Grand Tour: Vacheron Constantin's Les Collectionneurs Arrives In North America
A selection of Les Collectionneurs pieces is coming to the Big Apple!
Vacheron Constantin was one of the first brands to understand that there is a strong demand for authentic vintage watches. And thanks to its Heritage Department Specialists who go on treasure hunts to find pieces that perfectly embody the spirit of Vacheron Constantin, the collection evolves with each find. But the only way for the brand's enthusiasts to acquire one is during exclusive events organized in boutiques around the world. The good news is, Les Collectionneurs is finishing its world tour in New York!
Watchonista was lucky enough to get a closer look at a selection of these historical timepieces from the 20th century.
In 2015, Vacheron Constantin, to celebrate the 260th anniversary of the maison, launched an homage to the ref. 11007 in the Harmony collection with complications such as a tourbillon and minute repeater.
But with only 15 pieces ever produced in yellow gold, this extremely rare, cushion-shaped chronograph (ref. 11007) originally sold in Argentina dates back to 1929. The 36mm cushion-shaped case reminds us of the Historiques American 1921 that the brand introduced at last month's Watches & Wonders.
Meanwhile, Heritage Department Specialists on the hunt also found and restored a beautiful and elegant model 4178 (ref. 12024). With its fan-shaped lugs, it's one of the most sought-after chronograph models ever produced by Vacheron Constantin. These unusual lugs on this 36mm yellow gold timepiece were all the talk in the '40s.
Originally made in 1945, this 18K yellow gold chronograph is powered by the V492 movement. On the silver dial, a French telemeter scale completes the timepiece. If you are interested in vintage watch ads, you can easily spot the 4178 in the Vacheron Constantin watch ads from the era, together with a jet boat. Beautifully restored by Vacheron Constantin artisans, this 4178 looks new and is sure to delight collectors.
Truth be told, there might not be a more elegant way to look up the time than with a pocket watch. Happily, we were able to get hands-on with two of the pieces coming to North America.
The first one that caught our eye is the Platinum Open Face Ultra-Thin Minute Repeater Pocket Watch (ref. 11757). At first glance, it looks like an ordinary pocket watch, but it is, in fact, a minute repeater! Back in the 1920s, the minute repeaters broadcasted the time to their owners. They were almost like a long-lost cousin of Siri. Vacheron Constantin excelled at miniaturizing these types of movements, with this minute repeater movement measuring only 4.20mm for a total thickness of 5.7mm.
The platinum case was also quite popular back then because people thought of it as a modern material. Nowadays, platinum is sought after because of its resistance. Regardless of the reasons behind its broader appeal, platinum is, for vintage watch collectors, the metal of excellence due to its rarity and longevity, as it doesn't oxidize with time.
The second pocket watch that caught our eye is the 18K yellow gold open-face chronograph pocket watch, ref. 10699. This 53.75mm yellow gold chronograph was produced in very limited quantities and was considered an innovative tool for sports and even scientists! With its white enamel dial, the watch is elegant and a true testament to Vacheron Constantin's savoir-faire.
The yellow gold caseback dons a simple "Vacheron Constantin Geneve" engraving. Another interesting aspect of this pocket watch is the movement, which was highly complicated for its time, plus it was made with brass to avoid corrosion.
Last but not least is the 18K yellow gold Triple Calendar wristwatch, model 4240, ref. 12117. Launched in 1942, the 4240 quickly became a hit and instantly recognized as a Vacheron Constantin with its "triple godrons" case coupled with claw-shaped lugs. The white dial is beautifully paired with the red day and date windows with month. Existing in several variations, this particular model was sold in Zurich back in 1945.
The triple calendar complication was so emblematic of Vacheron Constantin's savoir-faire that in 2017, the manufacture revived the timepiece in the Historiques collection.
Collecting the Collectors – How to See Les Collectionneurs?
Like all the other collections, Les Collectionneurs continues to evolve over time and regularly offers new vintage models Vacheron Constantin was able to source. Les Collectionneurs will tour North America this spring, with a final stop in New York City, where, for the first time, the collection will permanently live. Each piece is available to purchase and comes with a two-year warranty and a certificate of authenticity.
So far, this offer by Vacheron Constantin is unequaled by any other brand in the industry. Moreover, it builds the collector's confidence by buying vintage directly from the original source. Happy Collecting!
Learn more about the Les Collectionneurs collection on Vacheron Constantin’s website.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)