The Heroic Period of Vacheron and Constantin

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?

very interesting, great read! I am sure that VC follows the Lounge as
06/18/2008 - 10:44

to get feedback on what a groupe of VC owners and fans think about the brand or react to certain models or events. Usually a brand never has contact with its custommers, only the retailers and I believe that HL is beneficial to both VC and us WIS.

VC definately follows the discussions here and that's why I try to
06/18/2008 - 13:16

push for criticism and debate because constructive criticism is always more helpful than praise (which is always good to hear though :-) ).

However, we should also keep in mind that we are a niche: English speaking VC owners/aficionados who express themselves on the net. So even though as Velvet says we represent the final clients I would say we represent a certain category of the clientele. But hey if you want to be heard you have to speak out  and that's what the Loungers do!

Thank's for posting the exchanges between Vacheron and Constantin. I'm trying to get my hands on many of these lettres, have them translated and post them here.

Here's an interview of J.C.Torres on what The Lounge means to VC
06/18/2008 - 13:20
Historic correspondence...
06/18/2008 - 18:00

would be wonderful to read these letters, Alex!  I look forward to enjoying your research...thank-you very much

I would think that the Lounge has VC's ears, I greatly doubt they
06/18/2008 - 15:46

created this forum just for the fun of it considering that other VC forums exist. Its a two way road where VC benefits from our feedback and we get exclusive information and great insights to the brand not to mention the excellent articles we have had until now.

Re: I would think that the Lounge has VC's ears, I greatly doubt they
06/18/2008 - 18:38

I agree!

Even if I'm amazed of some watches that VC is producing, as QdI.

Luckily VC, as well as listen us (see new cronometre royal), creates new masterpieces, inspired by its history, but new!.

I am extremely jealous of your hiking around Banff.....
06/18/2008 - 21:26

For the last 3 springs I've tried to convince my wife that a summer trip to Banff, Lake Louise & perhaps on to Jasper would be a terrific vacation (you have to book early for July or August reservations).  I've bought guide books and been totally wow-ed by the photos of the scenery.  Once again we won't make the journey this year (although we'll have a nice trip in August to Lake Tahoe).  I have decided that in 2009 I am definitely going to Banff, wife or no wife with me.

I did have a nice Canadian adventure 2 years ago to Whistler in British Columbia.  Great hiking & scenery. 


Something to look forward to Nicholas....
06/19/2008 - 01:02

Here is my friend on his way up Cascade Mountain, which overlooks Banff.

And here is the view from the summit.

my mind's made up, that's where I'm spending my next vacations!!!
06/19/2008 - 13:23


Thanks for the photos! Can't wait to go there next year. nt
06/19/2008 - 17:33