My new VC and how I stumbled onto the brand

Hey folks – I’ve posted this to two very helpful watch forums (Hour Lounge/Timezone VC board) and it’s equally applicable to both. In the space of a few weeks I have learned so much from these forums and so, without thanking anyone in particular I’d like to acknowledge that and say thanks all round!   If anyone is interested in how a total “know nothing” came to own a brand spanking new VC Overseas Dual Time in the space of a month (and my thoughts on it and the brand at this very early stage) then read on . I don’t know anyone in my circle of friends/family who has the faintest interest in watches , so it’s nice to share this purchase with some people that “get it”.   I’ll be honest and up front – a month ago I was (and still am to a large extent) ignorant of the finer watches in the world , the craft of watchmaking and automatic watches as a whole. Like many I thought that Rolex was the pinnacle . My previous watch is a $400 Tissot but importantly in my colour/material of choice – titanium and stainless steel.......there’s one little seed planted! I have always had an idea in the back of my mind that I would own a nice watch one of these days , but there was no urgency and I’ve never seen a watch that grabbed my attention enough to justify the expense. I also like the idea of having some nice “family silver” to pass along to my young son. One day I will inherit my grandfather’s Rolex pocket watch which is also a nice piece.   I’m probably not your average VC customer – I’m mid-late 30’s and have run my own business from home since I was in my late 20’s....a very tough gig in recent times and I’m one of few left standing in my field. My work uniform is a pair of black tracksuit pants and a polo shirt or various 80’s hard rock band t-shirts LOL. When I do get out , the dressiest attire I manage is neat casual/smart dress - other than the odd black tie function where I reluctantly drag on a suit. . In recent years I have developed an interest in cars but my taste in most things is extremely narrow - I have very similar taste in cars and watches as it turns out. “Iron fist in velvet glove” is an apt description, as is “luxury sports” – understated power/quality with plenty of class but something that doesn’t attract much attention or only attracts the attention of those who know what they’re talking about. So with cars I tend to favour the brands of Jaguar (I drive an XKR) , Aston Martin and Maserati. There are very few cars outside of those 3 brands that do it for me at all , no matter how cheap or expensive. As it turns out I’m very similar with watches – luxury sports - the only brands I’ve seen that really get my interest are Vacheron Constantin and , to a lesser extent , Zenith and perhaps one or two from Bregeut/Blancpain/JLC.   It all started a month or so ago when I was browsing a financial news website and I clicked on a Rolex advert by mistake , which took me to something displaying their various lines. None of them really appealed but it did stir something up that has grown and grown to the point where I’ve done plenty of work on this in recent weeks. Research is my job so I have a knack for getting across the bare basics of a detailed subject pretty quickly. Aside from all the technical terms, including the debate over COSC Chronometer/Geneva Seal/Patek “seal” etc.. it has really been an eye opening experience learning about the enormous industry in fakes/replicas , the brands/styles of the watches themselves and the people who sell them (AD’s , grey market and con men LOL). I do have a rather large collection of memorabilia by a particular rock band and I’ve learned very quickly that advances in technology/ forgeries have ruined that area , but didn’t realise the scale of the issue in luxury watches until now. Needless to say I have done plenty of work researching the best way to buy and how to avoid the shonks. Anyhow – for some reason that I cannot put my finger on I now have “the watch bug” and with that the “VC bug”!   Once I decided I was “in the market” my first stop was a local (Australian) exotic car forum that I knew had a good thread on watches. There I learned about the modified , more sporty Rolex’s (Pro Hunter etc...).......still not to my taste... . I then got turned on to Tag Heuer Grand Carreras and quickly found that I liked the look of their watches better than anything from Rolex and was on the verge of buying a Calibre 17 but in the end I just felt there was something missing and held back. Soon I remembered that years ago I’d casually looked at a JLC Amvox 2 DBS in steel which is certainly a nice watch (I’d only heard about it via the Aston Martin brand and had no idea of the real status of JLC at that point ) and was almost about to buy there too. If a dealer hadn’t held off on me for another client the search likely would’ve ended there and I still wouldn’t know about VC.   It was only in my subsequent hunt for another deal on the Amvox that I reached the various internet sites that stock/display the real high end brands and it was without much expectation of finding anything more to my taste that I began browsing out of general interest. That was when I discovered the Vacheron Constantin brand , the Overseas in particular ,and knew I’d found the one watch that matched my taste perfectly......in comparison, the JLC Amvox now looks way too busy and nowhere near as special. The VC is the right colour , has the right lines and is just ultra stylish without being pretentious, and sporty whilst being dressy enough to pass at all but the most formal occasions (you likely won’t see me there anyway!). And as an added bonus, nobody I’m likely to meet will have a clue about Vacheron Constantin . If by chance someone did recognise the watch, it’s not something that I expect to be associated with status seekers – a reputation that the Daytona seems to have developed , rightly or wrongly. To quote the infamous Watch Snob “The Daytona, on the other hand, has become the calling card for all those in the world whose sole goal in life is to upstage." The Overseas is less likely to be stolen than a Rolex too I’d imagine LOL.   In terms of the competitors to the Overseas ....when you research these things you very quickly learn about the “Holy Trinity” of Vacheron Constantin, Patek Phillipe and Audemars Piguet and in the area of sporty watches (basically talking the Royal Oak and Nautilus) I honestly cannot see that there’s a competition. I’m not knowledgeable enough to comment on the quality/finish of movement and materials of that group but for my taste the Nautilus is seriously underwhelming to look at and the Royal Oak is too blocky and “industrial”. In terms of the companies themselves (esp VC vs PP) ..........after a month of studying the various “stuff”/media that emanates from these companies - and I could be totally wrong here – I detect an underlying sense of fun/passion/personality within VC that’s not really there with PP which seems a bit more sterile and in love with its own importance?   Reading around the forums the general consensus seems to be that Vacheron Constantin was the king 40-50 years ago and has been well and truly overtaken in terms of prestige in the WIS community (see, another term I picked up !) by Patek (PP) – at least partly due to its now established history of in house movements- and perhaps AP , but that Vacheron Constantin is still extremely well respected and prefers to remain a “boutique” operation and fly under the radar without celeb endorsements and with lower volume. I wonder if it’s unfair to call AP the Hublot of the Big 3 (high profile celebs/colours and editions galore) and PP the “rich man’s Rolex”?? I get the impression that VC is spreading its wings slowly and steadily while trying to keep itself as the connoisseur’s brand, rather than a brand/status symbol to be had regardless of the merits of the watch or something to be “flipped” at the next auction.   In the various online forum shootouts I found , it appears that more people prefer the Royal Oak vs Overseas but that a significant minority contend that not only is the VC more stylish (I agree) but that AP have diluted the prestige of the watch with the huge number of special editions and variations and perhaps even the brand itself by becoming so famous for and focused on that one watch. It seems to me that the Overseas is a brilliant entry level into Vacheron Constantin but that the Royal Oak is about all anyone talks about when it comes to AP.   So..........after all that , here’s my new watch in pictures. The Aston Martin Vanquish of sports watches smileyI’ve never photographed a watch and am using a very basic camera so it’s pretty average picture quality - in terms of the looks it is even better in the flesh. I ordered sight unseen (not much choice) and am very happy, although after working off all the brilliant magnified photos of Paul Boutros et al...... it seems a bit small at first glance smiley The amazing detail in this watch can really only be seen properly under magnification.

My new VC and how I stumbled onto the brand       By the way I was very impressed with the content on the USB stick – everything from history of the brand to details on your particular watch.   Obviously ,given my final choice, I prefer the newer Dual Time in steel/titanium with the grey/anthracite face. I think it looks great with the alligator leather strap (I’ve always had a bracelet on past watches) , but have to acknowledge the amazing bracelet on the older Overseas series. I think the black and the white guilloche dials are amazing too but for my purposes (as everyday/sporty as possible) I think the brushed grey dial is undoubtedly the right choice. I find it hard to highlight anything I really dislike about the Chrono apart from the date window split by 12 o’clock which doesn’t work for me visually . The Dual Time just does it better in my eyes and is also more practical from a daily use point of view given my occupation. I’d be lucky to use a chrono a couple of times a year , at least until my 4 yo boy starts little athletics and there is such a thing as a stopwatch I suppose LOL. I have never used an automatic watch before so the idea of a power reserve meter is also of use , at least for now.   Something else that crops up regularly as a criticism of this watch is the lack of an “in house” movement – the JLC 1222 SC caliber being the movement/ebauche in question. I imagine that when the Overseas eventually gets an in house movement that there could be a significant price rise , aside from the fact that the JLC movement/ebauche used for the Overseas has very long term miles behind it and is a proven performer. It’s not an issue for me anyway , especially in an entry level luxury brand watch and it’s not as if other brands such as AP- and historically PP- haven’t also used JLC movements. It’s also not as if JLC are an inferior developer of watch movements – their reputation is superb. My brief look at the history of VC indicates that they really had never designed and manufactured a movement from scratch until the formation of VCVJ in 2000 , so it’s clear where VC’s expertise and reputation was developed and the Overseas seems to make the most of that expertise in its category.   The history of the Overseas line is also quite interesting – its lineage via the 222 (333 and Phidias) and the little controversy over who designed that – Genta (who in interviews didn’t confirm but also didn’t deny his involvement) or Hysek. It seems that the Genta story is a myth .   Getting back to my little purchase...........I really like everything about this watch - the style and colour, the clever integration of the Maltese cross into various areas including the bezel , the movement looks nice from the pics (not visible through a clear case) , the materials are to my taste , the brushed stainless steel is gorgeous , as is the faint machined guilloche on the sub-dials and the luminous white gold hands and markers. The detail on the joins where the titanium bezel meets the case and then on to the lugs and strap is very impressive as is the detail in the crowns (one steel and one titanium screw). Unlike many (who prefer an open back , even on a sporty watch) I quite like the sailing ship on the case back and the exquisite detail in that ship appears to be one of the easier areas to determine a fake – the fakes have none of the detail of the real thing. The level of water resistance (150m) , while not likely to be useful that often , adds some cred to its sporty watch credentials. If I had to nitpick, the power reserve of around 40 hrs seems a bit on the short side to me.   I’m not sure how common the Overseas watches are worldwide but the impression I get is that there’s be lucky to be 2 or 3 “Overseas Dual Time” watches in Australia as we speak and one of them is mine. Neither of the two major AD’s (one in Sydney and one in Melbourne- there’s only 5 in the whole of Australia) I spoke to recently had one in stock and Richemont Australia said they had ONE coming into the country in a few weeks.   Once again thanks to you all for the education you have provided me in recent weeks as I furiously searched for threads on the VC Overseas. I have a book on the way (The Watch by Gene Stone) to help educate me on the ins and outs of watches in general. I’m sure the craftsmanship angle is going to draw me in deeper.. From there – who knows.... I’m not sure I’ll become a watch collector across various brands any time soon. If I was to branch out into something more dressy to wear it would still have to have a modern sporty element to it – perhaps a Zenith Striking 10th/El Primo or a Bregeut Marine, ALS Datograph. Most likely another VC though – perhaps a Quai de L’Ile Date.   I do enjoy collecting and when I do I tend to stick to a particular marque/brand/music band as the case may be and do one small area properly. So there is some chance I may accumulate some VC’s as the years progress – now that I’ve started with my perfect watch it’s the obvious brand for me and there’s no brand with more history is there? Any of the more formal watches wouldn’t get much wear with me , it’d just be for the sake of building a beautiful collection of timepieces when the VC bug bites harder. The “Secrets of Vacheron Constantin” book is on the way too to help me in building my knowledge and perhaps inspiring further interest..........that was a very hard book to get a hold of as many sellers who list it as available actually don’t have it and can’t get it and the few that do often won’t ship international.   I don’t want to get too carried away though -a fortnight ago I was second guessing my sanity re potentially spending $6-7k on a Tag and now I’ve almost tripled that for a VC in short time. Time for a deep breath and to see whether the experience is a good one before I get too hasty.     I have almost certainly made errors in this little story/review , so apologies in advance – a month ago I barely knew what a watch was , so I’m the newbiest of newbies.   If anyone has got this far I do have a few questions:   1) do the various brands such as VC, PP, AP or even Rolex publish data on their overall yearly production and then broken down into various lines like the Overseas and the various iterations of that? It’d be very interesting to know. I get the feeling that VC are much more scarce than most other high end brands ? I read in an interview with the CEO that VC produce around 17k watches all up per annum, Patek (CEO too) around 50k and Rolex perhaps about 800k –1 million.   2) when a JLC ebauche reaches VC does it have any of the decorative work (incl Cotes de Geneve) or is 100% of the decorative work/guilloche done by VC?   3) What sort of customer interaction can I expect (if any) with VC as compared with other high end brands based on your experience – do they truly value their clientele and make an effort to keep in touch and do the little things in order to keep them (make the ownership a real experience) . I wonder how that might be affected by my location in Australia. BTW we have no VC Boutiques and only 5 AD’s in the country.   The sad thing for me about high end brands sometimes – using car brands as an example- is that owning a Lexus is more of an experience in terms of customer service than owning an Aston Martin or Jaguar, when it should certainly be the other way around . Tag Heuer – the Lexus in this case - do a good job with that sort of thing and can leverage their involvement in Formula One etc.. to create some “thankyous” for their clients.   Vacheron would no doubt have different ways of doing things as it’s on another level to Tag. I realise “the experience” may not be any sort of priority for many high end buyers/VC diehards – I just think that making the customer feel that they are valued and taking the time to keep in touch/the occasional surprise etc... is really good at this end of the spectrum for creating/consolidating NEW diehards/loyal followers like me perhaps . A smooth experience with any servicing/warranty issues will also be hugely important in maintaining brand loyalty from me. Anyway – I’ll join the Hour Lounge Collector’s Club , which no doubt is an element of VC’s work to connect with customers- and see how we go. Hopefully I’ll be impressed with that and remain a VC devotee for life.   4) would I be right in saying that VC has a reputation for finishing on cases/movements that is hard to top, even amongst brands like PP and AP? I also wonder if the sailing ship on the case back has the detail hand done?   5) What does COSG on the clasp stand for??   FWIW (for any other Aussies out there) re servicing , I got in touch with the best independent watchmaker specialising in Swiss watches in our parts. He said he couldn’t service a Vacheron to the standard he’d like as he cannot access enough parts and said that he’d recommend dealing directly with Richemont Australia in Sydney rather than via an AD locally.   Don’t worry – this will be my one and only essay! I doubt I can contribute much more around here at this stage due to my very limited knowledge but will continue to read all your great posts with interest and perhaps ask the odd question from time to time.   Regards to all,   Brent  
I hope you have at least 1 KISS T-shirt :-) An amazing read and I
10/22/2012 - 16:55
do hope you stick around and participate more. don't stop just withthis post yes To answer your questions:1) do the various brands such as VC, PP, AP or even Rolex publish data on their overall yearly production and then broken down into various lines like the Overseas and the various iterations of that? Watch brands rarely (if ever) communicate on productuon. Vc is currently between 19.000-20.000 watches per annum but no breakdown ins available     2) when a JLC ebauche reaches VC does it have any of the decorative work (incl Cotes de Geneve) or is 100% of the decorative work/guilloche done by VC? The ebauch consists of brut unfinished parts which are then finished, assebeled and regulated by VC.     3) What sort of customer interaction can I expect (if any) with VC as compared with other high end brand? You have the Lounge as discussion forum and the exclusive Collectors club (which to the best of knowledge none other has)   4) would I be right in saying that VC has a reputation for finishing on cases/movements that is hard to top, even amongst brands like PP and AP? I also wonder if the sailing ship on the case back has the detail hand done? You should have a read of the article on finishing + cal 4400 which was tested by independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen which is known for his supperlative finish,  it will give you a great idea on the amout of finish the movement. The ship on the back is machine engraved only. Movement finish click here Cal 4400 click here   5) What does COSG on the clasp stand for?? I think it is from the buckle maker I'm putting your post in the Recommended Threads section. Love your enthusiasmsmiley
Re: I hope you have at least 1 KISS T-shirt :-) An amazing read and I
10/22/2012 - 17:10
Thanks Alex - I do have more than one KISS tee laugh  I love all my rock - everything from light stuff (Foreigner/Toto) through Bon Jovi, Metallica but the big one for me is Van Halen.  I'm a VH nut!! Thanks for the answers too.......your consistent updates (and older posts I tracked down) to this forum have helped greatly in planting the seeds of the enthusiasm you refer to wink
looks like we have the same tastes in music ;-)
10/22/2012 - 18:27
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One seriously, extensive, post Brent! :-)
10/22/2012 - 17:56
You have the enthusiasm and passion of a true Vacheronista! yes I'm not sure if you have one, but you can order that great bracelet for your Dual Time OS. I also tend to all be very brand loyal after I make a decision on a brand.  That usually only ends if I feel something like the brand has done something that really betrayed that loyalty. My personal experience with VC customer service has been outstanding, especially when dealing with the Brand directly.  At times the service fluctuates with individual dealers, but VC themselves have always been top notch. I've also found the community of VC owners and enthusiasts to be equally wonderful.  Like you, I've learned an unbelievable amount from them.  They have really made a initial purchase of a single watch into a major hobby and passion.  It is a disease, one that I'm very happy to be infected with! Here is something I wrote on another forum related to perceptions of VC vs. PP and Rolex (the topic was "Resale Value and Quality of VC Watches"):The markets indicate clearly enough that PP and Rolex have the best resale values.  VC's resale value, overall, is definitely lacking in this area.  Which I haven't minded at all since I primarily collect vintage pieces and this environment has been advantageous to me.  I collect VCs, and only VCs, with the intent of never selling them - I guess I'm more of a hoarder.  I've heard other VC collectors say the same thing but can't say this is the norm. In terms of actual, overall, quality: I do not believe there is a gap.  I'm sure over the 150+ years of co-existence (with PP), there have been periods where one brand was perceived to be better than the other and vice-versa.  I feel VC had some of its darker days in the very late 70s - early/mid 90s.  But that has definitely changed in the new millenium and I believe what VC is doing now doesn't take a back seat to any other Brand. Now the timing of the mechanical watch revival unfortunately coincides with the period that I refer to as not one of VC's best.  Yet this was the period whene PP has done an amazing job of marketing itself and helping create the markets that we have now.  This was also the period (or close to the period) when the concept began of an all in-house movement being better and preferred to one that comes from the Traditional Swiss watch industry practice of small, specialized, suppliers of ebauches and other components.  VC, being the traditional Maison it is, has been slower in changing their methods of operation.  But with the entire industry changing, VC now makes about 80% of its movements in-house and all movements are finished in-house.  (I just came from a tour of VC during SIHH and we were shown the Lemania chronograph movement that is used by the elite brands.  I asked and was told that VC has been bringing these in as ebauches and totally refinishing them to VC standards for the past 2-3 years.  I believe the same goes for the movements used in the Overseas collection.   The OS collection and Lemania chrono are essentially the only movements left that are not 100% in-house today).  VC expects to be all in-house within a few years. Another area that I think affects VC resale value is the lack of technical information about its watches that comes from the Brand itself.  PP and Rolex, for example, create/publish significant amounts of technical and production information about their watches.  VC has always been very quiet and subdued about providing this type of info.  At times in the past, it's been like pulling teeth for them.  Anyway, this lack of information hasn't helped VC in the secondary markets as the potential collector/buyer doesn't have the necessary information in hand to make an educated decision.  For example, one of the things I love about vintage VC is that at least up until the 50s-60s, VC never created more than 24 identical pieces of any on model.  VC would subsequently make changes to the dial/hands combination, etc.  but never mention it to the public. But in today's market, this has created an environment where many "vintage" VCs on the various markets are "Franken".  How does one, without expending so much time in individual research, separate the true/original gems from the non-originals?   It requires a VC focused WIS, and we WIS are not representative of the overall market demand.  As a data point of one, my uncle only collects PP and while he has looked at VCs in the past, he hasn't bought any because he doesn't feel he knows enough about the pieces he sees available for sale. Perceptions are often more difficult to change than reality and VC would need to make a major marketing effort (to complement what they have done in reality) in order to change the perception of the non-WIS community. Best Regards, Dan
Re: One seriously, extensive, post Brent! :-)
10/22/2012 - 18:15
Thanks Dan for your extensive reply smiley  Interesting views.
You packed a lot in there, Brent!
10/22/2012 - 22:02
Congrats on holding off til you got to VC... I have a strange feeling it won't be your last. Regards Gary
Great Essay and A Great Watch
10/23/2012 - 01:56
I have the exact same model and it is my go-to for daily wear and travel.
Congratulations and welcome!
10/23/2012 - 03:15
Wonderful essay, Brent!  I think that you will have much to add here over time... Greetings from my OS SS/Ti Chrono -- I'm less bothered than you by the date window, but do understand your point.  I've also owned the OS DT in YG on bracelet (fondly remembered as the "Bling Special") but wifely objections eventually led to its sale.  And, I'm a big fan of that base movement, as I also have the original JLC Geographique (and a few other dual time pieces as well). Completely agree with you on the OS vs. RO and Nautilus -- we may be in the minority, but those of us who prefer the OS need to stick together! All the best, GaryG
Re: My new VC and how I stumbled onto the brand
10/23/2012 - 06:37
Thanks for the replies guys.   One further question.  After a day wearing the watch I get the feeling the leather strap is going to be more comfortable than the stock rubber strap.  I'm assuming it's just a matter of removing the screws (as I did with a micro screwdriver to adjust the rubber band) and using a paper clip to remove the pins attaching the band to the lugs and then vice versa. As a newbie can you see any issue changing the band myself or would you take to a jeweller?
I routinely change the strap myself
10/24/2012 - 04:01
...as well as the optional bracelet that I bought later (I really recommend it -- that Maltese Cross bracelet is hard to beat!).  Two tips: 1. I usually put a small piece of blue painter's masking tape over the lug and then unscrew the screw through it -- helps in the event that the screwdriver slips to ensure that you don't damage the lug 2. When you remove the clasp from the strap, be sure to back that tiny screw allllllll the way out before sliding the bar to the side through the strap.  If the screw is out far enough, the bar will be easy to slide -- if it resists, you still have the screw in too far. Have fun! Best, GaryG
Re: I routinely change the strap myself
10/24/2012 - 04:26
Thanks Gary
Re:metal bracelet
10/24/2012 - 08:15
I just put the feelers out re the bracelet and we're talking $3k+........wow!  Might have to save up LOL.
Re: Re:metal bracelet
10/25/2012 - 01:38
I got in via my AD just prior to the most recent price increase, so did better than that -- but it is a few bucks!  Well worth it from my point of view, however.  That said, the rubber and croc straps should keep you occupied for a while :-) Best, GaryG
Re: My new VC and how I stumbled onto the brand
10/24/2012 - 00:55
Brent,  Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on getting the Aston Martin Vanquish of sport watches!  Secondly, thank you for writing such a detailed post, I love your enthusiasm, and reading how you got to own your first VC... I agree with you that it is a nice feeling to be walking around with such a precious item, yet go completely unnoticed to 99.999% of the population. And a VC is a lot more understated that an Aston Martincool FYI, the Recommended Threads is a bit like the Hour Lounge Hall of Fame - to make it in your first 10 posts is quite an achievement! (Alex, I sense that the Force is strong with him...) I do hope that you stick around the Lounge, it is  a great place to hang out... And the good thing is that, the more you learn about VC, and the more you will be able to appreicate their productsyes Cheers,  Francois
Re:presentation box
10/24/2012 - 06:22
Thanks for the kind welcome Francois. I have a question that I'm sure someone can answer.  The presentation box comes with the faint imprint of some handwritten text on it - obviously not in English but beyond that I can't understand it.  I'll take a wild guess and say that perhaps it's an extract (in French)  from the letter by Francois Constantin " Do better if possible and that is always possible"  ??? Cheers Brent
Your passion really shines through!
10/24/2012 - 17:37
I am truly delighted for you.  Thanks for sharing the pics as well as your joy with us!  Cheers, Jeff
Super post!
10/25/2012 - 06:58
Great post Brent!  love the LOOONNG note.  I love this complication.  This complication was in fact my first watch, the Jaeger LeCoultre Mater Geographic.  I am still captured by it. Wear in good health and enjoy! Happy Watching justindependetn
Super post!
10/25/2012 - 06:58
Great post Brent!  love the LOOONNG note.  I love this complication.  This complication was in fact my first watch, the Jaeger LeCoultre Mater Geographic.  I am still captured by it. Wear in good health and enjoy! Happy Watching justindependetn