Regarded as one of the members of the ‘Holy Trinity’ of Swiss watchmakers (along with Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet), Vacheron Constantin is the world's oldest continuously operating watchmaker, with a history that dates back to 1755. With a legacy that spans over 260 years, many modern Vacheron Constantin watches draw inspiration from the brand’s vast archives of vintage watch designs, but are always built to exacting standards to meet modern expectations. Vacheron Constantin is renowned for making some of the finest timepieces and exquisitely decorated mechanical movements, often marked with the coveted Poinçon de Genève.
With an uncompromising dedication to the artistry of watchmaking, the master craftsmen of the maison have passed their passion and expertise down through countless generations. Today, their creations represent the end result of more than two-and-a-half centuries of relentless improvements, enhancements and perfectionism, while all retaining an emblematic visual identity.
The manufacturer’s devotion to only the very highest standards in design and engineering has won them patrons ranging from captains of industry to heads of state and royal monarchs.
In 1755, Jean-Marc Vacheron signs on his first watchmaker apprentice, which is now recognized as the official start of the company. The reins of the family watchmaking business were then handed to Jean-Marc’s son, Abraham Vacheron in 1785, followed by his son, Jacques-Barthélémy Vacheron in 1810. It was during Jacques-Barthélémy Vacheron’s era that businessman François Constantin joined the business and the company was renamed Vacheron et Constantin in 1819. Together, Vacheron et Constantin expanded the company’s business ventures to reach the United States of America, Brazil, and Cuba.
In 1842, the company moved into the Tour de l'Ile clock tower in Geneva but by 1875, it had to build a bigger facility down the street. This location is now home to Vacheron Constantin’s Heritage Department. In 1880, Vacheron Constantin registered the Maltese Cross symbol and in 1884 the brand logo with the cross was officially trademarked.
Towards the end of the 19th Century, the company won the Swiss National Exhibition and the first prize in the precision competition from the Geneva Observatory. In 1901, the first Vacheron Constantin movement was awarded the Hallmark of Geneva (Poinçon de Genève), which is a mark of excellence and assures that the caliber is made in Geneva.
In 1996, the Vendôme Luxury Group (now known as Richemont) acquired Vacheron Constantin and today, Vacheron Constantin continues to be one of Richemont’s most important watch manufactures.
As one of the finest Swiss watch brands in the market, Vacheron Constantin watches are also some of the most expensive. Vacheron Constantin typically makes watches priced at $25,000 and above, and its “entry-level” watches start at around $11,000 MSRP. Precious metals such as gold and platinum are favored by Vacheron Constantin; however, the watchmaker does offer select models from the sportier and more youthful ranges in stainless steel.
Buying pre-owned Vacheron Constantin watches offers significant savings for current production models with even higher discounts for discontinued models. However, certain rare vintage or sought-after limited edition Vacheron Constantin watches are highly valuable in the secondary market and can easily cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
|Model||Reference||Size & Materials||Retail Price (MSRP)|
|Patrimony Perpetual Calendar Ultra Thin||43175||
|Traditionnelle Day Date||85290||
|FiftySix Complete Calendar||4000E/000R||
|Historiques American 1921||82035/000R||40mm x 45.98mm; Gold||$33,200|
|Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955||5000H/000P||38.5mm; Platinum||$68,000|
|Malte Manual Winding||82230||36.7mm x 47.61mm; Gold||$24,200|
|Quai De L’Ile Self-Winding||4500S/000A||41mm x 50.3mm; Steel||$14,800|
Vacheron Constantin’s catalog includes elegant dress watches, robust sports watches, high-complication timepieces, vintage-inspired classics, and unconventionally shaped watches.
The Patrimony is Vacheron Constantin’s collection of signature dress watches, characterized by refined round cases and elegantly clean dials. While the Patrimony collection made its debut in 2004, these timepieces are direct descendants of two vintage Vacheron Constantin models from 1957: references 6187 and 6179. These mid-century Vacheron Constantin watches featured long thin hands, a mix of slender stick and tapered hour markers, and slim round cases - design traits that still inform the modern Patrimony today.
Vacheron Constantin Patrimony watches are exclusively fashioned from precious metal, whether pink gold, white gold, yellow gold, or platinum. There are manual-winding and automatic models, and functions can range from simple time-only dials to intriguing retrograde displays to complicated perpetual calendars.
Thanks to its precious metal construction and flawless finishing, even the simplest Patrimony models will set you back about $20,000 at retail and prices easily double and triple for more complex editions.
In recent years, Vacheron Constantin branched off the Traditionnelle models from the Patrimony range to stand as its own collection of watches. As its name implies, Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle timepieces honor traditional watchmaking design codes as illustrated by the use of classical details like stepped round cases, railway minute-tracks, dauphine-style hands, and “Geneva baton” hour markers.
Similar to the Patrimony collection, Traditionnelle models are exclusively offered in gold or platinum and can range from understated time-only pieces to grand complications packed with indications. The entry price point to the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle collection is just over $19,000.
In 1977, Vacheron Constantin joined the likes of Patek Philippe and Audemars Piguet and introduced its own version of an ultra-luxurious sports watch in stainless steel, complete with an unconventional-shaped bezel and integrated bracelet. The watch was called the “222” to mark Vacheron Constantin’s 222nd anniversary.
In 1996, Vacheron Constantin revived the essence of the 222 watch by introducing the Overseas collection of sports watches, intended for the affluent traveler. The Overseas has undergone some stylistic changes over the last two decades, with the most recent occurring in 2016 when Vacheron Constantin released an entirely revamped Overseas range. The contemporary Overseas watches feature new bracelet and bezel designs, both of which use the Maltese Cross as inspiration. Available in steel, gold, or two-tone configurations, the latest Overseas watches also benefit from an easy-to-use strap changing system that makes swapping out bracelets and straps a breeze. True to Vacheron Constantin form, the Overseas collection has plenty of complication choices including time/date, chronograph, perpetual calendar, dual time, world time, and even a tourbillon.
While this particular Vacheron Constantin collection offers steel models, the base Overseas Self-Winding in steel still comes with a hefty price tag of $18,900 and more complex editions in gold can cost more than four times that.
In 2018, Vacheron Constantin released a brand new collection of watches called FiftySix, which takes its design blueprint from the vintage Vacheron Constantin ref. 6073 from 1956. Positioned as Vacheron’s entry-level watch collection geared towards a younger audience, the FiftySix watches have 40mm round cases (available in steel or pink gold), retro-inspired sector dials, and automatic movements.
The price point for the FiftySix Self-Winding in steel starts at $10,900 and climbs to over $30,000 for the pink gold FiftySix Complete Calendar.
Aptly named, the Vacheron Constantin Historiques collection features re-issues of the brand’s historically significant models. A particularly notable and popular model is the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955, named after the French words for “cow horns” in reference to the uniquely-shaped lugs. Another intriguing model is the Historiques American 1921, which is an iteration of a vintage driving watch made for the American market in the 1920s where the rotated dial makes it easier to read when the hands are on the steering wheel. The Historiques Ultra-Fine 1955 watches pay tribute to Vacheron Constantin’s Caliber 1003 from 1955 - the brand’s thinnest movement ever created at that time.
Since the Historiques collection speaks to avid Vacheron Constantin enthusiasts that have an appreciation for the brand’s vintage pieces, the watches do not come cheap, starting at roughly $20,000 and climbing steeply from there.
Starting in 1912, Vacheron Constantin was one of the earliest watchmakers to produce wristwatches with tonneau (barrel) cases. Honoring the importance of this watch silhouette in the brand’s history, Vacheron Constantin unveiled the Malte collection in 2000. Malte watches feature modernized tonneau cases with sharper lines as opposed to the classic curves of traditional barrel-shaped watches.
Crafted in gold or platinum and often equipped with complicated movements, prices for Vacheron Constantin Malte watches start at the $25,000 mark for time-only references.
To commemorate the company’s 260th anniversary in 2015, Vacheron Constantin revealed yet another collection of non-round watches, this time with cushion cases inspired by the brand’s first wristwatch chronographs introduced in 1928. When the Harmony collection made its debut, it featured seven limited-edition models spanning from simpler dual time editions to highly complex split-seconds chronographs. Additionally, Vacheron Constantin also announced four new in-house calibers to power these new watches.
Vacheron has since added non-limited edition references to the Harmony collection and prices start at $40,000.
Named after the historical site of Vacheron Constantin in Geneva, the Quai De l'Ile collection was introduced in 2008. The lineup offered a wide range of customizable options (up to 400 combinations) to permit clients to create a watch to match their personal tastes via an online customization tool.
However, it seems that Vacheron Constantin has since done away with the website customization tool. The current Quai De l'Ile collection offers a handful of ready-made models in steel and gold, all sporting the architectural case design that is somewhere in between round, cushion, and tonneau-shaped. Prices start at $14,800 for the stainless steel Quai De l'Ile Self-Winding, and go up from there.
Unlike other luxury watch brands, Vacheron Constantin has not typically relied on brand ambassadors to market its watches. That is, until very recently with the launch of a new campaign named “One of not many,” which now includes four new faces of the brand. Musicians Benjamin Clementine and James Bay, photographer Cory Richards, and designer Ora Ito became Vacheron Constantin brand ambassadors in 2018.
In 2015, Vacheron Constantin made history by unveiling the most complicated watch in the world. The Vacheron Constantin reference 57260 boasts 57 complications (including four types of calendars) and took eight years to build. The piece measures a whopping 98mm in diameter and 50.55mm thick, and features two dials to house the displays for all the different functions.