I've sent 2 watches in for work over the past year. Both are vintage, one being 100 years old and the other being 55 years, and in need of major work (either hand making new components or replacing worn parts).
Both have been quoted at 12 months, one was done in 10 months and the other has been expedited by the Director of After Sales service - its only been 4 months so far on that one.
I've had communications problems with Richemont U.S. (similar to Dean with Richemont Canada). I'm also still waiting to hear back from VC on the watch that has been returned. I've written to both Richemont and VC about my concerns and expectations but have not gotten satisfactory replies yet. I know that the holidays and SIHH got in the way, but those are over and I expect business to get back to normal.
Based on what I've read from the other posters, my experience is not unique - actually less traumatic (i.e. James, I hope you get really good news very quickly). While VC has increased its staff and has a focus on service and restoration (according to interviews/articles in VC's Watchtime Special Edition), there are still gaps between desired vs. actual.
I'veluckily received some personal attention from the Director of After Sales Service and am grateful, he is a very dedicated individual with a passion for getting things done right. But I think he is facing the challenges of changing/re-engineering the after-sales service system (both internal within VC and the shared services between VC and Richemont). I'm afraid that this senior executive is putting out too many fires by himself, instead of being able to rely on a system to meet his performance expectations. Unfortunately, when quality and service standards rely on any one individual (no matter how dedicated), it is impossible to extinguish all the fires in a manner that is satisfactory to each and every stakeholder. I believe the results are being displayed in the previous posts.
My experience with watch company service is limited to 2 companies, but I had to send in a brand new Omega watch for full-service only 3 months after buying it due to slow and inconsistent performance. It has just started acting up again. The original service was provided at an Omega Flaship Store under original warranty service and this new service is being done under the previous service's one year warranty (luckily, I made it in time, just under the wire by 4 days). I'm very surprised that the watch would have these problems (running slow and only working for 15-20 hours after being fully wound, even with it being an automatic) after being fully serviced only a year ago. Service is recommended at 5 year intervals and this is a co-axial movement that is supposed to have less reliability and oil related issues. I guess this shows to me what I've read others say about Swiss watch after sales service and support - that in general, there is much room for improvement. There was an interesting article on this in the New York Times a few months ago, but I can't recall the exact date.
Given these experiences, I would still send my watches to their authorized service centers and plan on sending 2 more vintage VCs into the Spa this year. For vintage watches, though they are not perfect, I believe VC does still have the most complete knowledge and experience in making the watch "as good as new". For newer watches, the local regional service centers should be able to do the work. I will send my newer ones into the VC Maison in Shanghai, as I know and trust the master watchmaker and don't have to deal with Richemont or other delivery, 3rd party, issues.