In 1785, Abraham Vacheron took over the family watchmaking business from his father and the founder of our beloved marque. Within a year, Abraham married and thereby gained a wealthy father-in-law who was eager to support the business. Thus the company became Abraham Vacheron Girod in 1786. The Girod appellation persisted until 1816, to be superceded by another partner and another name; Vacheron Chossat. But that's another story...
The tradename Vacheron Girod went into hibernation in 1786 to be called back to active duty in 1822. The reason for this requires some background. Beginning in 1819, V&C produced what they called "secondary quality" watches for sale at more advantageous prices under other names such as Girod Colombey, Freres Desart, and Isaac Soret (this last name once belonged to another highly respected Genevan maker).
In 1822, these secondary quality trade names were abandoned for the singular line of Abraham Vacheron Girod (also abbreviated Abm. and A. Vacheron Girod), which remained in use until the 1880s when the Astral and Trident second-quality names appeared. Likely it was hoped that, as with Issac Soret, fond rememberances of the former name would endure prospective buyers to the knowledge that these were 2nd tier products.
The heavily-chased cases and engraved metal dials of the 2nd quality pieces closely resembled the earlier Vacheron Girod watches therefore the important fact to establish when examining a timepiece marked Vacheron Girod is the date! Helpfully, the movements were of contemporary design and now provide the most reliable tell-tale, as those from the 1786-1822 era will be verge and fusee while the later models have cylinder escapements.
These second quality watches would make a fascinating area of collecting and appeared to be the equal of many other brands available at the time. However, auction descriptions often fail to mention, or even realize, their seperate identities which can have unpleasant consequences for the collector. Another twist was the practice in the past for an owner to return their favorite timepiece to the factory for "revision" whereupon the movement may be replaced with a more modern version, thus making a hybrid. Thankfully, the VC archives will have the notations to verify authenticity.
Abm. Vacheron Girod secondary quality timepiece: