How important is brand history to you?

Until 2 years ago 1755 or 250 were just numbers to me.

And then came 2005 with Vacheron Constantin’s new add campaign depicting specific events or monuments and putting them in perspective with the foundation of the Vacheron Constantin brand (ex the first railway in the UK was launched in 1825 when the brand was 70 years old or in 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was built the brand was 134 years old).

How important is brand history to you?

How important is brand history to you?

How important is brand history to you?



When talk of the Quarter Millennium celebrations got out, that really started me thinking. 250 years is a hell of a long time! I mean these guys were definitely doing something right to still be around and to still be considered as one of the top watchmakers after all these years!

The long history of Vacheron Constantin has totally changed my perception of the brand. I am no longer only focused on the products but have a more global view which attracts me even more.

In an era where history can be bought and businessmen rival in ingenuity finding unknown watchmaker names (the oldest possible) and inventing a whole story behind it, its comforting dealing with the real McCoy and not some phoney wannabe.

When you buy an object which comes at a price (like VC watches) you buy an accumulation of historical elements which create value. And buying a Vacheron Constantin wrist watch involves, to a certain degree, an emotional parameter linked to the object’s past which in a manner comforts us in our acquisition by giving it certain credibility.

For me today brand history has become really important, its not the only criteria but I like the fact that my favourite brand has been around for over a quarter of a millennium and has gone through so many historical events; each time adapting to its epoch, grasping for survival in tough times and bathing in the limelight in more happy ones and still being present 252 years after its creation, still considered one of the best and most prestigious brands in the world with the ability to still innovate and surprise!

How important is brand history to you?


A brief overview of Vacheron Constantin’s history


It was in 1755 (note to Sofia Coppola fans: year of birth of Queen Marie-Antoinette) that 24 year Jean-Marc Vacheron borrowed 1000 silver pounds to install his ateliers in Geneva.

At the time Vacheron was one of 800 “cabinotiers” living off horological crafts. At the very beginning the elegance and quality of his timepieces attracted the attention of the Italian aristocracy.

The French revolution of 1789, the closing of commercial routes and famine had little effect on the 3 Vacherons: Jean-Marc and his two sons: Louis-André and Abraham.

On April 1st 1819 Jacques Bartelemy Vacheron (Abraham’s son) took a decision which would change the brand’s destiny by partnering with François Constantin. The partnership took the company to a whole new level, Vacheron concentrated on his watchmaking talents whereas Constantin tirelessly travelled across Europe on horseback (occasionally crossing swords with brigands and thieves and even duelling!) to show the treasures made by Vacheron to a new clientele.

Business was good and in 1839 the company made a new decisive step by hiring a mechanical genius in the name of Geaorges-Henir Leschot. The latter invented machines capable of producing standard and interchangeable movement components…in a way he created modern horology as we know it today.

In 1880 the Maltese cross symbol was adopted as brand emblem, this cross has nothing to do with the Order of the Malte Knights but rather takes its form from a gear that prevents over winding of the mainspring used in precision timekeepers at the time.

Fast forward to the 20th century where in 1911 Vacheron Cosntantin created its first lady’s wristwatch followed by two years later by its first gentleman’s wrist watch. In 1934 it completed one of its most complicated watches featuring a minute repeater, split seconds chronograph, perpetual calendar, moonphase and alarm was made for King Fouad of Egypt was sold at auction by Antiquorum in 2005 for over 3 million Swiss francs!. In 1955 to celebrate its bi-centenary the brand presented the slimmest manual movement (1.64mm) followed by the slimmest automatic movement (2.45mm).

In 1938 the watch was bought by the Ketterer family the then owner of Jaeger LeCoultre, almost 50 years later the brand changed hands and entered those of Sheik Yamani (former head of OPEC).

In 1996 the brand is bought by the Richemont group, in 2002 they present their first 100% manufacture calibre: cal 1400 followed by the inhouse calibre 2450 in 2006.

A quick look at the 250th anniversary where the (then) most complicated wristwatch with 16 complications was presented and sold by Antiquorum for a record breaking 1.87 million Swiss francs making the Tour de l’Ile the most expensive modern wristwatch ever!

In 2007 Vacheron Constantin launches 2 new automatic calibers 2460 and 2455 as well as Cal 2755 its most complicated (non limited edition) wrist watch with Perpetual calendar, tourbillon and minute repeater

How important is brand history to you?

Fantastic post Alex!
06/22/2007 - 19:30

Agree with you about the importance of brand history but I do think that brand history sometimes gets a bit exaggerated. How much of the swiss watch production today is a product of the history in terms of exact locations, machines etc? We can not forget that brands are seeking this soft spot for history in our hearts to sell us more watches.

But...

...If its one brand that I think truely deserves to bring up their long history it got to be Vacheron Constantin. No one can say that it have been a easy journey for VC over the years but despite that the production have never stoped. For me this is the most exciting part of VCs history...the pride that comes from over 250 years of both joy and "blood sweat and tears" is no brand-image you can buy for money. I have seen articles about "The fallen Angel" etc and that just makes me more excited over VC. Just like a human life the times are sometimes good and sometimes bad. If you have enough passion for life you will ride out of the storm...stronger then ever. I think this storm is over for now and its time for VC to get rewarded for their hard and passionated work.

Some brands, founded in early years, was out of buisness through some tough years in the 70-80's and therefor could build a stable ground when they resurrected. Its nothing wrong with that but they can never compite with the pride of Vacheron Constantin. period.

/Rgds

/lloyd

I may add...
06/22/2007 - 19:47

...That I never doubted VCs knowledge of manufacture timepieces. The "dark times" was more a result of lack of long term management and ownership issues.

/lloyd

Re: How important is brand history to you?
06/23/2007 - 01:34

Thank you, Alex. I think I am one of many VC fans who are so fond of reading the new set of VC Ads that is trying to brief the brand timeline linked with the world timeline. I love it all....uninterrupted history. I believe the the brand history is, to a large extent, important to all of us here...that's why we stick with this 252-yr-old uninterrupted watchmaker!

It is still very true as always...."a debt we acknowledge with pride"

Regards,

Joe

A long time indeed...
06/23/2007 - 04:32
What amazes me is that with all of the adaptations the firm has had to make to survive all these years, there exists a "DNA" in the watches that makes them identifiable as VC's. Bill
u got me thinking ......
06/23/2007 - 08:00

indeed a feat to be 250 years uninterrupted, and the legacy continues after the celebration. alex, u got me thinking, that i have been myopic focusing on products only. this explains the phenomenon that when i buy a new watch i really liked, the novelty wears off rather quickly, no matter what draws me initially, it sits in my watch box. but with certain pieces, the passion flares and u know that u have bought one that speaks to u, one of them is the VC les historique chrono and the 1755 jubile. brand matters, no matter how objective i try to be. i want to know i am buying more than an object thet tells time, because of the premium paid, an object that has a place in history with a record of 250 years uninterrupted, that matters. i confess to be a VC fan, like many here and maybe biased, but whatever.

i really like the lineup of adverts which u posted, a very tasteful campaign. i have seen the advertisements, but been oblivious of its background. with your presentation, the background suddenly stood out, and the slogan more apparent. as always, i enjoyed your insight and post.

thank u.

History can be a burden! Its not as much your history that counts than
06/23/2007 - 11:20

what you do with it.

What VC has achieved is extraordinary because getting to the top is already a difficult task but staying on top for the past 252 years is exceptional!!

Nevertheless the problem with such a long history is a lack of freedom as the brand should stay within a certain "DNA" as not to confuse collectors and staying within such DNA should not lead to immobility and "dusty" designs (which I'm afraid the brand seemed to have fallen iton  in the late 90s) however it seems that the 250th anniversary celebrations has boosted the brand and the arrival of Mr. Torres is giving a new more audacious direction as the 2007 novelties seem to show.

Re: How important is brand history to you?
06/23/2007 - 17:48

The history is very important for me because the past builds experience, achievements, effigy of the brand. 250 years of the existence Vacheron Constantin were not wasted.  Today we can admire beautiful complicated timepieces...

King Fuad I of Egypt pocket watch (1929)...

...and his son's watch (King Farouk of Egypt), 1934

The H. Graves Vacheron Constantin, 1932

Tourbillon VC. This watch was awarded First Prize in the 1948 Neuchatel Observatory timing contest. Score: 922 points (-0,47 sec). Adjusted by master Urbain Brahier from Technical School in Le Sentier.

ahhh the 10 complications Graves watch! When Henry Graves commissioned
06/23/2007 - 18:38

this watch he wanted it to be submitted to Observatory trials with the chronograph running (which normally adversy affects accuracy).

In 1934 this watch was submitted to the Geneva Observatory where it won 1st prize!!

It is also VC's only Grande Complication pocket watch with a tourbillon

Brand history
06/24/2007 - 13:06

It is an important aspect but not my main criteria in choosing a watch

With VC, 250 years of uninterrupted production, that to me is impressive no manufacture can even equal that

The rich history of VC is truly captivating

TL

Re: How important is brand history to you?
06/25/2007 - 17:35

Brand history is incredibly important, especially in todays day and age of mass produced goods that are largely disposeable (whether its clothing, a computer,  a car, or even watches that may be the in thing today and traded tomorrow).  Years ago people fixed things.  Now we have become a society that often throws away our old goods and simply buy new goods.  What does that say of the quality or worth of some of these items?

With a brand like VC, there is quality built into every product they make.  These are not disposeable goods, there is beauty, creativity, progress, and tradition built into every VC.  Each new product although innovative and a step forward in technology is still linked with VC's past.   While my VC's are not even 5 years old, I see them as watches that will endure for many years to come.  Maybe some day when I'm no longer here, their faces will be in a new series of Ads regarding VC's age and history.  In the future they will carry on as products made by a craftsman many years ago, and they will also have traveled on certain journeys with me.   When I leave them to my heirs they will have two histories, that which comes from being a VC and that which they have developed by accompanying me over the years through the various journeys in my life.

Best regards,

Dino

You have a very "romanic" approach Dino. very interesting :-) (nt)
06/25/2007 - 18:10

nt