The compared value of Vacheron&Constantin !

I think we all dislike talking price issues here, but in connection to the past auction at Antiquorum,

which had some nice pieces, to be honest all wasn't especially impressing, I want to make a little post.

Just some thoughts.

Perhaps it's the feud between Patrizzi and the gang that appaerently is ruling,

but something is different with the firm.

For the first time since 2004, I didn't receive a catalogue, and I have spent quite a lot of money there.

Well, everything is relative, but to me it is The compared value of Vacheron&Constantin !

Anyhow, you can see a trend over 2007, of rising auctionprices for VC at all auctionhouses,

even in Germany, which over years have been very cool regarding VC.

Also the dealers of vintage VC's have raised their prices, I estimate with about 30%, over the last two years.

This is very positive signs, because mainly, I at last see, that the watchmaking from this,

the finest firm of them all, is starting to be confirmed and appreciated The compared value of Vacheron&Constantin !

I also enoy that the marketing of VC has taken great steps forward, compared with just a few years ago.

And without marketing there will never be a market.

Both traditional marketing and the "hidden", type PP, Panerai etc etc, marketing at auctions, are valuable.

I have an old catalogue from Antiquorum, I have a lot old catalogues to be honest, but in this you can see:

The compared value of Vacheron&Constantin !

The compared value of Vacheron&Constantin !

This "kit" was not sold, even though the low estimate was 8000$ !! The compared value of Vacheron&Constantin !

Guess what each piece would cost today, after Richemont "created" Panerai ?

Panerai was nothing, had only made some 200 watches, with different bought movements,

Rolex for instance, when Mr Cologni decided to create a new Brand.

And the rest is history !

Cologni is also the man who really get Cartier going, he is also synonymous with all Richemont watch Brands,

including our dear VC !

I chosen PP, as an old respectable Brand, creating the highest watchmaking, and a newborned Brand,

that through it's unexpected success, to large extent by it's devoted aficionados, in a short time,

even has manged to create "inhouse" movements The compared value of Vacheron&Constantin !

Those two Brands represent history and watchmaking that are lightyears from each other,

but have one thing in common - solid marketing !


Agree and disagree....
03/19/2008 - 17:21

Hi Doc, Good analysis with which I agree and disagree! Regarding Panerai, it’s a brand I’m not particularly interested in but which I respect greatly (BTW my PAM 2A is the oldest watch in my collection - bought it in 1998). I won’t say that they are a marketing brand because they actually created a niche in which many are jumping in today: 10 years ago a 44mm watch was absolutely humungous and today it is almost the norm. Panerai created a market and stuck to it, they never followed trends and have been consistent in design, product and marketing and in this I compare them to Rolex who are king of the hill. You can put all the marketing gurus you want in a project but if the brand doesn’t bring something new or something which is in line with the market’s expectations you will either completely fail or only last a year or two (and there are more brands in this category than Panerai’s) So basically Panerai may be a lot of marketing but they also make a great watch! The trouble with Vacheron Constantin was what François Constantin had written to Jacques Bartelemy Vacheron, where he more or less stated that a well made watch sold by itself. This was certainly true in the 19th century but for me in the years 1980-2000 VC kind of missed the big change in the horological world. I never would have thought I would say this but the brand definitely did not have enough marketing. Marketing isn’t always the evil power which finds ways to sell products but is also a means to be open to the public’s desires and expectations. VC management at the time probably thought that their clients were only aging European aristocrats and their production was in vast majority “dusty” to say the least (of course there were some exceptions such as the gorgeous but unaffordable minute repeaters and tourbillons, the Mercator or Chrono Historique etc…). Had they listened to the market we probably would not have needed to wait until 2007 to see, what is for me, Vacheron Cosntantin’s best collections ever. Up until the 80s there were only 3 major high end brands: VC, AP and PP and today Patek vintage pieces are hitting sky high prices and buyers become fewer and fewer at this price point so yes today collectors are finally opening their eyes to Vacheron Constantin’s vintage pieces which in my biased opinion are more desirable than their PP counterparts. But its not only the vintage pieces, the prices of modern watches are also going up: an example being a Tour de l’Ile originally bought at CHF 1.8 million privately changed hands a few months ago at CHF 2.65 million!! Is this a good or bad thing? My ego says it’s a good thing because I was interested in VC when it was still under the radar but my wallet doesn’t seem to share the same opinion

I'm glad that we do not agree!
03/19/2008 - 18:52

I know that your heart beats a little extra for Panerai, and I haven't anything against it,

on the other hand I, Doc, can't see anything special in it either. But that's taste

I still think it's a created brand that in a short time has been established,

by marketing and enthusiasts, but you can't and never will be able to compare

those to brands, VC and Panerai.

Here is another side at the same auction catalogue,

As you can see no one was sold !

Same question, what would they have been paid today?

In the same catalogue are several VC's sold to their estimates, or not sold,

or even under estimates, same as usual.

The point is that this was only 13 years ago !

VC had than been going for 240 years, continiously.

As you say Alex, the marketing was next to zero at that time,

until the new goverment entered the the Old Firm!

But under the same umbrella, Richemont, during these years a fantastic launching was created for,

Panerai, Lange, JLC, Cartier,IWC and even Mont Blanc, which I have a pen from  ,

but still very little, compared for VC !


03/19/2008 - 20:36

I think it's impossible to campare 2 maisons as VC e Panerai. VC is a historical watchmaker, has over 250 years, has producted some of the best watches ever created. Emotion that a Vacheron gives you is tied by his very long history and by movements' quality.

Panerai is another thing, or better, another world! Speacking as Italian man, is a piece of your history. I have had a lot of Panerai, and they give sensations that other watches are not abble to give! Not tied by movement (even if now, with manufacture, Panerai has a very good movements), bay given by the force of history, of Italian heroes.

You can read a lot of page about X MAS (for example this is wirtten by a friends

@ DOC: It's sad to tell, but people don't know where's real quality! But this's a question of orological culture and market.

Re: Panerai
03/19/2008 - 20:58

I forgot to say that I agree with DOC when he says that price of Vacheron it too low compared with other "less" maisons!

I also agree and disagree with both of you!
03/24/2008 - 00:18

Doc, I share your hatred of "branding" which to me is synonymous with brainwashing and false information. I know I am exagerating a bit, but still.... I have never been interested in Panerai, but I do know they have a history, and that is what the new branding used to create this new image and make it look cool. To their credit I would say that Panerai did stick to their designs which were very original (therefore I also agree with Alex).

It is my understanding though that Richemont does not force brand images to their companies as much as other big bgroups do. (spoken to Julien on this actually). This means they will probabyl not "create" something out of nothing, but will instead develop greatly the real strengths of the brand. The fact that some people now care about the Italian navy history is shocking to me... (Come on, who ever cared about the Italian navy?).

To put it simply: does Panerai now get the recognition it deserves? No, in my opinion it actually gets WAY too much recognition....

Bad branding can be disastrous if it does not use the brand's real strengths. Examples include Longines....

I don't know much (anything?) about the vintage market but I can
03/19/2008 - 18:01

understand VC's attraction in todays buyant watch market. There is not a single day without a new brand showing up with a funky case and and weird indications and a six figure price tag or a new mega complicated watch or someone or somebody having invented yet another useless device or function.

The collector let alone the newbie doesn't have the slightest idea where to look. There is too much marketing, too much communications and not enough watchmaking!

Reminds me of these restaurants in touristic areas where every meter someguy is waiting by the door trying to get you to eat in his restaurant!

Of course as you state "without marketing there will never be a market" but just too much of it can give one indigestion.

VC seems like a haven of tranquility where you know what you're getting, it may be expensive but you know the reason for it and I guess that's why the brand is now firmly set in the collectors'/enthusiats' minds.

Space Ace, you touch a point,
03/19/2008 - 19:04

why I became a Vacheron&Constantin aficionado !

It was just because I knew nothing about them, really, and started reading,

learning and buying, yeah, that's how it is, we are all newbies from the start

But since I have been interested in this particular and unique watchmaker,

I also noticed all that I written above, during these many years.

And what you say about the restaurants is very close, and that's the problem,

the resturant with only a little brass plate, is being missed by 95 %,

except the few who already knows that the best food are there.

But how long can it survive, in the competition with the neon lighted neighbours?

That's why nobody can stand beside the marketing, if you want new customers,

and that we do, don't we


there is a big difference between a purely marketing brand and one
03/19/2008 - 18:30

which uses it intelligently.

I think that we can more or less agree that markeing is necessary in today's market. Some brands are based only on marketing with no real substance these brands will dry up and die and down the line their resale value is more or less zero.

Then you have brands which have excellent products and an intelligent marketing to back them up: Panerai, Richard Mille and PP.

However marketing can be a double edged sword look at AP which is associated only with the Royal Oak, the brand's marketing being exclusively on this model AP has become dependant on it. Another example is Blancpain, a few years ago they were almost considered to be up among VC and PP  but little by little when every one understood the way they had falsley created a history then their marketing strategy hit them like a boomerang.

I think that VC's marketing is quite subtle and they have probably decided to do things differently communicating on their defense of traditional Genevan arts and crafts but also having two feet firlmy in the 21st century with the Hour Lounge.

Hi Chronometer,
03/19/2008 - 19:19

I'm 100% with you, that the VC advertising today are very charming, intelligent and catching,

but as the mature man I am, I'm still left in the old times....

What my little teasing post is about, is that VC has lost time,

and is now forced to catch up!

I sometimes just wonder why the BIG company Richemont, with all it's brands,

1755 Vacheron Constantin Geneva 1814 Purdey London 1830 Baume & Mercier Geneva 1833 Jaeger-LeCoultre Le Sentier 1845 Lange & Söhne Glashütte 1847 Cartier Paris 1860 Officine Panerai Florence 1868 IWC Schaffhausen 1874 Piaget Geneva 1876 Lancel Paris 1893 Alfred Dunhill London 1906 Van Cleef & Arpels Paris 1906 Montblanc Hamburg 1912 Montegrappa Bassano del Grappa 1952 Chloé Paris 1994 Shanghai Tang Hong Kong

spent so relatively little in marketing it's oldest and most exclusive brand. I think it deserves to be discovered by many more


In this specific example I don't think Richemont has to be blamed my
03/19/2008 - 19:29

understanding is, after speaking with different execs of brands within the Richemont group, that the holding company more or less leaves them alone in terms of product, marketing, development, communications etc...strategies. As a holding company Richemont (like more or less any other holding company) looks at the bottom line and sales the day to day business is in the hands of the brand CEOs.

If some brands within the Richemont grpup seem to have had a big push I think it is more due to their management, maybe VC's past management could not see the advantages of modern day marketing and kept a low profile. Maybe they considered a VC to be the type of watch which sold by itself?

Today, the new management has a different approach which I personnaly find more interesting, not only in terms of marketing but also and mainly in terms of product development.

I wasn't as specific as you are!
03/19/2008 - 20:21

But above I have written:

I also enjoy that the marketing of VC has taken great steps forward, compared with just a few years ago.

In that sentence I put what you say, "due to their management",

so we have no different opinions there. Let me be very clear at that point.

I think as I say todays advertisment and marketing is appealing to me !

What I'm talking about is the lost years.

Who to blame, I can't say, I can only notice that, in my eyes,

there have been quite a long time which have been lost, until the last few years.

During that time, other companies in the same concern has managed better.


some rambling thoughts
03/19/2008 - 20:44


I agree that marketing is an important aspect but as you also mentioned without the products to back it up it will still not be sucessful.

Vacheron is making a comeback against Patek. It has caught the attention of many collectors, beginning with (marketing) the 250th anniversary auction and creating the anniversary models to back it up. While the auction was a sucess it did not seem to have an immediate impact on drawing the collectors/watch lovers to the brand. I can only speak for myself, but the new models such as the Jubile got me curious and then the new chronometere Royal drew me in further....this in my eyes solidifies the point about marketing and products.

In regards to the vintage, Patek has cultivated this market with the ease of documenting any vintage watch made by them for 100Chf and usually takes 2-3 weeks, thus legitimizing that the case/movement and at times the dial are what they were when originally shipped from the factory. Though Vacheron does have a similar service it is not close to being as customer friendly as Pateks and is much more expensive.

Patek also purchased many important vintage watches for their musuem and in a manner created a market for themselves. To my knowledge I do not believe Vacheron has done this at least not to the extent Patek has, is this correct Alex? While Pateks complicated timepieces has gone through the ceiling I am still in dis-belief that the vacheron triple date moonphase watch has not taken off. They have the look/style/complication, is it because the association at the time with JLC and that somehow diminished the image? Wish I knew. Patek had an advantage that they had perpetual and chrono/perpetuals that created a lot of interest while this was missing in the vintage vacheron line.

I have been heavily involved with vintage and highly complicated Pateks for many years and lately found I was not getting the enjoyment out of it as I had in the past. Perhaps it was Patek bringing out some great watches at Basel and then not seeing any available for a year and then pay over list to get one, or it was that many discussions were focussed on value and has created a speculators athmosphere. Just no joy in mudville

Upon re-discovering Vacheron it has been just the opposite. There's an excitement of where the company is heading, the management team puts a great effort to communicate to the collectors/watch lovers & they deliver what they show at SIHH.

It appears to me Vacheron has been putting on more shows/dinners for their clients and now that they have the products to support them, hopefully we will be seeing more in the future. I commend the vacheron management team for what they have accomplished in such a short time and look forward to this years SIHH. If they continue creating interesting products such as the Platine Excellence, Malte chrono, Toledo, Royal, cloisonne dials, just to mention just a few that catch the imagination of the collectors out there then I see Vacheron standing side by side with Patek as equals.  

I prefer that Vacheron is more of a product driven company with marketing as an equal vs a dominant marketing driven company.

Re: The compared value of Vacheron&Constantin !
03/19/2008 - 23:14

Doc please give it a break! I feel the passion an ocean away.

You, alone, are going to drive the prices up. Let sleeping dogs lie.

That's OK if you're going to liquidate your collection.

But consider the rest of of that just started on the Vintage trail.

You'll better understand when I show you my surprise.

As always, my personal best, Miki

Apple (VC) vs Pineapple (Panerai)
03/20/2008 - 01:47

Hi Doc,

I understand your comment on VC and Panerai but one is apple and the other one is pineapple.  Both are delicious in their own taste.

I will give you another anology to compare this two brands.

1.  VC has longest history and is a awakening dragon just like China

2.  Panerai has much shorter history but manage to strive to their success in a short period of time just like Singapore

In fact, VC has reached a higher level that Panerai is still peeping through the hole.  I know, Panerai has a few vintage  models that have been doing very well in auction.  But that is not a good yardstick to measure a success of a Brand.  A lot of vintage VCs  are still at the affordable price point.  And we should be glad about it.  I believe within a short period of time, they will be as expensive as PP.

So, don't worry about VC, we should be worry about our own pocket especially mine which is not deep enough to catch up with the increase of price.

I love and hate VC at the same time.



Nice respons from you, but in some way
03/20/2008 - 14:31

most of you have in some way misunderstood me

It was never any comparision between Panerai and Vacheron&Constantin,

or PP or whatever.

Anyway you know what my heart beats for

This was a way to say, that during the last years, thanks to the new management of V&C,

we have seen a new and elegant, attractive advertising and marketing, 

and I definitely have a feeling that they really loves what they are doing

What I did, was to put it in retrospect to what have (not) been for too many years!

That's my whole point



Doc...Sorry for the mis-interpretation.
03/20/2008 - 19:15

I agree with you 1000 percent on the direction/management/products & marketing that vacheron has in place. This is a good thing for Vacheron and all watch lovers.