One of life's great pleasures is travel. The opportunity to view distant lands, experience new food and drink, sample exotic cultures and meet local citizens is definitely rewarding. One of my most prized experiences when I visit any new land would be to sample local produce, manufactured goods and discover local industry and commerce.
When I visit Geneva, Switzerland I relish the opportunity to shop, research and stay amazed from the fabulously artesian craft of exclusive watch making found in the city's endless jewelry ateliers. The city of Geneva could be the center of Swiss timepiece manufacturing and also the array of brands, models and stupendously elegant, technologically advanced watches on display is the ultimate experience of viewing " old world " craftsmanship in contemporary times. One of my reactions on seeing the feast of horlogerie on display in Geneva is obviously this: who buys these watch styles, from scores of limited production houses, at such stunning prices?
Obviously, the international demand for exclusive, custom built watches is big and growing. Rolex, Piaget, Chopard, Audemars Piquet and dozens of other centuries old exclusive watch manufacturers are headquartered in Geneva. The oldest, and in many ways the most exclusive, is Vacheron Constantin. This venerable house has an excellent instance of how early brand stays in front of the competition, keeps reinventing itself and prospering through constant innovation.
Vacheron Constantin was founded in 1755 by Jean-Jacques Vacheron. Mr. Vacheron was a great jeweler and watchmaker, in addition to a progressive businessman. In 1770 his new Company came up with first 'complication' as well as some years rolex replica later Mr. Vacheron invented and positioned in his timepieces the novel 'engine turned dials'. These early advances in technology helped establish the good reputation for quality and gratifaction that the business enjoys even today.
After narrowly surviving the horrors in the French Revolution, Vacheron Constantin became one of the first watchmakers to export. First to France and Italy, and then, most of all North America, the Company enjoyed early 19th century success on the list of newly rich industrialists and aristocrats who sought craftsmanship, exclusivity and elegance in timepieces. The Company's branding motto, 'Do better when possible, and it is definitely possible' was first used in 1819 and is still being used today.
Vacheron Constantin was the first manufacturer for amazing production of standardized movements into 'Calibers'. The Art Society of Geneva awarded the Company the Gold Medal in 1844 for inventing the breakthrough 'pantographic device', an innovation that further separated Vacheron Constantin from competitor's production technology. In 1885 the Company introduced pieces made out of novel non-magnetic technology, including movement components created from palladium and gold.
In 1906 the first Company owned store was opened on the Quai de I'lle as well as the boutique continues to be operating in the same location to this day. During World War I, the Great Depression and World War II the Company struggled, but managed to remain solvent by catering to the fashion conscious with stunning new design and styling cues. After the conclusion of fighting in Europe in 1945, the Company immediately began marketing new strategies and products to regain hegemony.
The 'Patrimony' model was then introduced. This is one of essentially the most famous, exclusive and collectible watches on earth. The 'Patrimony' was earth's thinnest watch, with a thickness of only 5.25 mm.
The 'Kallista' model was introduced in the 1970's. The 'Kallista' is considered the most expensive and exclusive watch on the planet. Initially sold for $5 million, it is now valued at $11 million. 'Kallista' is enriched with 118 emerald cut diamonds, requires 6000 hours of master watch maker labor and 20 months of detailed embellishment from the finest jewelers in Switzerland.
Today, after more than 2 ?? centuries of producing essentially the most desirable watches and timepieces in the world, Vacheron Constantin is constantly enjoy good results and demand for product exceeds supply. The Company, now a subsidiary of luxury goods powerhouse Richemont Group, makes only 20,000 pieces a year. The exclusive pieces are offered in 16 Company owned stores and less that 500 carefully chosen luxury retailers in 80 countries. Vacheron Constantin watches are already worn by Napoleon Bonaparte, Pope Pius VI, Nicholas Sarkoszy, Harry Truman, Clark Gable as well as the Duke of Windsor replica rolex daytona simply to name a few from the famous people proven to sport this classic brand.
Any research conducted around the history of watch makers will uncover various brands that would not survive competition, changing tastes or technological advances. Vacheron Constantin has not only survived, but flourished and grow one with the handful of consumer products (think Ferrari, Dom Perignon, Brioni,
Faberge, Chanel) which exist as category icons. When fashionable people seek the optimum quality and craftsmanship in timepieces they immediately think Vacheron Constantin.