Vacheron Constantin & Chinese Patrons 1755-1900

The title might be misleading as what I really want to know is the VCs sold to China during 1755 you have any records? Please kindly will take time to trace something in time but I have a lot of patience when it comes to Vacheron Constantin : )
The Chinese market opened up in 1842 after the
01/31/2013 - 13:03
Nankin treaty and VC entered the market in 1845 and a year later sent 33 pair of watches to Canton (the Chinese at the time liked having pocket watches in pairs where the enamel painting on the cover mirrored each other- a horological yin / yang in a way). We have records of that time of what was sent to China but few photos of the pieces. hereunder a drawing of a dial with Chinese characters from 1846 but Idon't know if it was just a test or actually made. Even though the watch hereunder was made after 1900 (made in 1909) it is an interesting watch in shape of a beatle made for the Chinese market
what is written on the dial?
01/31/2013 - 17:18
Re: what is written on the dial?
01/31/2013 - 17:54
Hours of the day in ancient Chinese...
Thanks KL!
01/31/2013 - 20:19
Hi KL, thanks for: 1.  Asking this question yes 2. Having a much better understanding of ancient Chinese than me. smiley BR, Dan
How to read time...
02/01/2013 - 11:44
Hi Daniel, I looked at the drawing of the dial for a while but I haven't figured out what time it is??!! Under the crown, there should be 12am+pm but then it's as if we are looking at the dial from an open back...because the hour characters also indicate directions...the "cut" of the hours are also mysterious to me: some 3hrs are in half; some seem to be 1/3; one set of 3hrs are in 3portions (evenly?) - how can we read 22.5 minutes on a dial without the second hand? And we are (reasonably) assuming the two hands are indicating hour and minute... Monsieur God Father might actually throw a very intriguing game... Alex, if you have the direct answer, please brain hurts;) and you know I don't know as much about watches as you all, it took me over a minute to read an Urwerk at the first time : D
in fact I was counting on you to explain how this works :-)
02/01/2013 - 12:18
BTW love your saying!!! :-)
02/01/2013 - 12:18
Re: BTW love your saying!!! :-)
02/03/2013 - 05:22
BTW, the time might be 08:45 or 20:45. It seems they still wanted to keep the "smile" - never forget your explanation on 10:10 :)
Re: in fact I was counting on you to explain how this works :-)
02/03/2013 - 03:19
Oh god, time will tell's not a precise answer and I'm not sure this will be acceptable in the world of time-telling, but it's the weekend and CNY is near, let's be happy and time will be told on that mysterious VC dial... I wish it's as simple as that 43mm MODERN Patrimony! It reads a happy 10:10, no mystery, how nice : )
Re: How to read time...
02/03/2013 - 03:04
Apologies and correction: 3hours in 8portions ( evenly) I read on one part of the dial - that's how I obtained 22.5minutes each but then how can we tell with just two hands, without the second hand - I mean the hand indicating seconds?
Re: The Chinese market opened up in 1842 after the
01/31/2013 - 17:51
Wow!!! Thank you Alex!!! So very interesting details! This thread brings us back in time...I'm not so sure whether Canton was the only Chinese port for foreign trade but it's certainly the most important one for watches according to the little I read in the forbidden city...and the buyer behavior then " horological Yin Yang" ~ what a summary by Monsieur God Father :) The Beatle is so beautiful, hmm, and the 12 is red, like that in the limited edition of Chromometre Royal ~ I personally think all black numbers suit the 2007 dial better : )
The characters look like part of an ancient astorlogical instrument
01/31/2013 - 20:04
I will look more into it and try to provide a some info. But that beatle, WOW!  If it was made would defintely be a part of the MÉTIERS D’ART collection.  Perhaps it is a precursor to MDA? enlightened (BTW, as part of the losing side of the First Opium War, that resulted in the 1842 Treaty of Nanking.  We won't go into too much detail,  blush .  But since VC and Switzerland were not involved, so we'll let them slide cool)
My understanding of the Ancient Chinese Dial
02/01/2013 - 21:47
I did some searching and found this information about the interesting drawing of a Chinese dial in VC archives that Alex has shown us. In the past, the common/standard of Chinese unit of time measurement was the "时辰" (pronounced "shi chen").  The unit conversion is 1 "shi chen" = 2 hours.  Instead of using numbers, each  of the 12 "shi chen" that make up a day (24 hours) has a unique name. I have added numbers to the dial, and rotated it so the pendant is at the top.  This is what it looks like. What I do not know, like KL, is how this is read.  I believe one full revolution of one of the hands, would make the other hand go from one "shi chen" indicator marker to the next one.  I think the large and small hands are "reversed" in terms of what they are indicating when compared to a "standard" watch that we are all accustomed. i.e.,  It takes one full revolution of the small hand to make tha large hand move from one "shi chen" to the next.  - If I read it this way, the time would be1/8 of the way to 子, or 1/8.
Re: My understanding of the Ancient Chinese Dial
02/03/2013 - 05:01
Thank you so much Dan! Now every line on the dial makes sense! We must always trust VC's watchmakers on precision of time: ) Every modern hour is indicated either by characters or by longer straight lines; as you rightly pointed out ( my miscalculation in a previous reply), two hours ( not 3!!!) are between every two rows of characters so the little straight lines cut them evenly into 15mins each ( a proper time unit in ancient china as well, to be exact: 14.24minutes) . However, whoever made that pocket watch invented American21, why: he ( or she, how I wish!!:) knew everything about time but put the crown on top of 11:00 and 23:00 instead, so tilt it a little, it might be correct et a la mode actually! Modern Chinese often take "wu" for granted as "noon" but the character has a slight variant before 1920 ;) How the jump happened between two hands is a mechanical one, you Gentlemen must know more than I do...I guess the answer hid in the short straight lines of the outer circle.
it appears in VC books that a certain number of watches were in fact
02/01/2013 - 15:59
sent to port cities where obviously the watches were taken by travelling salesmen who may have sold VC watches to the Middle Empire even before the Nanjing Treaty
Re: it appears in VC books that a certain number of watches were in fact
02/03/2013 - 05:14
Smart men, avoiding customs already!
Re: Vacheron Constantin & Chinese Patrons 1755-1900
05/24/2016 - 16:22

hello, I am David Chang from Beijing, in fact I already wrote a article about this theme.

Hello David, good to see you here!
05/24/2016 - 17:24

I know you wrote an article about the history between VC and China 10 years ago for a VC published magazine in Chinese.  

10 years have past and it would be interesting to see if there is any new information about this topic that can be used for an updated article.  Hopefully VC is willing to work with you on this.

BR, Dan

Re: Hello David, good to see you here!
05/26/2016 - 05:44

thank you Dan, I think 170 years is very important for us about VC and China. I want to write the new article for all collectors.