Vacheron & China

Dear friends,

What is the history of V&C in China? Their marketing claims more than a century of presence in the nation - did Vacheron produce pocket watches for the Chinese market, as Bovet did for example?

Why is V&C particularly popular with Chinese customers? Are its curvaceous case styles and flamboyance of its dials (especially with the enamel Metier d'Árts) naturally attractive to the Chinese as a culture?

Apparently, the knowledge of how to create enamel dials on timepieces arrived in China in the 19th century together with watches and clocks from Europe. The Qing imperial court commissioned Chinese artisans to learn from and ultimately recreate these enamel masterpieces in their own image, resulting in a uniquely Chinese interpretation that persists to this day in a well-known atelier whose principal is the descendant of one of the original enamel artisans. This family-owned atelier is allegedly sub-contracted by several prominent Swiss firms to produce enamel dials for them.

It seems that the Chinese have an especial appreciation for the art of enamelling, as it parallels similar Chinese arts such as porcelain painting and firing. Perhaps it is an opportune time for an article entitled "Vacheron & Constantin and the Middle Kingdom", since China has been proclaimed to be the most important market for watches in the world.
Re: Vacheron & China
10/16/2012 - 14:55
I had wondered that myself.  I noticed this forum has a facility to convert to Chinese and presumably that says something about the relevance of that market , either now or potentially.
Brent we have a Chinese version of the Lounge but don't understand
10/16/2012 - 19:26
when you say " this forum has a facility to convert to Chinese"
Re: Brent we have a Chinese version of the Lounge but don't understand
10/17/2012 - 01:56
Badly worded on my part Alex -  I'd noted the Chinese symbols in the top right corner and assumed it was to translate the forum into Chinese and/or allow Chinese people to participate.  I didn't realise it was a whole different forum. Hope that made more sense smiley
Vacheron first entered China in 1845 and created
10/16/2012 - 19:25
specific timepieces for that market, the Chinese at the time likes pocket watches with enameled casebacks and bought them in pairs the pictures mirroring each other. As to why VC is so big in China, maybe a Chinese Lounger would have a better answer but one reason may be that VC reentered the Chinese market close to 20 years ago before the market became so big and thus the brand name is familiar to the collectors. Furthermore my understanding is that VC's long history is also extremely important to the local collectors.
Chinese-market Mercators
10/17/2012 - 18:58
Antiquorum photo 1996 Chinese Zodiac Mercator. Another featuring Taiwan from 1995. A scarce Chinese-market edition is this Zheng He Metiers d’Art from 2005. All photos from Antiquorum
Osvaldo Patrizzi responds
10/20/2012 - 02:39
indirectly, that is.  In a monograph titled "Geneva Enamels" printed in Vox Magazine, he made some interestsing comments that address your question: