Buying first VC. Advice needed

Hello everyone,

I just registred on this forum after being a Rolex collector for 7 yeards and timezone member. I decided to add a nice and interesting dress watcfh to my  Roelx collection and decided that it has to be either a Patek or a VC. I really know very little about this brands compared to how much I know about Rolex, Omega and Breitling that I used to collect. Could someone help me and enlighten me about the following:

1. Is VC just as good as a Patek? If they are, why does VC depreciates more than Patek?
2. Which woudl you choose a Patek Calatrava or a VC Patrimony?
3. If I choose a VC, which watch woudl you recommned given a limited budget. Is it possible to find a VC for around 10K?
4. Finally, I really like the Vacheron Constantin les Historiques Chronograph ref. 47101. Woudl you recomend it over a VC Patrimony?

Thank you all so much for any input or advice that you can provice!
Hi Alexe, welcome to THL!
04/29/2012 - 11:37
I don't think there are any black and white, yes or no, answers to the questions you pose.  Here is my attempt (and just my opinion). 1. Throughout their existence: both VC and Patek have always been at the highest end of Haute Horology, with credibility that can only be established through time.  It has only been since the rebirth of the mechanical watch as a luxury item in the 1980s/90s that Patek has become such a powerful Brand.  In terms of quality, VC takes a back seat to nobody!  But quality is not the same as market perception/value.  (VC in the past has been ultra conservative and very discreet in providing information to the public - that has been both a blessing and a curse to the market.  I love it from a Brand Culture point of view, but hate it when I want to learn as much as I can about the Brand's history, production, and detailed minutae) 2. There are so many within the Calavatra and Patrimony lines, it is hard to say.  I would prefer a Patrimony, but that is strict personal preference - do you like blondes or brunettes, Red or White wines.  One can definitely have a preference, but it doesn't mean one is better than the other. 3.  Unless you are looking at the vintage or second-hand market, I don't think their are any watches in the Patrimony line that have a list price at or below US$10K.  (We don't talk about grey market or discounts on THL). 4. Are you comparing the Historiques Chronograph with the Patrimony Chronograph, or with a simpler Patrimony?  I am one of the few that is not too interested in chronographs, but there are other Loungers that just love them.  Both the Historique's and Patrimony Chronographs are based on the same Lemania ebauche, so I would say which one appeals to your more in terms of aesthetics may be the deciding factor. Hang around the Lounge and you will learn a lot from the passionate Vacheronistas we have here.  I have learned so much from so many since I joined THL in 2007. Best Regards, Dan
Welcome to the Lounge Alexe!
04/29/2012 - 16:45
Dan's answers are pretty much on point. As a person who prefers simple complications, I have spent a considerable amount of time looking at this comparison (I'd also include Lange's Saxonia in the mix because it is in the same league in my opinion). Of course you are at the Hour Lounge, so my answers are a bit biased ;). But to answer your questions (Alex G, I am sorry if I am using price ranges here, but its difficult to help without acknowledging Alexe's restriction, so feel free to edit as necessary): 1. Yes, in some cases I find the finish better (very minute at this level, but its the little details that stand out). For instance in the Patrimony Traditionelle line there are small curlings at the bottom of the case that are just stunning. As for the Contemporaine, well its an icon and the case is light, thin, and perfect for a dress watch. More so, I don't like the fact the Patek rhodium-plates their gold watches. Yes, it gives them a shine, but over time it is not optimal in my view. I much prefer Vacheron's solution of using more Palladium (came about around 2007), which gives the shine a warmer feel and doesn't look weird years on where you tend to find unevenness in the shine with the Rhodium-plated watches . As Dan mentioned, the depreciation is market-controlled and Patek is a much bigger player in terms of production (just over double) and market spread (they were fast on the name spread and marketing to establish themselves as what some see as 'the' premier mainstreaml watch brand). However, in recent years, Vacheron has been doing quite well (and stronger). So we shall see. 2. VC Patrimony for the aesthetics, finishes, and overall look. The Calatravas have tended to strike me as a bit boring (and the opaline dial that sometimes comes in the Calatrava range, which is now referred to as silvery-grey, is just not to my taste). Again, here I would not discount a Lange Saxonia, since it is just as well made (and with the low production numbers, less likely to run into someone wearing the same). Of course, I am not you and our tastes may significantly differ. 3. In your price-range (I am assuming USD) your realistic options if you are looking for a new piece are (don't forget the relevant taxes to be added): Patek: honestly you are looking at 20-25k even with manual references such as 5116, 5119, and 5196. Haven't heard anything on the pricing of the new ref. 5123, though, but doubt that it will be significantly lower. Vacheron: here it is more the 18-20k when looking at the manual winding references 81180 (Contemporaine) and 82172 (Traditionelle) Lange: Saxonia manual winding or Saxonia thin (at 40mm but what a beauty) should both be under 20k as well. In the secondary market, you will have better luck. A cursory look on some websites can give you an idea, but the preference is to always check with an AD, especially since there are too many fakes out there. That said, on the secondary market, as you noted, Patek are higher priced. Considering the budget, I'd personally focus on finding either a Contemporaine 81180, a Traditionelle 82172 (lmore difficult since its newer), or a Lange Saxonia manual winding or automatik.These three may be found in the 10k -12k range in very good condition (or better if you are lucky).  In any case, those would be (and in the past have been) my choices - again, some bias here ;). That said, if you look at older models, there are deals to be had especially if you look at the ones on auction where some Vacheron beauties are being acquired for fantastic deals. When looking at older Vacheron models, I'd suggest checking in with us here before pulling the trigger so that you can be confident that your choice is authentic since the people here are as knowledgeable as they get (even auction houses sometimes get it wrong... I'm looking at one with the letter 'A'). 4. Again, as Dan mentioned, is your comparison between (a) a Patrimony Chrono and a Historiques Chrono or is it (b) between a Patrimony (Traditionelle/Contemporaine) and a Historiques Chrono? In the first instance, I'd say go Historiques Chrono since they are based on a similar ebauche and the Historiques Chrono can be had for below 20k on the secondary market. Plus its got that beautiful vintage feel, and if you find one with a Salmon dial, well you will be the envy of many of us here ;). But if your comparison is Patrimony Traditionelle/Contemporaine or a Historiques Chrono, it is a veryy different comparison where you have to ask yourself whether you are comfortable pulling off a Chrono as a dress watch. To me a dress watch is a 2 or 3 hand manual winding, understated, and discreet watch so I'd avoid the chrono for that purpose -don't get me wrong, I love chronos, but very rarely wear them as a dress watch.  Ultimately, it is a tough choice and I would recommend looking at the options over and over again - its a significant purchase that needs to be weighed properly and well-thought through. I think you are asking some of the right questions, and I'd recommend you ask them on the patek forums as well (to balance out the bias ;)). But remember that the watch as investment question is not ideal since preferences change, and who knows, ten years from now the market dynamics might be significantly different... At the end of the day, the way I see it is that you are not only buying a timepiece, but also joining a community and in either case, it is not a bad place to be ;) - but my preference is clearly VC. Good luck, and do let us know how things are coming along. Hopefully you will share with us a pic of your final decision -whatever it may be! Best, Walid
Alexe welcome to the Lounge some partial comments
04/30/2012 - 11:11
as others have answered the PP and pricing issues I would go for a VC (Traditionnelle or Contemporaine)  over a Calatrava just because I find the VCs more modern and find VC's movement finish supperior to PP's (at least in term of entry level). Are you asking about the Patrimony time only or the chronograph vs the Historiques Chrono? If its the chrono then you'll be way above budget even second hand. Let us know what you choose
on a side note the Patrimony Contemporaine is worn by no other than
04/30/2012 - 14:10
watch designs enfant terrible Eric Giroud (the designer behind such alternative designs as the Horological and Legacy Machines from MB&F, Harry Winston's Opus 9 or Rebellion's T41.  Interesting to see that a watch designer actually prefered the VC design over the others!
And let's not forget .....
04/30/2012 - 20:43
Any number of VC employees, such as Heritage and Brand Equity Director Julien Marchenoir and Communication Director Sebastien Knop. And then there is that moderator at who has a nice Patrimony Contemporaine... :-) Bill
the last guy is definitely the trend setter :-)
05/01/2012 - 10:43
Thank you so much
05/01/2012 - 00:09
Dear new friends, Thank you so much for taking all the time and write very detailed repsonses to my request. I am happy to be a part of this forum and look forward to learninhg new and excitnhg things about VERY fine watches such as VC.  Very big thanks to Dan and Walid for all this valid informaiton!  I was indeed thinking about the used market and did not plan on buying a new one (unless there is an AD that can offer a great discount). However, I am indeed attracted to the chronograph watches (I have a Dayton and a Speedmaster and love them both). I do like Patrimony Chrono slightly bvetter than  Historiques Chronograph but they are significantly more in price. So, I decided to try to locate a  Historiques Chronograph, a used one. WOuld you happen to know if any good AD in the US who sells used VC watches?  Indeed, I am conderned about buying online since there ar emany fakes out there. I know Rolex, Omega and Breitling so well that I would not worry but with VC or PP I am still new and learning.  Thanks again very much for wuch a wamr welcome to this forum Dan, Walid, Alex G and Bill!
Re: Buying first VC. Advice needed
05/01/2012 - 10:41
My 2 cents... I find the VC Patrimony Contemporaine and Traditionelle simply amazing.  For the Contemporaine, the boutique version with black dial is an awesome watch to have. My only issue with the manual mind version is that there is no saphire caseback. The contemporaine with the grey or platinum dial also has a certain zen quality to it. I own a Traditionelle manual wind, and I love it. It is modern as Alex says, and timeless at the same time. You can appreciate the beautiful movement on the back as well.  I find that it goes much better with a suit or full sleeve shirt than as a casual watch. Even then, it does not disappoint.  Thr two tone dial is nice. Check out the photos of this posted by Alex in the photo context topic - mine posted by Alex. Another beautiful watch to have is the Historiques 1955. Ultra-thin with a movemement made out of gold. But very rare and expensive.
Re: Buying first VC. Advice needed
05/06/2012 - 16:25
>> Is VC just as good as a Patek? At first, yes, it is a well-known brand, as Patek or Rolex. No problem there. And at second, when I made a decision, I did not care so much about "is it as good as patek or not". I just seen one VC watch in yellow gold, and felt that it fits my self-feeling. The design, the logo, the name of the brand. I deceided that it fits ME and my internal feeling of myself and my personality. The world is my and rules are also my, so only I will deceide what is enough good.