Founded in 1775 by Jean-Marc Vacheron, Vacheron Constantin is the oldest watch brand in the world with continuous, uninterrupted operations. Notable watch owners include Napoléon Bonaparte, Queen Elizabeth II, Harry S. Truman, Diana Princess of Wales and the Wright brothers. The company is no stranger to challenging timepieces, introducing a pocket watch in 2015, Reference 57260, with 57 complications. It's considered the most complicated timepiece ever produced. The company has also introduced many firsts in the industry, such as the first watch complication in 1770 and first engine-turned dial in 1779. It's currently headquartered in Plan-les-Ouates, next to Geneva and has been a subsidiary of the Richemont Group since 1996. It produces around 20,000 timepieces per year.
Despite being one of the true horological pioneers, Vacheron Constantin strives for artistic perfection as well. The Métiers d’Art collection is a testament to that, inspired by art, history and culture with dials created by in-house master artisans. Pieces like the Copernicus celestial spheres 2460 RT mix art and mechanics to present a unique way of displaying time. Designed to honor mathematician Nicolas Copernicus, three different designs feature a fully engraved, painted and engraved, or complex enamel dial. This combination of in-house art and horology is rare and helps set the brand apart.
As the inventor of the first complication in the mid-18th century, contemporary pieces continue to push the boundaries of mechanical engineering. The aforementioned Reference 57260 pocket watch has 57 complications with a staggering 242 jewels, 31 individual hands, 2,826 parts and ten complications that are new to timepieces (with ten patents to match). Eight years in the making, the white gold timepiece was built by hand by three master watchmakers. Complications include a tourbillon, perpetual calendar, Hebrew calendar, astronomical calendar, religious calendar, moon phase, double retrograde split-seconds chronograph, alarm, Westminster carillon chiming and power reserve indicator. A world record and marvel of horology, the piece exemplifies the innovation, history and prowess of the brand.
More conventional timepieces, of course, comprise a large portion of the company’s inventory. Ten collections make up their portfolio and include time-only pieces and grand complications. The Traditionnelle Grandes Complications features a tourbillon, minute repeater, perpetual calendar and power reserve indicator, encased in platinum with dual sapphire crystals. On the other end of the spectrum is the Patrimony manual-wind or the recently introduced SIXTYFIVE collection. But even this most simple Vacheron Constantin watch is still a highly refined, luxury timepiece. The term “entry level” doesn’t really apply.
The company’s motto is “Faire mieux is possible, ce qui est toujours possible” (Do better if possible and that is always possible). This was written by François Constantin on July 5, 1819 in a letter to his new partner, Jacques-Barthélémy. This never-ending drive to excel in innovation, design and artistry has resulted in some of the finest timepieces in history.