My wife and I just returned from a long weekend in the mountains. While we enjoyed mountain biking the superb trails near Banff (except for the bear that blocked our path once...but that's an other story), I'd like to share some quotations from The Saga Of Vacheron Constantin found in the 1994 Antiquorum catalog The Art Of Vacheron Constantin, which I was delighted to read during my spare time.
It seems that the partners Vacheron and Constantin formed a very effective team; the travelling ambassador and salesman Francois Constantin was constantly providing feedback to the production managers Vacheron on what was in demand and what the customer's issues and problems were. Constantin was always cautioninig Vacheron to keep quality standards high and to always improve upon two specific matters - the sound of the repeating gongs (seems to have been assembly and metalurgical problems) and to avoid having watches returned for repairs or, if they must be returned, to have them made right and restored to the owners as soon as possible.
Admittedly, I only read what the Antiquorum editors selected from decades of correspondence, but there were several quotes that, for me, captured the ethic of Vacheron and Constantin:
(Constantin from Turin, July 1819) Our horology is very much esteemed here. By continuing to do better if we can, which is always possible, we shall make ourselves masters of the purchasers, you know that is my chimera, try to get it realised.
(Constantin from Turin, February 1821, regarding competition from another watchmaker) It is not on me that you should count, but on yourselves. It is the goods that speak, the traveller has almost to be silent.
(Again from Turin in July of 1821, Constantin writes) Let us keep our lines as they are but let us concentrate on their reliability, for these splendid watchmakers have no taste for a fine watch that stops; they prefer an ordinary one which does not stop.
Perhaps my favorite was a response by Cesar Vacheron to a letter received in 1850 addressed to "Vacheron Freres":
There is no maker of horology by the name of Vacheron Freres. There are many watches with this name, but they are imitations of secondary quality. There are a great many people who, not wishing to give themselves the trouble of making a name, find it useful to use that of another.
So are we, members of the Hour Lounge, the modern incarnation of Francois Constantin? Do we provide commentary and feedback to the corporate Vacheron entity, urging them to always improve and exceed expectations? Are the issues the same today and then, if not specifically at least in generalities?