Identifying a watch

While going through my fathers dresser after he passed away recently, I came across a pocket watch that I had never seen before. I have attached the pictures, I hope they are clear enough. I have no idea where it came from or what connection it has to him. There are engravings on the inside cover as well as the internal cover. It reads as follows, "Quatre Trous En Rubis Enchappment" along the top and bottom. In the middle in script is written "A Cylindre Vachiron A Genive Aiguillex." Also on the inside cover is "I80 EPII006" the characters are either 1 or 7 or i, I cant really tell. Someone told me that it was a Vacheron from the mid 19th century.

Anyway, I am quite curious as to the origins of this watch, and looking forward to investigating how it came to be in his possession.

Thank you in advance for any information you may have.

Identifying a watch

Identifying a watch

Identifying a watch
11/13/2009 - 21:21
Bad Spelling = Bad Fake! (nt)
11/13/2009 - 22:20
Not to be dismissed out of hand...
11/14/2009 - 00:48
Vacheron and Geneve are spelled correctly, just difficult to see. The word "Aiguilles" which means arrows or pointers or in this case more specifically "hands" appeared commonly on the back of watched in the early 19th century. It may indicate that there are 2 hands rather than just one which was not uncommon before 1830. The phrase "quatre (4) trous (en) rubis refers to a 4 jewel movement. The word"echappement" or escapement is at the top and goes together with the "a Cylindre" meaning a cylinder type (rather than lever which was becoming more common) escapement. It was introduced by Graham and later improved by Breguet who made them out of ruby. Guilloched dials often did not have the manufacturer's name on the dial itself. Before 1820 the name Vacheron also appeared alone without Constantin or the "&" This occurred in the early part of the 19th century too before a brief partnership with Chossat which ended in 1819, followed immediately by a new partnership Vacheron & Constantin. But there are watches from about 1800 to 1820 that do contain only the one name. The hands and the engravings and dial suggest 1810-1825. It would be nice to see the movement too (hint, hint). Try taking a few of different parts of the movement so that different parts will be in focus in in the shots. The shallow depth of field in these macro-shots is a real killer! Based on the available info, I would say that it is probably a genuine watch from around 1815 or earlier. Its a real beauty too and in decent shape. But a look at the movement would be helpful. Others here have more resources than I do and are better qualified so they may also offer opinions. Regards, Joseph
Do you have pictures Joseph?
11/14/2009 - 05:54
AFAIK, there have not been any verified examples of just "Vacheron" signed pieces.  For example, this 1760's V&C is marked JM Vacheron for Jean Marc:  photo courtesty Purists 1790 sees the change to Abm. Vacheron for Abraham: You will often see "Girod" added to the second quality movements, but like Vacheron, never alone. I have yet to see a Vacheron & Chossat but understand they exist.  Ceasar Vacheron was used for a short period;, then Charles Vacheron, Veuve Vacheron and finally things settled down to our familiar Vacheron & Constantin. This piece from the 1830's closely resembles what mrhooper has shown us: While Vacheron and Constantin were constantly fighting copyists, they were not that successful.  OTOH, that does show how  admired the brand was!
Yes I do have pictures, Dean
11/14/2009 - 14:56
But I will have to give you just the references. I'm too swamped with work right now. In "The World of VC", page 202 there is one example dated 1800-1820 with "Vacheron a Geneve". There is another from 1812 signed "Vacheron Chossat & Comp." Page 201 has another in which the movement is signed "Vacheron a Geneve" In Cologni's "Secrets of VC", page 35, there is a large photo of a watch from 1805 signed "Vacheron a Geneve" I believe that from 1820 onwards, the watches had both names. From 1810-1820 they may have had just Vacheron or VacheronChossat. But there was a very short period of about 7-10 years between 1800 and 1810 where only the name Vacheron appeared. Your photo of a watch from 1830 "closely resembling" the one in question shows sophisticated engine turning in the dial and subdial. Mr. Hooper's watch shows a simple engine turning, more common in 1800 than the more complex work available 30 years later. The central engraving is a little more crude as well. As far as the case work is concerned, yes it is similar. However, such case work engraving was available even in the 18th centuy.One can find many examples in Clutton and Daniels book "Watches". Your last photo shows a watch from 1830 and there is a very similar one in "THe World of VC" on page 203. The term:"Horizontal Escapement" I believe refers to a lever type rather than a "vertical" type (ie cylinder). Cylinder escapements certainly were common at the turn of the 18-19th century and can be found in watches even mid 19th century. The more ornate script and layout is common after 1830. The simpler style with some flourishes is more common before that. As far as "Vacheron" vs "Vachiron" is concerned, I think after 200 years an "e" can look a bit like an "i" :-) I think we need to see some better pics and some of the movement. JB
Thanks for the references
11/14/2009 - 18:10
Yes, I see some examples with "Vacheron a Geneve" from 1755 and 1800; thanks for taking the time to share this info .  My impression of the dial and script design for mrhooper's piece is that it comes from a later date when "Constantin" should be expected.  Hopefully mrhooper's movement pics will shed more light on his watch.
Re: Thanks for the references
11/14/2009 - 21:44
Initially that's what I thought too. Then I checked some of my other non-VC references and saw that the case design was used earlier by others including Breguet. That was true of the dial also. Part is engine turned and part engraved. The engravings are acanthus leaves which was a common decoration in many art forms in the 18th and 19th century. The guilloche pattern was actually relatively primitive, being simple circles or spiral pattern. So I concluded that it was probably at least a generation earlier. I hope we do get to see the movement. Regards, Joseph
Vachiron or Vacheron? For a very short period the brand name was
11/14/2009 - 10:56
Vacheron à Genève but I don't have my books with me to cjheck the dates, however it seems to be that it was a period before the asthetics of this wqtch. Can you provde the case and movement numbers? If in fact it is written Vachiron then its not a VC.
Re: Vachiron or Vacheron? For a very short period the brand name was
11/14/2009 - 15:02
Hi Alex, Better pics would definitely help, But if you look at the word "Aiguilles" you can see that the second letter is in fact an "i" and even has the dot above it. In the word "Vacheron" the letter "e/i" has a little more curve to it (ie more concave shape) and has no dot above it. To me, anyway, it looks more like an "e". Regards, Joseph
Re: Better Photos
11/15/2009 - 01:19
Re: Identifying a watch
11/15/2009 - 01:27
Thank you all for the information you have provided. I have posted some better resolution pictures after giving myself a crash course on macro photography. I hope these will help with the questions that were raised. I am impressed with the knowledge you all possess. On the inside cover underneath the numbers at the top is what looks like a chevron. I was told that this is an indication that it is 18K gold. I showed the watch to a local Vacheron & Constantin dealer and although he was not familiar with it, he was going to forward the photos to the company for verification. If it turns out to be genuine, do you have any suggestions on where I should have it restored? I guess I am asking if I should send it to V&C for service or can I trust a local watch dealer?
Re: Re: Identifying a watch
11/15/2009 - 16:30
The layout of the bridges is typical for Vacheron between 1800-1830 as are the blue-headed screws. I have a few photos in some of my general references of similar watch movements but they are described as "continental" to distinguish them from British. Except for Breguet, and some English manufacturers, I don't have many references which show a lot of movements of that specific period. Even the highly decorated movement in "The World of VC" page 205 is very similar but I think that one is a lever escapement. The design of this style with the multiple bridges is based on the work of Lpine and allowed a thinner movement. Since the only markings are "A" (Avance) and "R" (Retard) I really can't say much else. Vacheron in Geneva can most likely authenticate the watch. You can contact their concierge service in the US for more help. The contact info is on their website. Best of luck, Joseph
Re: Re: Re: Identifying a watch
11/15/2009 - 19:28
The other pic I was referring to is in Cutmore's "Watches 1850-1980" which also talks about earlier watches and movements. On page 16 Plate 2 is an almost identical movement with a cylinder escsapement, unsigned, described as "continental", but almost certainly Swiss. It even has the same temperature compensation curb that is in yours (thin metal band at top). JB
Re: Re: Re: Re: Identifying a watch
11/15/2009 - 23:04
Here's the pic and the desciption. I finally had a chance to scan it in. My speculation is that around this time Vacheron decided to sell his watches more widely, less ornate and sophisticated and therefore more affordable to more people (a wise marketing move). This probably represents one of these watches. Likely the VC Museum can be more helpful. Joseph
Re: Re: Identifying a watch
11/15/2009 - 18:30
My only thoughts are that it seems unusual to have an unsigned movement in a signed case but the style and quality is certainly comparable with V&C of the period.  You could arrange an examination by a watchmaker to see if there are any serial numbers underneath the base plate that you could provide to VC along with the case number which appears to be 17006. Yours: 1830 V&C movement: Movement numbers on baseplate:
VC tell me that it was not made by the brand (nt)
11/17/2009 - 15:37
Thanks for the closure Alex
11/17/2009 - 17:40

The work of Vacheron copyists from the pre-1880's always amazes for the sheer volume and effort dedicated to Vacheron & Constantin above other brands.  Perhaps the nature of watch manufacturing at the time, mostly cottage work, allowed the enterprising piece-worker to take extra stock and knock off a few fakes to increase profits.  While Constantin often wrote about the problem, it appears he was unable to do much about it (still a problem in modern times to be sure).

Whoa, a really interesting thread...
11/18/2009 - 02:03
Joseph and Dean, you amaze me with your level of knowledge... Cheers, Francois
Re: VC tell me that it was not made by the brand (nt)
11/18/2009 - 02:27
So does that mean I simply have an old fake watch on my hands?
I don't know if its a fake or just from another watchmaker called
11/18/2009 - 10:20
Vacheron with no links to VC. Considering the elaborate dial work and the movement however made the watch did a good job!
Re: I don't know if its a fake or just from another watchmaker called
11/18/2009 - 13:55
Sometimes apprentices do these things as a project or en cache. Maybe this is such a watch. Joseph
Re: Re: I don't know if its a fake or just from another watchmaker called
11/18/2009 - 18:53
Well this is becoming an interesting detective case for me. I will continue to look for an origin, as I would really like to satisfy my curiosity. I am thankful for all the information that everyone provided me.
Re: Identifying a watch
12/07/2010 - 13:06

I believe this is an authentic Vacheron Constantin dated around 1815.A very interisting watch, an unsigned movement was not uncommon at all at the time infact i came across many watches with unsigned movements that were authenticated by the vc main office in Geneva, there should however be a serial number underneath the dial.Different trademarks were used at that time for different markets.Most of the watches bearing the name just vacheron or vacheron freres are indeed fake,however i dont believe this is the case for this one.i think this is one of the ealiest examples of vacheron cylinder movements that ive seen, could be quite expensive in the right sale with a proper identification by the VC main office.