A Third Founding Date!

Most are familiar with the founding date of Vacheron Constantin as 1755, when Jean-Marc Vacheron opened his workshop in the Old City of Geneva.

Many are probably aware that up until the 1950s it was thought the founding date was 1785, based on available records.

But how many were aware that a third founding date of 1810 appeared in advertising of the late 19th century?  Have a look...

1884 ad:
A Third Founding Date!

1888 ad:
A Third Founding Date!

1892 ad:
A Third Founding Date!

By the time Charles Constantin wrote his Annales in 1928, the date of 1785 was established.  However, early in his narrative he suggests the reason for this third date:

The oldest document preserved in the archives of the factory is a copy of letters containing correspondence from late December 1810 until April 1814 by Jaques-Barthelemy Vacheron, son and successor of Abraham, his uncle and associated Bartholomew Girod.

Not earth-shattering, but interesting enlightened.
Re: A Third Founding Date!
01/03/2013 - 05:49
The explanation, Dean, I believe, is that in 1810 Vacheron moved to a much larger premises, partly helped by his father-in-law, as a business partner and the person who was able to convert the new premises to the needs of the company. The company briefly went under the name "Vacheron - Chossat". This step was a milestone in the company's history, since they were not only now able to produce more and better watches, but they were expanding while other companies were failing. At this time the company diversified more in producing specific designs to meet different markets. So I suppose the line in the ad: "Factory: GENEVA Switzerland, Established 1810" likely refers to the opening of the new premises by Vacheron and Chossat. (Emphasis on the word "Factory" Joseph
From Etablisseur to Manufacture?
01/03/2013 - 17:43
That makes sense Joseph, if 1810 marked their progression from an établisseur collecting the components from other Genevois specialists and farmer-repassients to an integrated Manufacture.  Interesting that V&C themselves applied this distinction then later went back into history for their roots as cabinotiers.
Just a further question...
01/05/2013 - 15:33
Thank you Dean for 'digging-out' this piece of information. The 1884 advertisement features Chas. Leo Abry as the sole agent in the United States and Canada for V&C. They must have had some very good 'pedigree' points to have acquired the sole agency. Is there anything you and/or Joseph can add about the appointment of the agency and indeed when it was decided to exit the arrangement? Tony
American agents for V&C
01/05/2013 - 19:34
Tony, my research suggests the following chronology of American agents for V&C: 1833: V&C arranges with Bonnaffe & Boisgirard of Le Havre to use their New York agent, Jean Magnim. 1836: V&C appoints a "Brez" as agent in New Orleans. 1848: V&C appoints Fernard Thieriot as sole American agent. 1864: V&C agency passes from F. Thierot to three successive members of Abry agency. 1894: V&C appoints Edmond E. Robert of New York as exclusive American agent. 1937: V&C liquidates EER and transfers agency to Longines-Wittnauer. I've asked the Heritage Dept to confirm or add to this list and am awaiting a reply.  As you can see, the Abry family held sway for thirty years.  According to the Annales, F. Thierot sold his agency to S.E. Abry upon retirement.  When the first Abry died in 1864, control passed to his brother, J.A. Abry.  At this point, they gained exclusive rights in the American market to represent V&C.  When J.A. retired for health reasons, his son Charles Lee Abry continued the business.  However, on Feb. 15, 1894, Edmond E. Robert was appointed to head the American distribution agency. The record is unclear as to why Abry was replaced, but more details are revealed regarding EER's eventual replacement over forty years later.   In 1937, EER owed V&C a considerable sum of 140,000 Francs and were apparently unable to recover from the Depresson.  Charles Constantin went to New York where he first made contact with Longines-Wittnauer, the American distribution agency not to be confused with the Manufacture.  Their relationship was secured with new financing and ensured that V&C survived EER's insolvency.
Chas. Abry, more info, Tony
01/05/2013 - 20:15
Since Abry died of heart disease in 1895, it's possible that he may have been ill in 1894 and unable to continue the business. The family had already moved to Cranford N.J. and in fact in 1877 he was mayor. He had 4 sons. I would suspect that they did not want to carry on their father's business. (Just speculation), but the business was quite successful. In the 1884 edition of New York's Great Industrie (p141) is a very nice description of the Abry family and a very flattering one of Vacheron as well.http://books.google.ca/books?id=d6ieSXFM2kIC&pg=PA141&lpg=PA141&dq=family+of+Charles+Leo+Abry&source=bl&ots=fEzb056YnY&sig=egBQ18DDlKSvbaFrGn4433Xb0Gw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=AmzoUJKpKJD2qQHawYGoAQ&ved=0CEUQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=family%20of%20Charles%20Leo%20Abry&f=false Joseph
Taking time to look back...
01/06/2013 - 14:20
Dean - I've found your research so enlightening and interesting. I wonder what the response will be from the Heritage department? Most grateful for your contribution. Regards Tony
Once you master Google Tony
01/06/2013 - 18:19
you won't need us anymore crying.  Well, maybe there will still be a few obscure tidbits to share, from time-to-time...devil
I take on board what you say Dean....but -
01/06/2013 - 21:32
- you have that knack of squeezing-out bits of information that 'most of us can't find!'crying. In the meantime I'II continue watching like a hawk..................yes This all seems like a good start to the New Year! Best wishes Tony
Re: American agents for VC
08/29/2013 - 03:56
Sorry, I neglected to update this thread when I received a reply back in February from VC Heritage Department on the dates for their American Agents. There were two date corrections, as folllows: 1832: V&C arranges to use New York agent, Jean Magnim. 1865: V&C agency passes to Abry family.
Re: Just a further question...
01/05/2013 - 19:56
Hi Tony, This is the link to the Jewelers Circular and Horological Review from which the VC ad is taken:http://books.google.ca/books?id=sXIoAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR34&lpg=PR34&dq=Chas+Leo+Abry&source=bl&ots=SypPIoy--E&sig=u24KGhjpP7XORzf8T9NFm0TXNp4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=ZWLoUM_OCISJrAHwkYGIAw&ved=0CFUQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=Chas%20Leo%20Abry&f=false This next quote is from the NAwcc website: North American V. & C. Agents In the mid-1880s, and into the early 1890s, Chas. Leo Abry, 63 Nassau St., New York, NY was the sole agent for V. & C. in the U.S. and Canada. Ads of that era, such as a May 1887 Ad offered V. & C. movements to fit American size cases and noted that private labeling was available "... without Extra Charge." By the mid-1890s, the firm of Edmond E. Robert, 3 Maiden Lane, New York, NY, had become V. & C.'s agent, an arrangement that lasted at least as late as 1910, if not much longer. With that transition, the ads showed that the watches are "... adjusted to Heat, Cold, and Positions." Here's another link from Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/79107956@N00/29401292/   This is from Vol. xxxvi (the previous ad was from Vol. xxxv) It shows a new address on Maiden Lane rather than Nassau St.. So they moved probably to larger premises. The area in NYC was in the 19th century the centre of the jewelery trade. There is a very interesting link to the history of this building on Nassau St. It's fascinating reading. The building is a protected historical site now, I believe.  Here's the Google link to a PDF file.http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=11&ved=0CDEQFjAAOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nyc.gov%2Fhtml%2Flpc%2Fdownloads%2Fpdf%2Freports%2F63nassaustreet.pdf&ei=3mboUL_qMMSCrAHKwIGgAQ&usg=AFQjCNGUQUKx55EZ-zcTTM39DXUPpFRNIw&bvm=bv.1355534169,d.aWM But just a quote from it regarding the Abry family. "Most of the 19th-century tenants in the upper stories of No. 63 Nassau Street were associated with the Maiden Lane jewelry district. The earliest known tenant, from 1860 to 1887, was the watch/import firm of the Abry family. Auguste A. Abry (c. 1787-1870), born in Switzerland, moved to the watchmaking center of Besancon, France, apparently establishing a firm there in 1827, then immigrating to New York City in 1832. His son, Jean Auguste Abry (c. 1817- ), worked with and succeeded him (the location of their business in 1859 was No. 3 Maiden Lane). The family moved to Cranford, N.J., in the 1850s. Augustus Abry was last listed in city directories in 1863-64, and Jean retired by the late 1870s. His son, Charles Leo Abry (c. 1837-1895), was a “manufacturer and importer of Swiss watches and dealer in American watches” and sole North American agent for Vacheron & Constantin watches,24 the oldest watch company in Geneva (established 1755)." Charles Abry died of heart disease at age 58. He was a veteran of the Civil War. I hope this heps, Tony.
Keeping the rolling stock on the move!...
01/06/2013 - 14:33
Joseph, Thank you so much for the links to some very interesting sites. Clearly, the V&C brand played an important role on the railroad to maintain prompt arrivals and departures. Your contribution has further helped to 'paint the picture'. Very grateful! Tony