Some thoughts about Vacheron Constantin...

Last year, I wrote an article for the Vacheron Constantin magazine in the Asia-Pacific region.  After checking with Alex, I thought that I would share it with my fellow Loungers.  I hope that you will enjoy reading my thoughts and I thank you for taking the time to read it.  I have also included some pictures that were taken by VC to accompany the article.




Vacheron Constantin: My Manufacture for the Ages

By Duncan K. Wang

If during the 1970’s, the Swiss watch industry faced some of its darkest days due to the Quartz Crisis, then today might mark a truly golden age for the industry. This is truly the era of haute horology and both the manufactures and their fans have enjoyed this period of unprecedented achievement and rewards.

One manufacture, that has seen it all, is Vacheron Constantin. Being the manufacture with the longest, continuously running operations of over 250 years, Vacheron Constantin has endured the difficult periods and has always remained as one of the most highly regarded brands in the watch industry. Throughout history, this revered manufacture has remained true and consistent to its values and principles of producing the highest quality timepieces. For these reasons and others, Vacheron Constantin is one of my favorite brands to collect.

Some thoughts about Vacheron Constantin...

To commemorate the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese

As a watch collector, I am faced with a plethora of choices, especially during this time of phenomenal growth in the industry. Sorting through all of the new and different offerings is a challenge, albeit a most enjoyable one. For me, there are few hard and fast rules in choosing a watch but a couple of the basics are that the watch should be special in some manner and therefore it should embody an emotional relationship between myself and the timepiece. Secondly, the watch must be wearable. A fundamental philosophy that guides my collecting is that I must want to wear the watches in my collection, be them the simplest two-handed time only watch to the highest of complications. My Vacheron Constantin watches more than satisfy these criteria.

There are two timepieces in my collection, which are wonderful expressions of the virtues of Vacheron Constantin. Both demonstrate not only the fine craftsmanship that goes into the manufacture’s timepieces but also are significant to me beyond their tangible value as beautifully crafted watches.

Some thoughts about Vacheron Constantin...

The specially handpainted rotor on the Jubilé 1755

In 2005, Vacheron Constantin celebrated its historic 250th anniversary. The year was marked with wonderful celebrations and also the release of some truly masterful timepieces to commemorate this grandest of anniversaries. While much of the attention was focused on the Tour de L’île as being the world’s most complicated wristwatch, there were a number of other very special pieces produced. One of my favorites is the Jubilé 1755. This watch featured the brand new Caliber 2475 automatic movement and exhibited some of the finest finishing and gorgeous guilloche work that has ever been seen in fine watchmaking. The brand has always been known for its exceptional levels of decorating and polishing and this piece was no exception. However, there is one piece that was produced which is just a little bit more special. One of the yellow gold pieces was held in reserve to create a piece unique and was subsequently donated by Vacheron Constantin so that it could auctioned for the benefit of a children’s charitable cause. On this piece, the Singapore flag was handpainted onto the rotor creating a truly memorable piece. Personally, I have always had a tremendous affinity for the Republic of Singapore and have spent much of the past 10 years living there. The opportunity to own this special piece and help a worthy cause was irresistible. As a person with considerable involvement with charities, I always respect companies that demonstrate a true commitment to giving back to the community and Vacheron Constantin has been a tremendous supporter of charitable purposes, be them organizations assisting the less fortunate or those supporting the arts. Not only does the company produce the highest quality timepieces, but it also sets a standard for civic mindedness that I admire and hope other organizations will emulate.

Some thoughts about Vacheron Constantin...

The Black Malte Tourbillon in platinum

While the production of the 250th anniversary pieces was extremely limited, in 2006, Vacheron Constantin produced an even more limited edition with its Black Malte Tourbillon. Only three pieces were made and they were available exclusively through the brand’s boutiques in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Certainly the nature of the limited production would ensure a degree of collectability for these pieces but I found something far more significant for both the brand and its collectors alike. While one typically thinks of the manufacture for their beautiful and timeless pieces which radiate traditional horology, one instantly realizes that something is different with this watch. At first glance, one can see that the Black Malte Tourbillon presents a much more modern look to the historic Malte Tourbillon. The movement is black nickel plated and then is finished with stunning perlage decoration. This creates the appearance of a very modern material, carbon fibre. I see this wonderful timepiece as the epitome of the modern execution of traditional values in fine watchmaking and I hope that Vacheron Constantin will continue this course to broaden their appeal to the watch-loving community. The Black Malte Tourbillon could mark a significant point in the evolution of the brand and I consider myself very fortunate to have this piece in my collection.

Some thoughts about Vacheron Constantin...

Good friends with beautiful watches!

From left to right Back: Mr Ng Tjeng Jaw, Mr. David Heng (Managing Director for Vacheron Constantin - Southeast Asia) and Mr. Larry Wee

Front: Ms. Jenny Hui (Marketing Manager for Vacheron Constantin - Southeast Asia) And Mr. Duncan K. Wang

Vacheron Constantin has a richly deserved place amongst the very best of the hierarchy of fine watchmaking and that is what initially appealed to me as a collector. Over the years, as I have learned more and seen the developments in the watch industry, I can see that there is much more to the brand than just their timepieces. From Mr. Juan-Carlos Torres, their Chief Executive Officer, to all of the friendly and gracious people in their Singapore office, the company is infused with quality and that is then found in their products. Now, with over 250 years of storied history under their belt, Vacheron Constantin is evolving and poised to be equally successful over the next quarter of a millennium.

Collecting fine timepieces is a very human experience. For me, it goes far beyond just the tangible watch, as they need to evoke an emotional and intellectual response. Vacheron Constantin consistently achieves this reaction with its timepieces. In 2007, they redefined the concept of horological art with the stunning Métiers d'Art Les Masques pieces. This is yet another example of how the brand produces superior timepieces that are designed to bring their owners a truly rewarding collecting experience. As Franco Cologni wrote in the foreward to his fascinating book, the “Secrets of Vacheron Constantin”, this is a manufacture and these are timepieces that appeal to the five senses. With deference to Mr. Cologni, I humbly add that they also appeal to another vital organ, the human heart. For me, there is nothing more that one can ask for from watches or for that matter, anything in life.

Thanks Duncan
05/23/2008 - 04:42

for and interesting read. I too beleive collecting should be and emotional and enjoyable experience.  Which has led me to not only the watches, but the literature on horology also.  Fantastic watches you have there by the way.

Thank you Duncan for your article...
05/23/2008 - 10:59

... your experience about VC is very interesting!

Have you got more pics of the marvelous Black Malte Toubillon please?

One of the most pleasurable consequences of collectiong has
05/23/2008 - 12:14

become for me meeting other nuts around the world. Its funny how you can immediately click with someone just by exchanging posts and if and when you get to see them you feel as if you're catching up with an old friend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on VC, it seems to me that among the big three VC was the one who came limping hardest out of the quartz crisis and where in the 90s others were building brand equity VC was still looking for its identity, was it its long history being a creative burden? Of course there were watches such as the Mercator or the amazing skeleton tourbillons and repeaters but the majority of the collection did lack the je ne sais quoi which makes your heart skip a beat each time you look at it. The 250th anniversary was in my opinion something of a catharsis; the brand celebrated it and got it over with. They could stop looking behind but instead forward which explains the absolutely surprising, audacious timepieces we have seen from them since, from the limited edition Masks, Sputnik, Malte black nickel tourbillon to the new Quai de l'Ile Collection. As surprising as it may seem these contemporary bold watches have their roots deep in VC's past where the brand was always testing new designs and forms. Collecting, as I started out by saying has a lot to do with the human experience, and I agree with you, the folks working at VC (may they be the watchmakers, the directors, in CH or worldwide) are genuinely really nice people and believe me in an industry where vanity has become a second nature this is far from being the case everywhere.

all of the above and even more. Vc other than having a very romantic
05/23/2008 - 12:48

name also has an atmosphere surrounding it which one of quietude and zen in a market which is moving faster and faster (when will it trip?)

You have some great watches Duncan and I would love to see more scans of the black nickel tourbillon.

Thanks for sharing

Thanks Duncan,
05/23/2008 - 14:01

It's rare for me to see a philosophy that summarizes what to look for in a watch but when you stated

"the watch should be special in some manner and therefore it should embody an emotional relationship between myself and the timepiece. Secondly, the watch must be wearable."

it said it all. I couldn't agree with you more. There is a tendancy to buy the latest gadget with all the complications or the latest trend watch, but if you don't get the emotional impact when you put it on your wrist and you cannot take your eyes off it then its really nothing more then a watch and has no intrinsic value other then to tell the time.

Great post...many thanks.

Mr L

Re: Some thoughts about Vacheron Constantin...
05/23/2008 - 14:46

Thanks Duncan,

...for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I believe they eloquently express the feelings of many if not all of us at this Forum.


Thanks Guys!
05/23/2008 - 15:10

Your time to read my post and your kind words are both very much appreciated.

I am very glad that my fellow VC fans and collectors share some of the same perspectives on our hobby.  I am also very glad that Alex has built up this nice little spot on the Internet for us to hang out in.  Without any scientific evidence, I feel that VC enthusiasts have a slightly different view on horology and collecting.  It is one that I find very warm and mature.  It is nice to exchange views in such a pleasant environment, without a lot of the nonsense that one finds elsewhere.  Kudos and thanks again to Alex.

I will try to post some more pics of the Black Malte Tourbillon soon.  Just have to find them on the mess that is my server...

Have a great weekend!


thank you for the kind words Duncan, but I have to admit that
05/23/2008 - 21:52

the Loungers are 1st class

Okay, plenty of credit and appreciation for everyone here...
05/24/2008 - 02:32

Thanks to all!

Hour Lounge is indeed a different place where passion
05/24/2008 - 06:45

still rules over hype/trend/money. Kudos to Alex!

A very nice article you made Duncan
05/23/2008 - 15:08

It's done with your sensitivity and your heart as you mentioned, and I must say that I share your views.

This is why VC can be generally and globally loved by collectors. Let them keep this way for the future.

Very interesting thoughts Duncan. I agree that a watch is worth
05/23/2008 - 17:01

having only if has an emotional impact on you and not because its the latest trend or because your fellow WIS will find it cool. That's one thing I like about the VC community (at least the one here on HL) is that when it comes to watches they don't go for the hype.

Wonderful sentiments...
05/23/2008 - 18:51

Your story reflects the emotions of collecting watches for their beauty and symbolism.  Possessing time is an illusion but perhaps possessing timepieces is our symbolic attempt?

With regret I must announce that I have given up the VC Overseas that went to the summit of Aconcagua with me.  It has been sold to finance my next mountain adventure.  Trading an object for an experience seems proper however - even a collector must accept that life has more value than possessions.

oh no, if there is a watch with a story to tell your Overseas is
05/23/2008 - 21:51

definately one!

But as you say one should not get attached to posessions but to the memories they represent.

Thank goodness watches can't talk
05/24/2008 - 12:55

are we would all be in trouble

Thanks Duncan !
05/24/2008 - 00:48

Especially for those rare pics

Fantastic aricle in a concentrated form,

which I love 



Thanks you so much Duncan. Your article...
05/25/2008 - 18:45

expresses exactly how I feel about Vacheron Constantin!!!

Beautiful watches... Need more scans of this amazing Black Malte Tourbillion, please