I have been invited recently to a visit to the Vacheron Constantin manufactory in Geneva and had the chance to get a deep insight into the manufactory’s secrets during three days together with twelve other jewellers from all over Europe. Vacheron Constantin is the oldest watch manufacturer in continuous activity in Switzerland and one of the most exclusive. Nearly all watches, that are produced here in a very limited number units, bear the Hallmark of Geneva. This seal of quality stands for highest standards in the art of watchmaking. The hallmark certifies for example that even the smallest component of the movement is processed and finished. Only if all requirements of the Geneva Hallmark are fulfilled, may it be embossed on the case, as shown on the picture.
We stayed at the Swissôtel Metropole located directly on the waterfront in the centre of Geneva. On the first day, we went to Plan-Les-Ouates. This is where the international headquarters of Vacheron Constantin are located: a most beautiful building in the shape of half a Maltese cross, the manufactory’s symbol. In addition to the company’s management and administration departments, the building also houses the production facilities, which we were of course happy to visit.
The visit was an absolutely exciting experience! We could watch the watchmakers as they worked and talk to them. The manufacture of complicated watches was particularly interesting for me. Here each watchmaker works on one movement from the start to the end until it is finally completed and encased in the watch. The watchmaker establishes thus a very personal relationship with the watch. This individual production is a specialty of Vacheron Constantin and can only be found at the most exclusive manufactories worldwide. Following we had the opportunity to have a look at the new Overseas collection. The models feature finest movements in a sporty case design. Each model comes with three different wristbands: metal, leather and natural rubber. They can easily and quickly be changed thanks to a special change system.
The next morning we travelled to “Watch Valley” to visit the new Vacheron Constantin manufactory in Le Brassus. This is where the movement components are manufactured and processed. State-of-the-art CNC milling machines produce all parts of the movement from the base plate to the chronograph lever. The parts are then embellished with the typical Vacheron Constantin patterns. There is a specialist for each type of finish and no component leaves the manufactory for being sent to Plan-Les-Ouates before it is has not been painstakingly processed by hand.
The third day was also a very special day. We visited the Métiers d’Arts department in Plan-Les-Ouates. This is the artistic crafts department where enamel works, engraving and diamond setting are carried out: century-old crafts that only few companies master and train nowadays. Special dials and cases for limited editions or custom-made pieces are made here. Some of the tasks are carried out with machines that are more than 100 years old. Every piece is unique! We really enjoyed these eventful days in Switzerland. They gave us a detailed insight into the world of Vacheron Constantin. Thanks to the many new impressions I can now give my customers and colleagues at the showroom an even closer understanding of the brand.