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History of Vacheron Constantin

by on November 10, 2011

Vacheron Constantin is considered by watch connoisseurs around the world as being the “best of the best” in time pieces along with other premier brands such as Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Audemars Piguet. It employs 400 people world-wide in Geneva and Vallee de Jouz. It has 15 boutiques and sells in 80 countries. Previous clients have been Napolean Bonaparte, Pope Pius XI, the Duke of Windsor and President Harry Truman.

The oldest watch manufacturer in the world, Vacheron and Constantin was founded in 1755 in Geneva, Switzerland by Jean-Marc Vacheron, a gifted craftsman who created the first complication and designed the first engine-turned dials.

In 1785, son Abraham Vacheron took over the business and survived the French Revolution. Later, grandson to the original owner, Jaques-Barthelemy Vacheron became the principal in the company and led the way by exporting his timepieces to France and Italy.

The business grew to a point where Vacheron could not handle it alone and he took on a partner-Francois Constantin, and changed the name to Vacheron & Constantin. They opened new markets which included North America.

In 1839, Georges-Auguste Leschot joined the firm offering his watch-making skills to include using Calibers as standardized watch movements.

In 1854, Constantin died and later came Vacheron’s death in 1863. Over time, a number of different principals took over the company.

In 1877, the official name became Vacheron & Constantin, Fabricants, Geneve. In 1880, Vacheron & Constantin started using the logo of the Maltese Cross as it continues to today.

In 1906, their first boutique opened. During the Great Depression, the company had difficult times and Charles Constantin became the head of the company in 1936.

During World War II, Georges Ketter took over to help with the decreased sales.

In 1970, the “&” was dropped from Vacheron & Constantin.

In 1979, the Kallista model was introduced to the market. Its original price was $5 million dollars although, today, it is valued at over $11 million dollars. The Kallistra model has 118 emerald-cut diamonds and it took 6000 to make the watch and “20 months for jewelers to enrich the watch”.

In 1987, Jacques Ketterer died and the new owner took over Vacheron Constantin.

In 2003, Vacheron Constantin created and produced the sports line, “Overseas” which included watches for women.

In 2004, Vacheron Constantin’s new world headquarters opened in Geneva.

Since then, the company changed hands again and created the most complicated watch called the “Tour de L’lle”. This watch has 834 parts and 16 horological complications.

 

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