The Vacheron Constantin brand belongs to Swiss watchmakers. The oligarchs of the Swiss provinces and cities could not settle their differences, while most of the country's men served as mercenaries in various armies of Europe.
This was no coincidence, because the Swiss had become famous for their belligerence. There were over 800 watchmakers in it in the 18th century.
Jean-Marc Vacheron also worked in such conditions of tough competition. He was forced to constantly improve the characteristics of his products. So in 1770, the master released the first watch with complications of a standard movement, the so-called complication. Thus, Vacheron demonstrated his creative potential. And in 1779, his workshop began to produce watches with a special engraving, which gave them a special gloss because of the brilliance of the reflected light.
In the spring of 1798, the French invaded Switzerland - the Napoleonic Wars began. A new, Helvetic Republic was formed. By that time, Vacheron watches were well known and popular among the aristocrats of Europe. The founder of the company, Jean-Marc, turned over the business to his son, Abraham Vacheron. The entire newly-minted French imperial court became his clients. This is not only Napoleon Bonaparte himself, but also both of his spouses - first Josephine, and then Maria-Louise. The French cut off the supply of British manufactures' products to Europe, which allowed Swiss watchmakers to dramatically increase sales and expand sales markets in conditions of weak competition. In 1812, Napoleon's plans collapsed in Russia, and the emperor himself eventually lost power and was sent to St. Helena. A state like Switzerland appeared on the maps of Europe again. It also increased its territory due to the entry of new cantons into the confederation in 1815. At the Congress of Vienna, Switzerland's eternal neutrality was proclaimed.
Finally, peace comes to Europe. The grandson of the founder of the company, Jacques-Barthélemy Vacheron, who took over the company in 1810, continued to expand the sales market. It soon became clear that he alone could not control the growing business. In 1819, François Constantin became Vacheron's partner, and the company itself received the name Vacheron et Constantin. The new partner focuses on sales and travels throughout Europe. The watch collections were also presented in Russia. The company's archives even keep a record that in 1819 a watch with a minute repeater was sold to Prince Potemkin. 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, watches appeared in the United States. François himself was an extreme perfectionist. He outlined his life principles as follows: "Strive to do better, if possible, and this is always possible!" This motto was soon adopted by the company itself. Constantine himself followed this rule all his life. It is said that his love for the company's products was such that he even fought a duel, defending the honor of the brand.
Vacheron Constantin presented the highest quality products to the market. Watches were real pieces of jewelry. They were decorated with precious stones. The company offered wrist and pocket watches with repeaters and tourbillons. Vacheron Constantin has been constantly improving with new developments. In 1839, a development engineer Georges-Auguste Leschaux was hired by the company. He made a real technological breakthrough by using the pantograph. This tool made some watch parts serial production. He also introduced calibers for the first time as an element of standardization. The innovations that Lesho proposed allowed production to move from craft to industrial. As a result, the Vacheron Constantin factory moved to a 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 brand's trademark was registered with the Maltese Cross sign. The badge depicts one of the traditional parts of the mainspring mechanism, but on the other hand it is an excellent testament to how the company is closely connected with European history.
In the late XIX - early XX centuries, the company showed the world several achievements that only emphasized the high class of products and innovative leadership. For example, Vacheron Constantin was one of the first designers to incorporate elements that are immune to magnetic fields such as bronze, palladium and gold in their movements. Thus, external influences that interfere with the accuracy of the course were reduced to naught. It is not for nothing that at the very first competition of the Geneva Observatory in 1872 it was the Vacheron Constantin watch that received the main prize “For accuracy”.
And in 1896, the company received the Gold Medal at the Swiss National Exhibition for outstanding achievements. As a sign of recognition, the company received the right to mark its products with the Swiss brand. This mark confirmed that the products meet the most stringent quality requirements, and the watches themselves are assembled and tested on the territory of the Swiss canon Geneva. It was there, in 1906, that the first boutique of the company was opened; it still exists on the street Que de l'Ile.
And in 1911 the first samples of women's wristwatches appeared. Within a couple of years, similar male models began to be mass-produced. They became especially popular with gunners and medics during the First World War. And especially for the sappers of the US Expeditionary Force, a special series of pocket chronographs was even released.
In the 1930s, the world experienced an economic crisis, and the House of Vacheron Constantin continued to produce luxury watches. A real masterpiece was made especially for King Farouk of Egypt. This pocket watch, numbered 415810, had a perpetual calendar, a moon phase indicator, a minute repeater, small and large strikes, an alarm clock, a split chronograph, and a power reserve indicator for the striking mechanism and main mechanism. This piece has become the most complex of all the firm has ever produced. The production of such a masterpiece of mechanics alone lasted five years - from 1930 to 1935. In 1994, this watch was sold at an antique auction for a whopping 1.155 million Swiss francs.
During the Second World War, people had no time for hours - the main markets were lost, and production almost stopped. But in 1944, the company introduced the world's thinnest watch caliber with a case thickness of 1.64 millimeters. Later, on this basis, a watch was created, which became one of the thinnest in the world.
The Vacheron Constantin brand itself has earned a reputation as "royal". After all, the watch of the manufacturer was owned by the Russian Emperor Alexander II, Austrian Kaiser Franz Wilhelm, Queen Victoria and Prince Edward. And in 195 it was this watch that was presented to the government of Switzerland to King Elizabeth II in honor of her coronation. And in 1981, Princess Diana became the owner of the Lady Kalla model, receiving an elite watch in honor of her wedding gift.
In July 1955, a peace conference was held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Four models of Vacheron Constantin wristwatches were presented to the arriving politicians - Dwight Eisenhower, Nikolai Bulganin, Sir Anthony Eden and Edgar Foru. Each copy bore the inscription: "Let this watch show a happy time to you, your people and the world around the world."
And in 1972, the House presented a new women's wristwatch with a bold design, as in those times. The Cambree collection featured models with a trapezoidal gold case and contrasting colors. This watch has been set with diamonds. The watchmakers' work was awarded with the French Prestige Diploma. For the first time in the history of the award, a watch manufacturer received a diploma. The haute joaillerie trend was supported by Kalista watches, which became the most expensive in the world. After all, it took 140 grams of gold to make the case alone, and the watch itself was adorned with 118 diamonds. The price of such a masterpiece was $ 5 million. The watchmakers spent more than 6 thousand hours on the production of Kalista. The jewelery finishing took 20 months. At present, such a product would cost about $ 11 million.
In 1996, Vacheron Constantin's shares were acquired 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 represents sport with a touch of luxury, Les Historiques are the classic models of the firm in an updated version, Les Joailleries / Absolues are the jewelry series, Les Essentielles are classic design models, and Les Complications are watches of high complexity. At the beginning of the 21st century, a new collection of elegant ladies' watches with Egerie precious stones appeared, and Lady Kalla, made of an 18-carat white gold plate with 120 diamonds, received another 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 it is impossible to simply come and buy a watch from this brand in a store. Products are created to order, taking into account the individual wishes of the client, which determines the final cost of the product. Vacheron Constantin simply does not produce inexpensive products - the most budgetary model Grande Classique starts at $ 9,500. But the brand has many fans among the richest people in the world. After all, to have such a watch is very prestigious and it speaks about the level of their owner.