New Member, Old Watch!

Hello, My Father gave me a gift today, a watch that was given to him by my Mother when they were young, it turned out to be a much more interesting piece than I had ever imagined! I had seen the watch as a child and even handled it, but I wasn't aware that it was an antique. I am not a watch collector and I had never heard of Vacheron Constantin, but I am a curious person and I went about searching for answers to the clues on the watch, the first one being the V & C Geneva on the face, which of course led me to discover the company responsible for making it. At one point I began to wonder as to whether I was onto the right company as it didn't seem to match entirely with the history I was reading, but then when I managed to open the lid concealing the movement, I was excited to find the V & C mark flanked by a pair of Maltese Crosses! I hadn't seen the cross anywhere on the watch and that's what led me to doubt the origin. The inscription plate bears an unusual amount of evidence as to the original owner, in fact it's enough that I think I can find his descendants! It reads: "Father to John Wagner Jr. Twenty first birthday Nov 25th '93 LAFAYETTE. IND" How about that? The markings indicate that it's 14 karat gold and I believe 84467 is the model number? There is also D.&CO. marked above. The movement bears the number 291075. Can anyone help me to find more information on this watch? The watch does not run at this time, at some point I will send it to VC to have it properly serviced. It is in otherwise excellent condition with very little wear and even less tarnishing. Josh (I chose the inscribed owners name for my screen name, it seemed appropriate.)
Re: New Member, Old Watch!
03/20/2011 - 09:27
Hello! Congradulations on this find! You are a very lucky man. Vacheron & Constantin is a very prestigous brand - considered by many as 1 of the best makers of timepieces. Not sure if it is worth sending to Vacheron for service as they are very expensive. Probably better to go to an independant watchmaker and get it serviced. Only worth sending to Vacheron if it is a very rare/valuable model. Vacheron is a very sought after brand however they are certainly good value for money on the used market - Patek Philippe seems to lead the way for values.  It is not all about the money however and your piece is worht more than money as it has a "family history" to it. A few pics of this piece would be appreciated. Kind regards
welcome to the Lounge and the world of VC :-) that is a very
03/20/2011 - 10:23
special piece you have and please post scans. I will do some research with the numbers but the fact that the watch is 14k could indicate that it was cased by the retailer (D&Co?) rather than VC.
Duhme and Co.
03/20/2011 - 17:09
Most likely yours is an American-cased watch by Duhme & Co. of Cincinnati, Ohio.  They advertised in 1891 to case "fine American and Imported movements to order".  It was typical for V&C to provide movement, dial and hands as a unit for import to North America.  14k was the metal of choice for these American pieces and an unmarked dial was not unusual eitiher.  V&C records in Geneva will only confirm the movement number as being exported as they had no way of knowing what case would eventually be fitted.  A competent local watchsmith can service it adequately and save you a bundle in time and money! Now, please take this in the spirit intended...this post is useless without pictures
Photos! History!
03/20/2011 - 21:35
My goodness! Patience! lol A guy has to sleep sometime you know! ;) Here is the album I just posted of the photos I just took. I'm not a great photographer, but they didn't turn out too bad. Thank you for your research! I'm sorry to hear that it's not an entire V&C piece, but it is good to know more about it. I've found more information about the owner and his father. John Sr. was the founder and owner of a brewery in Lafayette along with other business interests in the area. John Jr. took over when his father died in 1904. I tried calling my Mother to find out where she got the watch from, I'm guessing it would be some kind of estate sale. I bet I could probably find the descendant who moved to my area...I'm going to go as far as this takes me!
Re: Photos! History!
03/20/2011 - 21:42
Re: Photos! History!
03/20/2011 - 22:29
I spoke with my Mother, she bought it for my Father in about 1970 from a friend of the family who ran an antique shop. They gave her a deal on it, fifty bucks! LOL She said at that time they were living in Florida and ran their business from there, I can't imagine that they found it there, although I suppose it's possible considering the migration of retirees. Funny that it's so close to home again. The last girl I dated lives in Lafayette and I was just looking at a map, we went for a walk and came very close to the location of where the brewery once stood!
Patience indeed...
03/21/2011 - 18:57
IMHO patience should be exercised before one decides to post a request for information without any pictures to help us out.  I see it as matter of respect if you want someone to invest their time in the research perhaps your part of the bargain is to provide the best possible information from the start?  Maybe its a generational thing...I'm too frequently ranting at friends and family who rush to email, tweet or facebook their thoughts without taking the time to organize them.  They then spend twice as much time clarifying and mollifying .  I don't mean to rag on you in particular, these requests are fairly frequent and I've often wished for a page of rules and suggestions for new posters...
Re: Patience indeed...
03/21/2011 - 22:23
So very sorry. I hadn't thought of it as such a serious venture with a strict protocol. This is my first foray into an investigation like this and I was unaware of all the necessary components. I appreciate everyone's efforts in input for my benefit. Perhaps a New Member posting would be in order.
More info...
03/22/2011 - 00:58
Your pictures are interesting and worth adding to our database... This is the first example I've seen with a simple "V&C Geneva" printed on the dial.  The English spelling of Geneve clearly indicates it was destined for the English-speaking market or it may even be an American-made dial.  BTW, the hands are mismatched; I think the Breguet hour hand is wrong. Cuvette inscriptions like this are fascinating and, as you've discovered, provide a window into other historical enquiries. The 1891 movement also displays a simple "V&C" inscription similar to the photo below of a slightly later movement.  The Patent date "May 15 - Aug 21, '88" is also unusual and I'm not sure if it refers to the swan-neck fine regulator.  If you can find a 5-digit number with Brev, Brevet or a red cross-type symbol (not Maltese cross), we can possible trace the patent.
Re: More info...
03/22/2011 - 02:35
Thank you for the observations. I've taken another look and I don't see another number or other indicators that you mentioned. Would they be found deeper within the workings of the movement? When I have it serviced, I'll ask the watchmaker to keep an eye out for other clues.
the movement dates from 1891 but there are no indications of
03/21/2011 - 16:03
who and where it was cased
Re: the movement dates from 1891 but there are no indications of
03/21/2011 - 18:54
Well thank you for the information! I'll see if there are any historians who would be able to verify the origin of the "D.&CO." marking. Sounds like it is Duhme & Company.
03/28/2011 - 23:06
I contacted the Tippecanoe County Historical Association to inquire about their records on the owner's brewery and his descendants, I received a reply that they have an extensive collection of information and that the wife of one of their board members is a descendant of Mr. Thieme, the co-owner of the brewery. She forwarded my email with the photos to the board member and a couple of days later he wrote to me. He said that his wife has passed away but that he holds a sizable collection of artifacts from the brewery and asked that if I ever want to sell the watch, to let him know. He also said that he knows a descendant of Mr. Wagner as well. I wrote back and told him that I intend to visit Lafayette (it's about 75 miles from me) and do a little research at the museum and that I would like to meet him and this descendant of Mr. Wagner. He's agreed and we're anxious to meet up! I don't know how interested I would be in selling, it is a very unique piece, I am enamored with the brand and its history as well as the provenance that this particular watch has. I told him that if he wants to decide on an offer, it might persuade me to let go of it someday, I suppose I should get an appraisal done on it. Part of me has considered that I would like to see it back in the hands of the family, as much as I like the watch myself. We'll see...
thanks for the update
03/29/2011 - 11:43