Prestige de la France – Questions

After doing a search here for information on the 1972 Prestige de la France, I learned that Doc used to own one and Radek was, at least for a time, hunting one – although not sure if the 1972 remains on your wish list, buddy – it’s now on mine. wink  Beyond that, there is surprisingly little information about this watch and its variations.

Ref. 37010, men's model

Size: 26mm x 36mm x 31mm

Cal. 1050 or 1050/B??? (with Gyromax balance)

Available in white gold, yellow gold…?

Several different dial variants with printed or applied markers or plain dials; white and black dials.

Some models show “Vacheron & Constantin,” while others presumably made from 1974 ff. show “Vacheron Constantin.”

Was there a model for ladies introduced at or about the same time? (ref. 15207 perhaps, also engraved with “Prestige de la France)

Is the crown the same style on all the models (cabochon sapphire-set)?

When did the dual-time 1972 come out and is there more information on this one?
Help me out guys.  Do any of you have more images of this watch to share? Any additional information or corrections to what is above?  Any other owners among us?  Thoughts on the 1972 PdlF in general? 

Most importantly, do we think the 1972 PdlF would look good on a 7.5 inch wrist?

Prestige de la France – Questions


Re: Prestige de la France – Questions
04/03/2012 - 20:00
The watch is still available from VC and there are a number of them shown on their website. As for the original, i believe there was a women's version. I think it was on display at the geneva Boutique during the SIHH dinner last January. It was quite lovely. Guillaume and I were discussing it . But i/ve never investigated it, not being interested in acquiring one. The one you show, Robert, is quite elegant and it may have been the one on display. I do remember thinking that it looked a lot better than in the photos. Keep an eye out. One never knows when it may appear. I'll let you know if i spot one. Regards, joseph
Re: Re: Prestige de la France – Questions
04/03/2012 - 20:16
Hi Joseph, Thanks for the reply.  I am trying to investigate the original and early models v. the 1972 collection available now from VC.  The image I posted is from VC's web site and it is the version I am most drawn to.  Of course it is is NOT at the very, very top of my wish list, Joseph.  wink Hope all is well with you. Best, Robert
some photos to help you while I try to find answers
04/03/2012 - 20:15
took last December in Paris, a collector had his original Prestige de France, the hairy wrist is mine though cheekyVacheron Constantin 1972Vacheron Constantin 1972Vacheron Constantin 1972
Thank you, Alex!
04/03/2012 - 20:21
Yes, that works!  Hard to tell what the crown looks like from the photos, but this one looks like the yellow gold with applied markers.  Now the buckle is quite interesting!  I wonder now if the same style buckle was used on all of the early models as show in your post...? I like this version very much.  Gorgeous!  The wrist is nice, too. wink Thank you, Robert
1974 Catalog
04/03/2012 - 23:32
Pictures courtesy of Patrice IIRC.
You are awesome, Dean!
04/04/2012 - 00:14
Thank you.  And wow, quite a few variants, aren't there?  This is really helpful. I am slow today -- what is the difference between cuir and bis/cuir?  What is Brllts and BD?  Best, Robert
Need some help here
04/04/2012 - 01:11
My French is of the Babel Fish variety, but I recognize leather strap (cuir) with and without BD (perhaps boucle d'or for gold buckle), leather strap with and without diamonds (brilliants), gold bracelet with and without diamonds, and the last four appear to be a sub-variant 628A (bis) on strap with and without diamonds and with buckle, and on bracelet with and without diamonds (now using abbreviation Br.) indecision More compentent translations are very welcome!
you got it all right mon ami other than BD which most probably
04/04/2012 - 01:37
stands for Boucle Déployante or deployant clasp
Très bon, merci :-)
04/04/2012 - 05:20
Ref. 628B
04/04/2012 - 05:28
Found them on another page...
So, the mystery deepens a bit
04/04/2012 - 06:08
These are from the same catalogue as the others, right, from 1974?  So in this scan, I think I can make out that the "&" is still there on these dials.  These with the sword hands look more like the one Doc had: But his is missing the "&" and has a different crown with the gem-set crown.  So, I am guessing his was a later version, post-1974.  Does the "b" in the ref. number for these three watches refer to the different hands and/or a modified caliber 1050 inside (1050/B v. 1050)?  I saw what was listed as a ref. 15207 in an Antiquorum catalogue that had a cal.1050/B listed as the movement. Interesting that only two of these have the V&C name and "Geneve" placed in the bottom section of the dial... Thanks for the additional image, Dean.  By the way, I know I am asking a lot of questions, but I don't expect answers to all of them.  I am really just "thinking out loud," and I really appreciate the information and images posted so far.  Best, Robert
Re: So, the mystery deepens a bit
04/04/2012 - 07:18
Robert, Sotheby's hasn't had one up for sale since at least 2000 (that I could find). Chrities had 2, both with the 1050B movement. Both had cabuchons in the crowns, one was set with diamonds. You can do a search on the Christies site for "Vacheron Prestige" if you want to see them and the full descriptions. But here are the links anyway:
Thank you, Joseph
04/04/2012 - 16:43
The diamond set one is listed as circa 1970 (well, I guess they are allowed to be off by a couple of years or so, right?), has the cabochoin in the crown, as you noted, and from the "&" would appear to be from 1974 or earlier.  The other example is listed as from 1976, which makes sense as the "&" is now gone.  It was good to see these examples, neither of which is exactly duplicated in the pictures from the1974 catalogue that Dean has shown us. Best, Robert
more info
04/04/2012 - 16:45
Joseph has a great idea to check the auction houses...Antiquorum featured a pair in the Quarter Millennium of VC sale with this write-up:Lots 240-241, Prestige de la France: Vacheron Constantin has always had a close relationship with France particularly during the Art Deco period and the remarkable and prolific collaboration with Verger Freres.  These ties grew even stronger during the 1970s, as Vacheron Constantin  was awarded the "Prestige de la France" on June 23, 1972. During a reception at Paris' Ritz Hotel attended by Mr. Francois-Xavier Ortoli, the Minister of Developpement Industriel et scientifique, the Prestige de la France diploma was awarded to Mr. Jaques Ketterer, President-Directeur general of Vacheron Constantin by M. Louis W. Christaens, President of the Comite de prestige et de propagande nationale. The collection of curved and asymmetrical watches that became known as the Prestige de la France collection was given the supreme privilege of being allowed to engrave the emblem of the association -  a laurel-leaf crown surrounding the words Prestige de la France - on the watch cover.  This creation of Vacheron Constantin's Paris bureau is one of the few truly memorable creations of the 1970s, a period which was less rich in noteworthy designs than others. In 1999, Vacheron Constantin re-offered the collection, naming it "1972". Technical details of lot 240: Ref. 2091, No. 076 (numbered series?), made in 1972, dim. 21x46mm, thickness 7mm, Cal. 7''' 1050/3, Gyrromax balance (no ampersand "&" on dial). Technical details of lot 241: Ref. 15207, series III, No. 091, made 1978, dim. 18x37mm (smaller, ladies model?), thickness 7mm, Cal. K1050/B, Gyromax balance (no "&", logo printed at 6 o'clock). So far this enquiry has revealed a period in VC history when the reference numbering system underwent a few changes, as well as the caliber numbering system.  Around 1972 they changed from a four digit to three-digit reference system.  They also added the "K" to their calibers. Here are pics of the dual time verison, which is marked as a Series III, No. 198.  Wonder if it has dual mechanical movements?
Re: more info
04/04/2012 - 18:28
Yes, the referencing system changes make this a confusing period.  What is interesting to me, Dean is that the Dual Time version you show above (from what year?) has the PDLF laurel engraved on the back.  I had assumed that only the first series of watches produced in 1972 might have come with this engraving. 

This image from Secrets of Vacheron provides a concise, albeit incomplete, summary of the 1972 (note all three listed as ladies watches): This one from an Anitquorum Catalogue appears to be a smaller, ladies version, and note the 5-digit reference number! To add to the confusion, this example from Treasures of Vacheron Constantin indicates that the caliber is1052.  The description is also interesting in that it describes the original series as a limited edition accompanied by a special lithograph by Jean Carzou.  Wouldn't it be something to find a complete set with the watch and the lithograph?!?!?  

I am willing to bet that the dual time PDLF has a double movement as the following two non-PDLF references do (also from Treasures of Vacheron Constantin):  

I hope Alex will be able to fill in the gaps...
04/05/2012 - 04:26
as I've reached the end of my resources.  FWIW, the dual time version is marked as Series III, so its circa 1978, and I'm guessing we'll have a different reference number with each series.
Re: 1974 Catalog
08/27/2013 - 13:35
Hi , May I ask was it quoted in Swiss Franc or French currency that time? Thanks.
A true beauty, Robert...
04/04/2012 - 10:57
But may I sugggest you try one on before making a final call. I managed to strap one on in a vintage watch shop in Paris and even though it spoke to me in a thousand ways it was still... well... small and felt fragile on the wrist. Happy hunting!
Well, you know my wrist, buddy. LOL.
04/04/2012 - 16:53
I think it surprised you how the Overseas fit when I first put it on.  surprise  And so I take your warning seriously.  The size would be my main concern, but it is such an alluring piece... It is unlikely that I will have a chance to try one on anytime soon -- they do seem very scarce -- but who knows.  For now the PdlF fascinates me, and I will learn as much as I can.  There is definitely one other VC for which I am ardent and possibly a 2-3 others ahead of the Prestige on the list. I am glad you chimed in, my friend, as your old posts on the Prestige helped to light this fire. Warm regards, Robert
Hi Robert,
04/06/2012 - 14:06
I love your wrist. I think it can easily accomodate pieces up to 47mm (Panerai beware!!!), no kidding. I think I kind of went through a stage of PdlF fascination, just like you are right now. I still love the piece. It was so avantgarde at the time. And its international recognition was well deserved. I have to tell you, I noticed we all (watch enthusiasts) pass through certain stages of fascination with different pieces. At a point my mind was so set on PdlF I did everything I could to get one. I did get a tip from Alex about availibility of one at a vintage watch shop in Paris and luck had it I was going to be in Paris soon. I walked into the shop with a strong conviction I was going to fall for the piece and buy it right off the bat. But it definitely turned me off when it sat on my wrist. It was too delicate. Other than that it is a very dressy design and it would only fit with a suit on, cufflinks and the works. To me there is only one vintage piece that will haunt me forever - a Cioccolatone triple date in RG - a rare bird. And one day when my wallet allows  I will get it. It is my ultimate vintage VC. I did bid on one at a Patrizzi auction a few years ago but the competition was too strongangry. Anyway, let me tell you about a VC that I am after these days. It took me quite a long time to understand and truly appreciate the watch. Overseas Enginesurprise - so many firsts for VC I can barely count them all. And it didn't get much love here either. I think it's so different from the mainstream OS offerings that I want it real bad nowcool. Cheers bro and happy Easter to your little flock over the pond! Radek  
Thank you for writing that, Radek
04/06/2012 - 16:40
Your words help me to keep things in perspective.  I appreciate the wisdom and your sharing that story of your experience with the PdlF.  I am not sure if this watch will end up on my wrist at some point or not, but for now, I am very happy just to be learning more about this fascinating piece from VC.  The vintage pieces in general pose a challenge for my wrist.  frown Now, as for the Overseas Engine...that is an amazing watch!  I am glad you have not given up on the Overseas.  That is a very special Overseas, as you have noted already.  It is perhaps the only version that might make me reconsider our American (but probably not even then as our OS is very special to me).  I really hope you find one.  I was not even brave enough to try.  laugh  You are right, it did not get much love here, which is a shame.  Best of luck in the hunt.  Happy Easter to you and your beautiful family, Robert