A First Ascent

Groan, not another tall tale of mountains.  Indeed not!  This "first ascent" applies to the realm of horlogerie angel.  In this case, my first Verger Frères V&C timepiece.

The history of this remarkable partnership has been well documented in THL and may be accessed using the Search function.  Also the Antiquorum Quarter Millennium catalog  provides an excellent reference as does an online article by esteemed VF expert Kathryn Bonanno Patrizzi.  Simply put, the house of Verger Frères added flash and pizzaz to V&C that vaulted the brand into the forefront of design during the 1920s and 30s, and was only forced to a close with the JLC merger in 1938.

While chiefly remembered for their Art Deco stylings, VF watches and jewellery also reflected the influences of Modernism, Egyptian Revival, Chinoiserie, and Art Nouveau.  Furthermore, they were not just vassals of V&C as their products can be found under the labels of many other famous brands including Gubelin, Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and so on.

This new-to-me timepiece is also another first, being of platinum.  Others here have expressed their admiration for the heft and warmth of this precious metal.  As far as is known, it first appeared in the watch world in 1822 with Breguet and was valued for its hardness and resistance to tarnishing (something even gold will do eventually).

When you combine the mechanical wizardry of Vacheron & Constantin with the artistic wizardry of Verger Frères, the result was many highly original designs including the famous “Bras en l’air” and “Montres à volet”.  Even a simple timepiece such as this 1922 example reflects the magical DNA.  Please enjoy a few pictures...

A First Ascent

This satine-polished platinum, three-body case features polished bezels and bow, and measures a trim 40mm.  The unique Verger Frères punch mark and 4-digit case number verify its patrimony.

A First Ascent
Verger Frères favored the extra-flat RA 16’’’ 162 calibre with 18 jewels, rhodium-plating, straight-line lever escapement, cut bimetallic compensation balance with eight adjustments, blued steel flat balance spring and simple index regulator.

A First Ascent
The dial features an early use of galvanized silver plating with transferred “cubiste” numerals.   In contrast, the Vacheron & Constantin Geneve signature is applied "en reserve".  The blued steel Breguet hands really pop against the cool background.

A First Ascent

There is a before and an after Verger Frères in terms of design at
09/14/2012 - 21:40
VC. It is said that thanks to this fruitful partnership VC designs have always had a Parisian flair to them. À great addition to your collection Dean:-)
Metiers d'Art
09/15/2012 - 04:28
Is there merit in the suggestion that the Metiers d'Art program is a modern incarnation of the VF partnership?
The case, the dial, the movement, all are in amazing condition.
09/15/2012 - 21:24
Another great find!
Well, to be honest
09/16/2012 - 04:30
I didn't post a photo of the back because it shows more wear than I'd normally tolerate.  Since it was otherwise such a nice piece, I will send it off for minor restoration.
Thanks Dean for the article.
09/15/2012 - 22:48
It’s a beautiful watch and I agree with you that the blue hands make a great contrast and the crown is just gorgeous. I have seen four versions of that particular watch, three of them being 40mm and one that is 43mm; each one being unique because of small changes regarding the hands, the crown and the dial. I find the watch interesting because it is in many ways a quite understated VF piece. Would you agree with me that it was probably produced either in 1925 or 1926?  Do you already own a platinum chain or will you be carrying it with a white gold or yellow gold chain? Congratulations to you on your new find! PS. I have one of the four…
Kent, please share pictures
09/16/2012 - 04:27
I'm dying to see your version.  Antiquorum has others with very similar case and bow designs: The one on the left is from the 1940s while the one on the right is dated 1926!  You can see a certain consistency of design and, with platinum, simplicity seems to be the rule. VF dials are tricky IMHO as they vary tremendously in the small details which makes spotting the redials difficult, while factory V&C dials are much more reliable in their format.
Please check your e-mail, Dean.
09/16/2012 - 13:07
The mail was sent together with this post. Yours sincerely Kent
a stunning find! enjoy it in best of healtj
09/17/2012 - 15:44