33. ^ "Vacheron Constantin reference 57260 - the most complicated watch". Retrieved 2018-11-30.

External links[edit]