2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking

In the past 12 years the watchmaking industry has certainly gone through more changes than the whole of the 20th century united!
After its almost disappearance due to the arrival of cheap quartz timepieces the Swiss watch industry (later followed by the Germans) reinvented itself, concentrating on high end mechanical watches…no longer used as a time telling device but rather a status symbol or the symbol of traditional arts and crafts almost fully lost.

This revival that dates from the late 80s basically saw the industry continuing doing what it used to do, the ways of working remained the same, designs, sizes etc… had not changed. The different marques were continuing making watches like they were doing 20 years before. However, with the new millennia everything changed and the whole way the industry was functioning was turned upside down.
This article is not meant to be exhaustive nor a history of Swiss watchmaking but rather consists of my personal thoughts on what the major changes were but would also love to have your opinions.


 

The Race to Manufacture Mechanical Calibres2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking

Traditionally Swiss watchmaking – especially in Geneva was a divison of labor, a multitude of watchmakers, goldsmiths, jewelers combining their skills to produce watches and jewelry.

This can obviously be seen in the fact that up until the late 90s brands were using movements sourced from specialised third parties.
However, in the early 2000 it became obvious that collectors and enthusiasts wanted more something more exclusive which would only be available for the brand using it and started a huge race for inhouse movements which in return hiked up the prices of watches as investments in machinery were huge and volumes low (the development of a watch movement can go anywhere between CHF 3 million to CHF 5 million).

Late 1990s Vacheron Constantin had launched its first modern inhouse movement, the tonneau shaped Cal 1790 found in the Malte Tourbillon, followed in 2001 by Cal 1400 a beautiful manual wind which was originally launched in the Malte Grande Classique.
 

   
 
Cal 1790 skeleton Cal 1400


Things rapidly accelerated in 2005 and the 250th anniversary and the launch of Cal 2460, the brand’s first modern inhouse automatic caliber. In the past 12 years the brand has actually developed 26  inhouse movements and modules which represent the vast majority of the calibers found in its timepieces. Remain the manual wind chronograph cal 1141 which is based on Lemania and the movements housed in the Overseas models which use external ebauches. However Vacheron Constantin’s goal is to have 100% manufacture calibers in a very near future.
 

   
 
Cal 2450 Cal 1120

 
 

   
 
Cal 2755 (minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar) Cal 2253 (tourbillon, perpetual calendar, time of sunset/sunrise, equation of time)



Hand Finish2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking

Most watch movements are made of steel, brass or maillechort which are machined. These components are finished to remove burrs and traces but also to ensure longevity (for example beveling blocks the pores in the metal and thus become less prone to oxidization).
For me hand finish is the true mark of haute horlogerie as hand finish (the vast majority of finish in the industry is done by machines) can make up almost 1/3 of the price of a watch.
 

   
 
Bevelling Perlage


It is difficult to explain where this interest in superlative finish came from as the industry applied finish but not the type with WOW factor we can find today.  For a long time I thought the trend had started with Lange whose finish woke up the Swiss watchmaking industry but back in the mid to late 90s Lange was too small and modern German haute horology still in its infancy to be considered really a threat to the Swiss, but nevertheless the result is the same and collectors around the world are cheering to the finish of their timepieces.

Watchmaking schools do not teach movement finish so in Vacheron Constantin’s case a special training program has been set up which takes between 6 and 18 months (an apprentice needs 18 months of training to be able to work on interior angles!).
 

   
 
unfinished bridge finished bridge


For me superior hand finish truly sets haute horlogerie brands apart from the wannabes and VC is doing things correctly in my opinion by applying consistent finish not only on the complicated pieces (which is logical) but also on the “entry” level  movements whether on visible parts or those hidden under the dial. I once asked a lady working in this department if it wasn’t frustrating finishing parts that no one could see she answered “I’m making something beautiful that the watchmaker assembling or servicing will see and when they do they will be pleased with what I do and this is something which gives me great satisfaction.”
 

   
 
underdial of Cal 2460 R7 R31 underdial of Cal 1420


A full article on movement finish
 

 Complications: The Ne Plus Ultra
2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking

Historically complicated watches, especially multicomplications were made by a handful of very high end manufacturers who had the reputation and the clients to sell these pieces too.  Apart from Patek Philippe’s perpetual calendar chronographs and Vacheron Constantin’s unique triple date minute repeaters I can’t think of any wrist watch from the 1930s-1980s with multicomplications.
 

   
 
   


However in the late 80s brands started creating timepieces with only a few complications, the perpetual calendar minute repeater from 1994 comes to mind.

2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking
ref 30020


In 2005 Vacheron created the Tour de l’Ile which was at the time the worlds most complicated wrist watch with 16 complications and this seemed to have opened Pandora’s box, ever since, each year we see the arrival of brands boasting more complications and we have reached a situation where there are so many complications that they could knock you stone dead with horological indigestion!

2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking

An article on Vacheron Constantin's Most Complicated Pieces

But that’s not it. Almost every brand and its grandmother wanted part of the cake and fashion houses and entry level brands were introducing tourbillons and minute repeaters hoping to sell to a gullible clientele.
 

 

Size Matters
2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking

A subject matter which is constantly discussed on the Lounge, what is the perfect size? To each his own but the larger watch size is no longer a trend but a fact which I don’t see changing. Up until the mid 1990s men’s dress watches were in the 33-36mm range with the odd 37-38mm pieces pushing up to 40-42mm for the more sporty watches. Comes the Panerai craze in 1997-1998 and 44mm becomes the standard for a sports watch.


However it is only in 2004 with the launch of the Patrimony Contemporaine with its 40mm case that Vacheron Constantin launched the trend towards larger sized dress watches. Many, including me were shocked by the sheer size of this piece but the market (both clients and other brands) rapidly picked this trend up and almost 10 years after its launch the Patrimony Contemporaine has become an icon.
 

   
 
Malte Grand Classique 36mm Patrimony Contemporaine 40mm



   
 
Chronograph Historique from 1990s: 36mm Patrimony Traditionnelle Chronograpg from 2009: 42mm


 

 New Techniques and Materials2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking

This is a really interesting subject as for hundreds of years watches were made of gold, silver, steel or platinum, in the 2000s the use of new materials for watch cases boomed and titanium went from a niche metal to one largely used, even Vacheron Constantin tipped its toe into this metal in 2007 with the launch of the Overseas Engine limited edition only available in Japan and which had a titanium bezel, followed in 2008 with a full titanium case available for the Quai de l’Ile and the new Overseas models in steel with titanium bezel.
 

   
 
Overseas Engine Overseas in steel with titanium bezzel


Vacheron Constantin also used palladium along with palladium in a limited edition Quai de l'Ile, but tantalum being an extremely difficult to work with it seems that this was a one off for the brand.

 

 
Palladium/Tantalum Quai de l'Ile made for Only Watch auction

Titanium becoming mainstream many brands started testing even more original metals such as carbon fiber, zirconium, silicon or even a full sapphire case (the recent Richard Mille RM56).

But why stop on the exterior? The past years have seen a massive use of modern materials for the movement plates and components may it be carbon fiber, titanium, silicon, liga with all sorts of different surface treatments.

Vacheron Constantin hasn’t really jumped the wagon in terms of the use of these materials as no one really has any experience on how they will age, however different surface treatments have been tested such as black nickel on the Malte Tourbillon made in a limited series for Singapore, black diamond on the Malte Tourbillon made in a limited series for the US or ruthenium on the transparent dial Quai de l’Ile models.
 

   
 
Malte Tourbillon Singapore Malte tourbillon US


 
 



Disruptive Designs
2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking

Certainly the element that made the most noise in the past decade and surprisingly one of the few trends which started with small boutique brands upwards.

In 1998 Vianney Halter launched a perpetual calendar in a form never seen before: the Antiqua, a real UFO in the world of horology who had remained (other than a few tests in the 1970s) true to traditional forms.

 

 
Vianney Halter Antiqua photo courtesy of Gary G


In 2000 Richard Mille launched its first watch in what seemed like a classical tonneau case but featuring many novel design elements, 2003 saw the arrival of Harry Winston’s Opus 3 made by Vianney Halter and from there on the likes of MB&F and Urwerk hit the collective radars followed by many other brands, this time with no horological substance confusing avant garde designs with gimmicks!
 

   
 
MB&F Horological Machine 2 Urwerk 103


Vacheron Constantin may be close 260 years old but it has managed to survive so long because it has adapted to its era and without being completely disruptive some designs have been quite avant garde and bold. May it be the two limited edition Malte Tourbillons, the Sputnik made for the Russian market, the amazing Masks series or the Quai de l’ile model line which may seem traditional today but just 5 years ago at its launch in 2008 had taken the community aback with its modern look.
 

  Title
 
Sputnik Metiers d'Art Les Masques


 

*******************************************
 

The major economic meltdown the world has been witnessing since 2008 has obviously had an impact on the watch industry. Clients seem to be looking for reassurance in their purchases turning to less complicated yet classical watches but is this a back to the roots and the pre 2000 situation or will we be seeing a mix? Only time will tell
 
 
 
 
 

07/02/2013 - 19:47
07/04/2013 - 13:26
JB
07/03/2013 - 21:33
07/04/2013 - 01:29
07/04/2013 - 17:05
07/05/2013 - 02:05
07/07/2013 - 14:11
01/25/2014 - 21:16
Wonderful article, Alex.
07/02/2013 - 19:47
Competition among watch brands is fierce. Brands are doing their best to innovate and adapt to the changing market demand signals you identified in your arrticle. It's clear to me...either adapt through innovation or be left in the dust. Vacheron has done an amazing job driving innovation combined with originality into its product line-up since 2000. I, like many others, eagerly await their in-house chronographs, which I think will help to define Vacheron for the next decade plus. Thanks, Paul
Thanks Paul, its very Darwenian either adapt or disappear (ntt
07/04/2013 - 13:19
e
Very thought-provoking Alex
07/03/2013 - 00:06
The extra costs for hand-finishing is well worth it and has really become a VC characteristic.  Still, I hope some innovation in movement design is on the drawing boards, with the result that greater accuracy is obtained and less maintenance required.  That would be one way to establish a cost-benefit in the minds of buyers for the high price at the front end.  Many I talk with that dipped their toe into haute horlogerie pulled out after being slapped with what they perceive to be ridiculous routine service charges and waits, not to mention the depreciation.
silicon and lubrication free solutions seem the only way today to
07/04/2013 - 13:24
lengthen maintenance intervals but the question is how will these solutions age?
Re: 2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking
07/03/2013 - 11:12
Loved it! I read at the office, an excelent article!!
thank you Dragos (nt)
07/04/2013 - 13:26
e
your article on the evolution till 2012 is sharp and honest...
07/03/2013 - 12:14
it concurrs with my observations. first , the bigger-sized watches are taking over especially in the sport watch category and the market is telling that it's not turning, that is why most vintage pieces are suffering in price with the exceptions of those watches with foresight that are bigger and/or with grand complications are doing exceptionally well. the expansion of the watch industry and market has obviously caused shortage in skilled watch makers,and many brands have sorted out CNC machines, with few brands remaining true to the old artisan way of hand finishing. the expansion in market has also brought acceptance for independents and given collectors more choices in the higher -end categories with more varietal time-telling and innovations. (regret the reply in single paragraph as i am unable to format with my keyborad)
bigger watches also enable better reading of time and with age I
07/04/2013 - 13:27
appreciate it :-)
Great post and reflection about horology revolution.
07/03/2013 - 14:46

I agree completly on the topics Manufacture, Finish , Complications, Size, Techniques and materials, great writing, very insightful ! On the size I see an important year: 1993 with Panerai and Royal Oak Offshore.  Their success took a litlle time but one must admit that they were very successful in the end. I regret the new standard in 40/42mm  for my small wrist but things evolve, I am confident to see more offer for smaller wrists in 36mm :) . 1993 is also important because of Lange came in. 

On the design you are so right to talk about Vianney's amazing Antiqua, I would add that the whole new world of independant appeared: You quote Richard Mille which is imho a very important step  for futuristic creations in 2001. In a more classical design, FP.Journe also  made some marvellous creations and were success story. Even if the story is not such a good example, there were already Gerald Genta and Franck Müller in the 90s, Dubuis also contributed to high horology etc etc All these independant have an advantage, they are very free to create what they want when they start and that gave a huge boost to innovative watchmaking and creative design.

Communication have also evolved a lot too, not only the technical part, your presence and your appreciation among collector is a great proof :) , internet, new way to communicate, many things happened, and basically internet. Vacheron woke up after a quiet period in the eighties imho in the 90s Vacheron came back and really "exploded" with creativity in the 2000s. For me definitely the high ned brand that evolved the most, and in the best direction.

I probably should have indicated the rise of the internet and the
07/04/2013 - 13:28
different ways brands have opened discussions with their aficionados 
Re: 2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking
07/03/2013 - 15:39
Alex,  Your article is also an authentic masterpiece. I learned a lot. Best regards,
Thank you Fandejo, glad you enjoyed (nt)
07/04/2013 - 13:29
e
Thanks, Alex, for a thoughtful and very interesting article.
07/03/2013 - 16:22
There is a lot to think about and it raises a lot of questions. I strongly believe that the Vacheron Constantin policy regarding their products is the correct one, and I hope that history will be on their side as so often before. Other companies come and go, but few are there year after year. The company has always had an amazing ability to follow the trends in fashion. I may be quite off topic, and I may actually be talking nonsense, but for me a brand’s history is extremely important. 2000-2013 is just a fleeting moment of this great company’s history. It can be more or less important, but soon it is just a part of VC long history.   I tried to define why I collect Vacheron Constantin watches. When I look at one of my Vacheron Constantin watches I see the marks of all the greatness from VC’s finest achievements (1755-2013). Thanks for a super post. I have now read it several times. Regards Kent
The fact that the brand has been along for so longe shows that it
07/04/2013 - 13:31
has always adapted to its erra. I agree with you that history is very important
Re: 2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking
07/03/2013 - 16:53
Dear Alex, Thank you for the great ,exquisite article..indeed the last decade was the biggest revolution in watchmaking industry ever...keep going quoting interesting articles. Best wishes from the rainy Zurich of Switzerland.
Pigasos good to have you with us and looking forward in
07/04/2013 - 13:32
"seeing" you here more often yes
Alex, you have truly outdone yourself. You explain watchmaking
07/03/2013 - 17:29
And the watchmaking industry so easy to comprehend, all the while illustrating it from the eyes of VC ! As always, excellent article. As I keep requesting you, please make a compilation of all articles into a sort of book for HL members. :-) Watch journalists the world over write long articles on watches and brands and the industry, yet in many cases one fails to understand what is being written about. You really have talent for making the history, techniques, manufacturing and finishing processes, and trends etc. come alive in such an interesting manner.
Thank you for your kind words KK ;-)
07/04/2013 - 13:33
e
An excellent review, Alex!
07/03/2013 - 21:33
Wow, Alex! What a complicated topic, with so many facets. Thanks for raising the issue. It is very thought-provoking. I think it comes down to the basic question of what determines a desire for a specific watch and the ultimate reason for purchase. There has been a trend to the bigger watch which is confined more, but not entirely, to sports watches and an appeal to the macho element. I think to those who find these watches appealing, the design of the movement and its precision and beauty are largely irrelevant. There is also an approach whereby watch companies find marketing ploys to sell their watches, ie association with autos, sporting events and celebrities of all kinds. Again this aspect has nothing to do with the watch itself but rather the association of a product with something that improves its marketability. Vacheron is not immune to this approach, but has taken the high side in its sponsoring of artistic events and groups to help present its products. It is an approach to a relatively smaller market but one with relatively higher amounts of disposable income. They obviously feel the trade-off is worth it. I also think that Vacheron has taken the high road in its design, enlarging the watch but with restraint and eschewing gimmickry. No doubt unusually and weird designs have their appeal and are interesting to look at but it does not have the long lasting endurance  and appeal that lasts decades, if not centuries. By maintaining its classical approach with some interesting but not wacky variations, Vacheron has in fact broadened its appeal. The reintroduction and modernization of some older pieces, such as the 1921 and 1955 has been a master-stroke, with wide acceptance. Apart from the small atelier producers like Dufour, Vacheron has, I believe, the best hand finishing department of any watch manufacturer. And this aspect is something that has been a hallmark for Vacheron. Although the history of a company is important, there are others manufacturers who also have distinguished histories such a Breguet and Lange. Others have had a much shorter story but are also quite impressive. The question that has always puzzled me is why Vacheron does not have the same cache as Patek and a much poorer resale value. And this question may affect peoples decision making in harder economic times. I believe that it boils down to perceived value, not actual value or value for the dollar. in this respect, I think that Vacheron has fallen behind others in their approach to a wider audience. This approach may be intentional. I don't know. It does appear that VC has no problem selling their entire production output (I've heard) But perhaps VC should nevertheless survey their boutiques and AD’s to find out why someone who comes in does not buy a Vacheron. Perhaps an approach emphasizing the hand-finishing aspect and the longevity/value of the watches should be considered. Anyway, just a few thoughts on a very complex issue.  
+1 to you and KBS
07/04/2013 - 13:31
 Vacheron has not sacrificed itself to a marketing where a guy is shown more than the watch.The watch itself and its finish is the best marketing, Does a "métier d'art" needs any kind of support to be sold? I don't think so, it speaks by itself, it doesn't need to be marketed as "tradition", "hand work" etc, it IS. Don't be bothered by the resale value, in the end as the knowledge grows, the content is what matters, and VC is in the best position. It just takes time wink.
I agree with most of your comments Joseph however not sure that I
07/04/2013 - 13:40
agree on this statement "But perhaps VC should nevertheless survey their boutiques and AD’s to find out why someone who comes in does not buy a Vacheron". Today the order books are filled for close to 3 years and there is a waiting list for pieces like the American 1921! But I agree that on certain pieces resale can be diffucult but I've noticed that Murphy's law always applies to me as a seller its a buyer's market and as a buyer the watch i want is not available! But thank you for your candid comments
Re: 2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking
07/03/2013 - 21:47
I wouldn't mind adding my two cents. During the nineties, Timezone gurus made such a big stink over the in-house superiority of movements vs. outsourced that I think it influenced a lot of people in that website. After all, a Jaeger ebauche may be finished exquisitely and may actually be a better engineered and functional movement than someone else's in-house. However, because of the trend for in-house and because of the big capital infusions by Richemont,  VC was able to have in-house movements to control its own quality on the entry level watches. Even during the 1990's, in my opinion, the upper level VC's were every bit as good as, say, PP's in finish and technique. It's hard to compete with a company that is so vertically integraded though "if it's possible...and it is always possible". However, it is nice seeing the smaller boutiques creating innovation, Lange creating beautifully finished movements, stepping up the bar, though I don't get their creativity..Lastly, I would be careful to follow trends as trends come and go in the flash of an eye. Let VC work on the classical and in creating exceptional beauty and finish which made Vacheron, Vacheron in the past.
Yes inhouse movement doesn't mean a better movement (nt)
07/04/2013 - 13:41
e
Re: 2000-2012: The Years That Changed Watchmaking
07/04/2013 - 01:13
An excellent and thought-provoking read, Alex!  Very interesting to see that, as you say, the various changes had differing initiation points (e.g., Panerai for larger size, independents for novel physical forms, etc.). Also very interesting to read your take on how Vacheron has taken part in these movements while remaining true to its essence. Will be looking forward to future synopses from you with great interest! Best, Gary
Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you don't mind I borrowed one
07/04/2013 - 13:42
of your photos but it is the best Antiqua photo I have seen yes
To the contrary...
07/05/2013 - 03:10
...I was very flattered to see one of my efforts in your great article! Best, Gary
Fantastic write-up, Alex!
07/04/2013 - 01:29
Thank you for an excellent article and the shots of my all-time favorite avant-garde VCs: QdI Tantalum as well as the Sputnik. Always get bothered with the question whether freshly-divorced Wladimir owns one. Engine is still on my short list. I will get it one of these days... As to your observations and conclusion, no doubt a watchmaking house with a history of close to 260 yrs will find a successful mix of heritage and trend inspiration to deliver beautiful timepieces for another quarter of century.
Thanks Radek, the 260th anniversary is around the corner and many
07/04/2013 - 13:43
"blanks" will be filled
Interesting Perspective and Great Reading
07/04/2013 - 15:00
I agree that it makes a lot of sense to make larger watches and use in-house movements, but I think it is worth differentiating between highly finished fist quality movements like those that VC used for most of the 20th Century, and the ETA or other mass produced movements that are slapped into a case with very little customization by lesser brands. It is also worth noting that while the 30-34mm vintage watches are not selling well at auction, many of the most coveted VC and PP pieces are in the 36-38mm range. With a decent set of lugs, those watches still look great on the wrist. As far as what the future holds for advanced materials and technology, I do think that VC should step it up a bit. I would like to see some experimental pieces produced with advanced materials such as silicone escapements, and put out into the market as PP does with the proviso that they be sent back to the manufacture for service. That is how the firm will learn how these perform in actual service over time. Case materials, too. Tantalum may be hard to work with, but buyers do seem willing to pay a premium for these "more exclusive" materials. Again, Alex, thatns for all your hard work putting these ineresting pieces together for us.
VC clients sometimes do not seem to be open to change, when the
07/04/2013 - 19:17
Quai de l'Ile was launched its welcome was lukewarm to say the least!  I agree with you on using more novel materials and technical solutions but seems that the clients aren't always ready but I think we shall see interesting things in a not too distant future
Great post Alex
07/04/2013 - 17:05
The other guys pretty much summed up my thoughts but I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write this post. I found it a very enjoyable read.
Thank you Hamish, glad you enjoyed the read (nt)
07/04/2013 - 19:17
e
Nice food for thought
07/05/2013 - 02:05
Hi Alex, Thank you for your post that made me step back and think about these 13 past years. I must say that I share many of your points: Multiple complications, new materials and disruptive designs in bigger sizes are the strong overthrowing aspects of those years. It is very difficult to find few wristwatches in the XXth century that can match one of these criterias. It is impossible for me to think about one single model that matches all. Concerning the level of hand finish, and the the race to manufacture calibers, I consider that the latest evolution is less disruptive but more a backward movement to the early decades of the XXth century. Manufacture movements were already a trend in the 30s. The high number of different movements at that time was amazing. Not only the high watches, but also the more popular brand. Concerning hand finish, the majority of high grade watches of the middle XXth had superb hand finished movements, with few gorgeous interior angles. Have the modern 3-hands watches a better finish now than their ancestors in the 50s? I am not sure. I enjoy so much the 1008 of my Chronometre Royal ;) Finally, in my view, there is 2 final exceptional characteristic of the last decade that are worth being mentioned: - the inflation of prices that went higher and higher for the exact same product without any industrial drivers, but changes in forex for one small part and marketing for the main part. Am I wrong if I say that the Overseas Chronograph 49150 is almost twice more expensive than it was 10 years ago? Mechanical watchmaking is now definitively in the Luxury sphere. - the tribute to the vintage heritage that was used and re-used by all brands that could afford it, i.e. that had enough history to highlight their old iconic models. Toledo 1952, American 1921, Ultrathin 1955, Prestige de France 1972, ... Thank you again for your though-provoking post.
thank you for your comments and I agree with you however I
07/05/2013 - 12:36
believe that hand finish and manufacture calibers even if offered by the brands were not sytematically as important for the clients as today As for price inflation...angry
Re: Nice food for thought
07/05/2013 - 20:07
One slight hisorical point on the history of horology, though. The great American watch houses,circa 1865-1925 or therabouts all went belly up because they incorporated the total watch under one roof. They couldn't compete with the Swiss because the Swiss watch industry which was so diversified. Therefore one component was made by a highly skilled watch component maker and another maker would make another component and so on. I think American railroad watches were known for their exact timing requirements, But they all went the way of the dust becauseof the Swiss tradition of using a lot of different component makers who were perfectionists on that one component they might have made. Having said that it's great, as previously said, That VC make in-house movements with a quality finish that is not to be outdone by any one else in the industry.
Excellent in-depth and great thoughts!
07/06/2013 - 03:54
Thank you Alex! My thought is forward: i think as in cosmetics & leather goods, women are considered a "saturated" group; in the case of watches, men's are very much "developped", maybe the watch industry should consider more of the not yet matured group: women. Size matters, I personally & firmly believe 36-38mm is a perfect size and plenty of room for innovation and to show off craftsmanship. Diamond was a girl's best friend back in the 50s, now they want more. Mother-of-pearl might be good for Napolitan queens but what if now the ladies don't want to be queen or princess, maybe a layer of jade or lapis lazuli appeals more to their hearts? Same logic applies to the weight issue, city life is very hectic, people want to feel free, they don't want "handcuffs" on their wrists, tie up their pulpse, so working on new materials ( for the dial / case) is a demand in which your article already mentioned. Women are complicated so they will appreciate complications, if not, they want to look sophiscated at least! The rest will go for the bling bling : D And VC will say, " oh ladies, we have everything in store, désirez -vous? ":-)
KL you hit the nail on the head. Women want more than just
07/08/2013 - 11:17
a smaller sized men's version with diamonds. During a recent trip to Shanghai I was speaking with a group of women during a watch event they were saying that they wanted to have real watches with real complications made just for them, not just a feminised version of a man's watch
Very enlightening post
07/07/2013 - 14:11
Thanks Alex for this detailed and educating post. I learned alot from it and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I still feel VC's strength is in the classics, historic and artistic side in terms of design. And how VC updates its historical models is really impressive (eg the latest Prestige 1972). cheers robin wong
Thank you Robin, I think VC will stay classical...but with a twist ;-)
07/08/2013 - 11:18
e
Been on the road and just finished this great article. Bravo Alex
07/07/2013 - 21:41
and nice to have a personal point of view. A very collector's perspective. Thank you, Tim
Glad you enjoyed the read Tim (nt)
07/08/2013 - 11:18
e
Fantastic article Alex!
07/24/2013 - 01:37
Many thanks for posting... an excellent resource!
glad you enjoyed it :-) (nt)
08/12/2013 - 13:21
e
Dear Sir,
01/25/2014 - 21:16
I'm quite new on this forum, therefore I just got through this very important post recently. First I have to tell, I was amazed by this type of insider aspect of watchmaking, which is clearly an important part of marketing, of course, and there's nohingt peiorative in it. I think we shouldn't forget the importance of the internet eighter, anyway, we are on an internet forum right now, which put everything about watches in the grasp of our hand - but totally unselected. One can easily believe in this pletora of information, that there's such a huge story behind Italian frogmen's instruments, or what was Pope Pius X. wearing, etc. even if it's totally irrelevant in itself. But what is clearly changing nowadays, in my personal view, is that more and more watch collectors are trying to find a kind of symmetry  between movements and watches/watchcases, and now they tend be much more interested in the intrinsic value of a timepiece, very far from being flashy, big, absurde. And Vacheron Constantin HAS still a big role in this story to play, bringing back true master horlogerie to the focus of many of us, who just find your company recently, while searching for something really classy, reasonably sized, (36-38mm) thin and restrained, elegant timepiece, that will be good to look at for the lucky few even a couple of decades later.  Your article was an excellent entrée for that role! Sincerely, Csaba