VC Policies in Support of Vintage Watches?

My apologies to Doc for inserting a side-issue into his earlier thread.  The question of official support for vintage watches really deserves an answer though, so here are some questions posed to VC management through the good graces of our moderator:

What are the current official polices regarding vintage watches?
  
Is their a guiding mission statement for the Patrimony Department?
  
Is there a way for us "shareholders" in V&C to be represented during the development of policies affecting vintage?

I'd like to repeat the earlier suggestions on how VC might better support their vintage market and invite a reply:
1. better archival documentation
2. affordable authentication process
3. reasonable service costs
4. aggressive trademark action against fakes and frankens
5. parts available to independent repair facilities
what are you trying to obtain? You want VC to charge less for
04/14/2011 - 22:51
servicing to make it easier on our wallets? I'm sorry but I think its a bit pretentious to want to dictate VC's vintage policy
A Vintage Ambassador
04/15/2011 - 03:49
Presumptuous possibly, but pretentious? Now that hurts! Heck, I can take a bit of name calling, but challenging my right to even ask the question is harsh. This isn’t politics or religion after all; we should be free to discuss all things Vacheron. I’m disappointed that my original post was so poorly worded for you to focus on the one issue of costs. Chronometer, do you have opinions on the other ideas? When you have a moment, please review an earlier post which I found inspiring:"What makes a brand powerful is not its size but its community". I did not take from this discussion that we are to be obsequious, nor do I feel that taking a challenging position should be considered akin to farting in someone else’s living room! I would like to add to the original list a suggestion that VC consider appointing a Vintage Ambassador. Someone with the knowledge, credibility and sagacity to gather input and represent the “shareholders” of vintage V&C; that is, those who are enthusiastic about the brand’s history and collect vintage pieces. I would like to nominate Mats aka Doc for the position, but that would be presumptuous!
didn't mean to be harsh or insulting so apologies. But the tone of
04/15/2011 - 18:48
your post - at least the way I felt it - seemed aggressive and making your point of view seem as the Community's. I don't have the same knowledge and passion doe vintage VC as you and others have but at one point its like beating a dead horse. OK vintage VC prices are low but the day they hit PP prices the same who were ranting about these low prices will start ranting about high prices making the purchase of vintage too expensive. just my 2c
Re: VC Policies in Support of Vintage Watches?
04/15/2011 - 05:36
Hi Dean, I've been extremely busy working on a project the past couple of months...still not finished yet, but enough time to breath and catch up on THL.  Out of the 5 areas you mentioned, I personally think 2 are more readily feasible, while the others would be more difficult from a business point of view.1. better archival documentation (I would really love this, information is power and there is so much that I'm sure would fascinate all watch fans).  2. affordable authentication process  (Unless they start offering something like PP's "Extract from the Archives", I don't think this will happen) 3. reasonable service costs (as a consumer, lower is better - but I don't know how costs are calculated or how they compare with the rest of the high-end watch industry) 4. aggressive trademark action against fakes and frankens (Hopefully, this would be very helpful in weeding out the most obvious offenders, I don't know what resources are required to aggressively protect trademarks,  the lawyers among us would have a much better understading.  I would think this is something that VC would want to protect, as with any luxury brand - your name is all so important) 5. parts available to independent repair facilities (I don't know if this is possible for vintage pieces, say pre-1960, as I don't have any idea how large the existing stock is and how spare parts are still being produced.  Also, would this provide an opportunity to create/foster some fakes and frankens?  I'm sure the business issue of not wanting others to get into the business of 3rd party repair is also a consideration.) You bring up some good questions Dean,  as we know VC will not participate in the vintage/auction market.  But how much are they, as a firm, willing to support vintage as a way to maintain the firm's reputation and image may not be clear...and I'm sure everybody has an opinion on it. Best Regards, Dan
Thanks for your thoughtful replies Dan :-)
04/15/2011 - 19:54
Glad to have you back, and thanks for adding to the discussion .
Publications
04/16/2011 - 23:07
I think servicing considering the quality of the job done is really ok, archiving job must be also a huge amount and I am pretty sure it is well done. What lack imho is the "marketing" of all that, maybe a lack of communication on this precise point. What would really be a real plus is an encyclopedia of the Vacheron Production. Model/references/caliber/quantity produced/notes. First for wristwatches (less complicated) and then for pocket watches which will ask some years. This has to be an intern job imho, something "official" . There are always uncertainties and this not an easy job. It would help considerably: -the collectors, VC but also, and I would add especially, non VC. -the professional collectors dealers -the image of the Brand, establishing a bit more the long ininterrputed tradition. Even if I hate that word everyone is sensitive to "investment". I hope "charlie" could be sensitive to these points. Right now if you are curious about Vacheron what is available? The 250 years of VC from Cologni and Flechon. Interesting on the brand but not giving the overview a collector would like to have. Vacheron is very interested and respectful of his patrimony, through the product, "les Historiques" line is unique, through the references, that's for sure. A bit more materials for the collectors would help. The collectors will give it back to the brand ;) But for the moment vintage remain "cheap", good news for collectors actually. Cheers Francois
Answers
04/15/2011 - 19:23

Reply from Julien Marchenor head of Vacheron Constantin Hertitage Department: What are the current official polices regarding vintage watches? Vacheron Contantin undertakes to service and restore all watches that it has ever made from 1755 til now. Regarding the vintage auction market we do not wish to artificially increase prices. We can buy pieces which we find interesting for our private collection but never with the intention manipulating the market. Furthermore, we offer support to auction houses by supplying Certificates of Authenticity and dates of production when requested, we also monitor these sales and indicate to the auction house when we believe that the watch is not correct (ie case and movement numbers do not match) however we can not oblige them to disclose this information or to remove the lot from the sale. We are extremely proud of our history and the path we have chosen is to present this history and its richness via exhibitions at the Maison Vacheron Constantin or travelling exhibitions. The first major one is to take place in Singapore starting June 24 with 180 pieces. Is their a guiding mission statement for the Patrimony Department? The Patrimony department which is composed of 5 people has a role of studying the archival papers (over 40 cubic meters of archives), doing research and to fine tune the knowledge the brand can have on its history. They are also in charge of emitting Certificates of Authenticity, supplying support to the restoration department and generally all that is necessary to organise exhibitions, supply information and enrich our collection of watches, tools and machinery. Is there a way for us "shareholders" in V&C to be represented during the development of policies affecting vintage? We are of course open to suggestions and listen to our enthusiasts (please see my answer below on the more affordable certification proccess) but at the time being our policies will be decided upon internally. 1. better archival documentation : we have all our archives starting the early 18th century and are trying to go back as much as possible 2. affordable authentication process : we are currently working on an extract from the archives which will be more affordable than the current Certificate of Authenticity. However this will only indicate that a specific watch with corresponding case and movement numbers were made but in no way certify that the watch the extract has been given for is genuine. 3. reasonable service costs: service costs are variable depending on age and condition of a timepiece and the time needed to service. It is also important to note that the watchmakers working on vintage have had a long apprenticeship and years of experience..which comes at a cost.  4. aggressive trademark action against fakes and frankens : we monitor sales and indicate when we believe that a watch is a "franken". Fakes are easy to deal with Frankens much less and there is a legal void regarding the latter. 5. parts available to independent repair facilities: this is our internal policy

Great to know!
04/15/2011 - 20:10
Please pass on my most sincere appreciation to Julien Marchenor for taking the time to respond.  The first paragraph was very insightful regarding VC's position.  That an Extract from the Archives is in the making is great news and a key strategic step to clean-up the marketplace.  If it is both affordable and accessable, buyers will expect the document (as with many PPs) and this alone will help stem the numbers of VC fakes/frankens I'm sure .   Can you clarify the response to #5?  Can an independent watchmaker obtain factory parts?  I've heard so much conflicting info, including a local watchmaker who scrapped a 70s vintage ladies VC because he told me he couldn't get the part.  Well, actually he converted it to quartz . As far as enthusiast representation, may I just ask that the concept of a Vintage Ambassador be carried forward for consideration at some time in the future?  It would be a nice reversal of the usual Brand Ambassador marketing concept.