A V&C by any other name


…would be as sweet!  Apologies to the Bard for borrowing his famous line from Romeo & Juliet, but the sentiment fits so well.  In actuality, Juliet spoke thusly; What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Juliet was attempting to persuade her lover that, no matter the feud between their families, his surname was not a barrier to her love.  The love I now apply these words to is, of course, for Vacheron et Constantin.  But, of what “other name” do I speak?

To give satisfaction to this question too quickly would deprive us both of a wonderful story.  So patience, while I direct you to the Art of Vacheron Constantin auction catalog from 1994.  There you will find lot 31, an astonishing minute repeating Grande and Petite sonnerie dual-train pocket watch with Silent/Strike mechanism.  The description indicates this “extremely rare” piece, movement nr.344348, was completed in 1908 on special order for the V&C agent in Rome, and a footnote suggest that another similar watch circa 1930 was featured in The World of Vacheron Constantin*.


Today, this superb timepiece resides in the Maison’s collection and was showcased in Cologni’s Secrets of Vacheron Constantin on page 225.


Vacheronistas with vintage inclinations will no doubt comment on the movement’s unusual design; certainly not the ubiquitous Vacheron Calibre.  Those who have ventured to study other haute horlogerie brands from the past may experience a sense of familiarity for its freeform, somewhat amoebic architecture.

Thankfully Antiquorum took the rather unusual step of photographing this rather unusual watch in a state of partial disassembly, for it revealed a secondary serial number engraved on the repeater works; 8625.


The design and secondary number were sufficient to encourage a growing suspicion, supported by the production ledgers of a renowned Swiss complications specialist; Louis Audemars of Brassus.


Descendant Paul Audemars (author of L'Histoire de Louis Audemars & Cie, which was published in conjunction with an exhibition of the maker in Le Sentier this Spring) indicated that movement 8625 was inventoried as a “work in progress” at their Geneva shop in June of 1880.  Here, I speculate, the ebauche was handed over to V&C; perhaps prior to the unfortunate bankruptcy of Louis-Benjamin Audemars in 1885, or even as a result of.  How, you may ask, can I connect these four digits to that maker?  I will ask for your participation in viewing these other Louis Audemars dual-train repeater movements so you may draw your own conclusions.



I will even suggest this watch was not the only involvement of Louis Audemars with Vacheron Constantin.


The foundations of Swiss watchmaking excellence were built upon collaborations between specialists and are an endless source of fascination for the cognoscenti.  Search the archives for other examples - the jump hours specialist Robert Cart, the chronograph specialist Victorin Piguet, to name a few.  The Bard was right; a V&C by any other name would be as sweet!

*Perhaps they were referring to photo reference 3640 on page 405.

I hope you enjoyed this brief adventure.  Mrs TT and I will leave in a few days for our own adventure in the Kingdom of Bhutan.  We will return in early November so until then, be well my friends smiley

A good story, and very artfully told
09/17/2014 - 00:46

I hope you and Mrs. TT (or do you affectionately refer to her as Mrs. Ampersand?) have a great trip to Bhutan.  Enjoy.

This puts me in mind of another great quote of Shakespeare's, which speaks to the very nature of this forum.

"Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven."

Thank you, as always, for putting a bit more wind beneath all of our wings.

Wonderful quote from Henry VI
09/17/2014 - 02:47

and I must complete the next line as well: "unless you be possesed with devilish spirits" devil.  Thanks so much for your kind comments and perceptive quotation.  Indeed, the remedy for ignorant belief is knowledge.  Your reference to wind also conjurs up a favorite movie; A Mighty Wind!

Or Bette Midler blush.

I always enjoy reading your finds! It's amazing how well you do this :-) Enjoy your
09/17/2014 - 12:38

trip, all my best to Mrs TT and really looking forward to your photos

Dude, you are my mentor :-)
09/17/2014 - 18:53

Thank-you for providing and encouraging story-crafting; so much a part of this forum as often mentioned.  Re photos, see my reply to Robert and be afraid angel.

What a great article, Thanks Dean.
09/17/2014 - 14:18

As always you have digged deep in to the history of Vacheron & Constantin. I have a question that you might have an opinion on. It is regarding this watch. Please see the photos. Could this also be a movement from Louis Audemars? The photos are taken by Jptimepieces.  







I have enclosed this article from Klassik Uhren for those who are able to read and understand a bit of German since I believe it might be relevant to Dean's article. 






































Thanks for this, Kent :-)
09/17/2014 - 18:41

Great article and thanks for taking up the discussion yes.  Pg. 15 illustrates the watch and attributes the movement to Audemars Piguet and Victorin Piguet.  AP founder Jules-Louis Audemars was a cousin to Louis Audemars and came to watchmaking later in the timeline, in 1875.  I wonder if AP picked up some of the remaining stocks of Louis Audemars complications-in-progress following their 1885 bankruptcy, perhaps even tooling.  As you know, family connections played an important role in business relationships amongst the Swiss makers, so it comes as no surprise to review this list of Louis Audemars relations through birth and marriage: LeCoultre, Golay, Jaccard, Meylan, Piguet, and others I'm sure to have missed.  May I ask, as I am not at all proficient in German, what are your conclusions having reviewed the article?

Back to your first question regarding the V&C center-seconds chronograph.  LOL, I had to think a minute about whether to even call it a chronograph as it lacks the mechanism but mimics the result by having control of seconds through an independent power train.  Look at the watch in your article on the bottom of pg. 19.  Perhaps you also recognized the circular bridges surrounding the balance assembly as characteristic of the so-called Jurgensen Calibre.  The debate still rages as to who actually manufactured that particular architecture, with the weight of argument falling squarely between Louis Audemars and Aubert Freres.  Well, you know where my opinion lies cheeky.

Thanks for your reply, Dean.
09/18/2014 - 12:19
I have tried to translate the part concerning the watch in mention. Please do remember that my german isn't very good but there is a lot of similarities to danish. Beside that I try to understand the german text in danish and then I try to translate it to english. That creates a lot of possibilities for messing up the text. Here it is: On the  13th of November 1994 Antiquorum auctioned a “Grande and Petite Sonnerie ” pocket- watch. It houses  a 23-ligne movement  from Victorin Piguet - based on an ebauche by Audemars Piguet with  35 jewels. The watch was delivered to Hausmann in Rome where it was engraved. The serial number is 344348. The original invoice still exists and the buyer was Baron Anselmo Berlingieri. The watch comes with  a certificate from Vacheron & Constantin. The watch also has a custom made mahogany box so that it can be used as a desk clock / travel clock (Fig.9). I think that the journalist have tried to do a serious article with a lot of research. I tend to believe that Klassik Uhren is the most serious magazin there is regarding vintage watches that I know of ( there might be some French or Italian magazines but they are out of reach for me because of the language). However it is written in german so I'm actually trying tro improve my german reading skills so that I can understand the articles better. They ask a lot of the same questions that I also see in your general approach towards examining a watch. Some conclusions might from time to time be wrong because new information have in the mean time occurred. But at least they try. I wish you a pleasant trip to Bhutan. All the best Kent Sorry that there is no sections in the text. The new THL site is still not working for me  sad
Very helpful, Kent
09/18/2014 - 16:51

I would only suggest, and I hope the discussion supports, that Audemars Piguet received the ebauche from Louis Audemars.  Depending on the date acquired, before or after 1885, it was either a direct purchase from Louis' shop at 2 Place des Alpes in Geneva or received as part of the liquidation following bankruptcy.

And, as you put so well, "Some conclusions might from time to time be wrong because new information have in the mean time occurred."  Perhaps that should be my new Favorite Saying enlightened.  Adios, amigo!

That was fun!
09/17/2014 - 14:32

Thanks for another terrific investigation, Dean.  I admire the way you use your library resources.  wink  My little library has grown recently, as you know, and I will try to take a lesson from you and begin diving deeper into the literature.

I wish you and Mrs. TT a safe and wonderful trip. 

All the best,


Thank-you so much Robert
09/17/2014 - 18:49

I've frightened the relations by revealing that I have enough memory and battery power for some 6,000 photos!!  Will try for more people shots, less mountains.  Hard to do in the Himilayas indecision.  Also taking a GoPro strictly for movie clips; they really are amazing little devices.  Cheers,

I'm all for mountain photos!! Counting the days until ski season
09/17/2014 - 19:03


Hi Dean. Thank you for the lovely gift before you depart on
09/17/2014 - 19:50

a great adventure. I had a very rough day yesterday and this helped sooth my brow.

Two suggestions for your walk with the Tigers. Become a vegetarian for the entire trip and look up! You will have a great time and I simply cannot wait for the pictures your artistic eye will frame. Best to you and the Mrs.



Hope to see you in January Tim
09/17/2014 - 20:50

Thanks for the advice, although I'm upset to hear of your bad day.  Please take care of yourself heart.  Bhutan is supposedly more austerely Buddhist so I'm curious to learn how they view the consumption of animals.  It is their fondness for hot chillies that has me worried surprise.

Re: A V&C by any other name
09/18/2014 - 01:03

Thanks for a fascinating report, Dean.

Very uncharacteristic bridge design for VC and the influence albeit brief of Audemars is clearly evident. A good find.

It did work the other way too. There are many watches that came out of the AP factory that had similar layouts to the classic VC design.

It seems that it's not just the roses which smell as sweet smiley

Have a great itme in Bhutan!


Speaking of sweet smells, Joseph...
09/18/2014 - 17:02

I can only shudder to think of our "sweet smells" following a month on the trail blush.  Thank goodness the Lounge is a virtual meeting place!  As you suggest, there are so many interesting collaborations between makers and it would be helpful to document the early ties between the so-called "big three" Swiss brands.  Many who today consider these companys as ardent rivals would surely be surprised at how they worked together.  An interesting modern analogy existed with the German automakers.  Porsche was threatened with foregin takeover in the late 80s, which resulted in both Audi and Mercedes giving them large projects to keep the factory going...and in German hands.

Now must print the boarding passes and weigh the luggage...you know how Air Canada is angry.  Take care Joseph

I am in awe . . .
09/18/2014 - 12:44

of your knowledge and dedication, Dean.  Your's too, Kent.  I wish I had the time and patience to do the wonderful research you do to advance our knowledge and understanding of the history of Vacheron & Constantin.  You should be featured in a book entitled "Treasures of the Hour Lounge".

Thanks you!


You are very kind Michael
09/18/2014 - 17:05

On this high note, I am signing off...&

Clearly, I've 'missed the bus!'...
09/20/2014 - 12:36

Dean, a well crafted piece of copy duly supported by painstaking research. Your commitment to share the rewards of your efforts is, as always, very much appreciated.

Whilst your adventure may have already started allow me wish you a safe journey.

I've every confidence that you'll update us upon your return - that's something I'm sure we'll all look forward to with much interest.

See you in November!

Best wishes