Two Princesses and a V&C

So I'm chillin on the sofa, enjoying an interesting documentary on the TV the other night, when a close-up set alarm bells ringing.  I know that watch!  

As the title suggests, the subject of this documentary was royalty.  V&C has a long association with royalty, which I first discovered while researching a previous THL article; Proud Possession of Royalty.  It was then I learned of a connection between the Maison and HRH Princess Elizabeth for, upon her marriage to Philip Mountbatten in November of 1947, the princess was gifted a V&C watch by the Swiss Government.

A Tale of Two Princesses - and the V&C they have in common.

This advertisement provides a great deal of information about the watch itself; "a sparkling river" of 64 round cut and 6 baguette diamonds affixed to a platinum case, containing a precision movement of 17 jewels that only measures 12 mm across.  The photo inset shows a proud Georges Ketterer examining the watch with a loupe while the workmen look on.  The real star is the fellow seated, MM. Houriet, sertisseur (jewel setter).

The watch faded from memory until the aforementioned TV show.  Prince Philip: The Plot to Make a King, is a worthy way to spend an hour for anyone interested in 20th century history.  I was following along as they reached the point when Philip marries the younger Elizabeth, and they went off on a honeymoon followed by a gaggle of news reporters.

A Tale of Two Princesses and their V&C

Princess Elizabeth was asked to show off her wedding ring and she generously obliged.

A Tale of Two Princesses and their V&C

Man, that could be the watch surprise.

A Tale of Two Princesses and their V&C

Here it is in 1987, as catalogued in the book; The Queen's Jewels: The Personal Collection of Elizabeth II, by Harry N. Abrams.  The movement, as described in the advertisement, would be a very small round caliber of 5 1/2 lignes.  This actually was highly unusual as almost all movements of that size from the period were shaped.  One exception was the backwinding LeCoultre cal. 426.  Although V&C didn't have a version of the 426 in their catalog, their relationship with JLC makes it a reasonable candidate as the base for this one-off creation.

Two Princesses and a V&C

The watch was featured once again in an advertisement by Vacheron et Constantin.  This ad appeared in 1953 following her coronation as Queen Elizabeth II.

A Tale of Two Princesses and their V&C

The text reminds readers that Vacheron & Constantin is the favorite of the rich and powerful.  So the watch ascends, along with its owner, from Princess to Queen.  Many years later it was to return to a Princess.

A Tale of Two Princesses and their V&C

Yes, that is our V&C on the wrist of the Princess of Wales in 1995.  Queen Elizabeth gifted the watch to Lady Diana on the occasion of her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981.  Given as a wedding gift to a princess not once, but twice, is certainly a most wonderful provenance.  Alas, its current whereabouts are unknown to this writer but hopefully it still resides with the family.  Who knows what future adventures this amazing little V&C will have... 

Amazing...thank you so much for sharing this. Heritage like this is what
02/15/2016 - 09:24

makes VC so great. 

I am sure the watch is still there among their somewhere. But if it was gifted to Diana, then I assume Prince William and Harry are the heirs.

Who knows where she took her possession after her separation / divorce from Prince Charles. And her sons were still very young when she died in 1997. 

Maybe if P. Charles or his sons visit this forum, it might entice them to find out more. smiley


Is it the Duchess of Cambridge?
02/15/2016 - 11:56

I would imagine that it would be passed on to the Dutchess of Cambridge, Prince William's wife. However, from this photo, it's clear that she is not wearing it , but some other one. (Any guesses of the marque?) In a quick perusal of Kate in more formal occasions, she is wearing no watch at all.Is it the Duchess of Cambridge?

Looks like a Ballon Bleu
02/15/2016 - 12:44

C'mon Duchess. Time to upgrade to the top marque in the Richemont family (at least the top Swiss one - there may be a Saxon brand At the same tier).  Let's see that lovely VC at the next Royal soirée. 


How about The Duchess of Cornwall?
02/15/2016 - 21:51

I found the watch on Kate. Someone else check out The Duchess of Cornwall. (Shudder...)

Hope she doesn't go for this
02/16/2016 - 19:01

The Bedazzler cool

Hope she doesn't go for this

Interesting configuration...
02/16/2016 - 19:14

Besides being a bedazzler, not sure I have noticed a VC (or V&C) with a date at 9 o'clock.  I say this with the caveat that my knowledge is far from encyclopedic, but I am working on it.

Re: Interesting configuration...
02/17/2016 - 00:23

Unique to that model.  Check this post here.

Thanks Dean - 333...
02/17/2016 - 13:57

Interesting. And it is quite Phidias-like in appearance. Thank you for the cross-reference. 

And one more left-side date window
02/17/2016 - 20:45

A ringer, being a special order left-handed model, but fitting to recall with interest in the Overseas right now.

Antiquorum photo


Re: Amazing...thank you so much for sharing this. Heritage like this is what
02/15/2016 - 20:20

I couldn't agree more. This kind of storys are so exciting to read.

I love the way you create a detective story from one image :-)
02/16/2016 - 08:46
Holmes refers: "To the curious incident of the missing Vacheron Constantin...."
02/16/2016 - 12:31

What else could we do? A missing watch; a princess....


or to quote Alice, the case becomes,..."Curiouser and curiouser..."

Looking forward to seeing where it turns up next
02/16/2016 - 16:53

Thanks all for your feedback smiley

Re: Two Princesses and a V&C
02/16/2016 - 17:14

Intriguing story. You have an amazing eye for detail, Dean



Marvelous, Dean
02/17/2016 - 18:47

Once more you have enriched the heritage of our favorite brand.  Thanks.

Re: Two Princesses and a V&C
02/18/2016 - 05:04

Thank you.

I have learned a great deal

not only about history

but also about significance of treasure tradition

from your posting.