A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

Earlier I posted several historic addresses I wished to visit in Geneva, based on descriptions from the Annales de la Maison d'Horlogerie Vacheron & Constantin: click here to see this post.  I'm happy to say the mission was accomplished with some surprising results!  Please follow along...

1755: Jean-Marc Vacheron opens a workshop in the Cité.  This refers to the Old City of Geneva which occupied the south bank where the river Rhône emptied into Lac Léman.  While no exact location of J-M's workshop is known, it may help to visualize that the spiritual center of the Old City was the Cathedrale Saint-Pierre, who's spire acts as a beacon for miles around.  To underscore it's historic roots, a pre-Christian Chieftan's burial site has been excavated under the church's foundations and may be toured.  It's a most worthwhile place to begin...

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

1812: Vacheron Girod takes premises in the Maison Favre, 226 rue de l'Ile.  While that street name no longer exists, not even in my 1905 Baedeker's map, the name suggests it was either on the Island or an approach road to the Island.  This may be the earliest date that Vacheron occupied premises on l'Ile.

1816: Vacheron Chossat occupies the Maison Tremblay at 88 rue de la Rhône.  This locale is again on the south bank, running southeast from Place Bel-Air.  Our sleuthing led to the modern-day site.

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

The very location occupied in 1816 is now home to a high-rise building with a jewelery store on the main floor.  But wait...across the street...

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

Yes, there is still a presence!  Next to the host hotel, in fact.  We strolled over to visit and found five diligent employees who seems slightly alarmed at our presence.  I must have been a spectacle waving around old maps and papers blush

1834: Workshops were installed on the 3rd floor of a building situated at l'angle des Bergues.  In 1835, they expanded to the fourth floor and in 1839 Georges-Auguste Leschot began development of his revolutionary machinery on these very premises.  This description is a bit vague, referencing only the corner at the Bergues.  Today this may suggest a few locations; perhaps where the Quai des Bergues meets the Pont des Bergues on the north bank, or some locale bordering the Place des Bergues next to the Four Seasons Hotel.

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva


A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

In 1840, additional space was rented on the 5th floor at 11 rue Berthelier.  While this street no longer exists, research indicates it was bordering onto Place des Bergues, which would have made it convenient to the main shops.

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

1844: A historic date, when Vacheron & Constantin finally takes up residence in the former prison tower on the Island, famously known to us as the Tour de l'Ile.  The workshops were installed on the 3rd floor and a wooden staircase was constructed on the outside to gain access.

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

On October 7, 1846, during the Sonderbundskrieg (civil war) an errant canon shot was fired from the passage de la Monnnaie, across the Place Bel-Air, and crashed through the second floor wall.  You may just see the old repairs!

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

Coincidentally, the statue erected here is for Philibert Berthelier, who was the last person executed at the Tower in 1519, for leading an independence movement against the Duke of Savoy.

Vacheron & Constantin were permitted to add additional workspace in 1852, which fulfilled their needs until 1875.  At this time, a new building specially constructed for the Manufacture was finished across the road at 1 Quai des Moulins, where they still lease space today, albeit with the mailing address of 7 Quai de l'Ile, on the other side of the block.

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

Georges-Auguste Leschot is rightfully held in great esteem here and we were pleased to go a bit out of our way to find the street bearing his name, located a block east of the Plainpalais between Rue de Carouge and Place des Philosophes.

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

One other site required pilgrimage; 2 Place des Alpes:

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva

At this location the outstanding watchmaker Louis-Benjamin Audemars opened his first retail shop in 1875 heart.

I hope you've enjoyed this tour of past and present.  One thing that puzzles me after our adventure are the ads that greeted our arrival at the Geneva Airport, and seemed to mock us on departure...

A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva



02/05/2013 - 18:39
02/06/2013 - 02:41
02/05/2013 - 21:50
02/06/2013 - 10:58
Re: A V&C Walking Tour of Geneva
02/05/2013 - 09:53
Thank you for taking us there and what a tour!
Sherlock Holmes or mr. Bond? A bit of both. Thank you for this
02/05/2013 - 11:07
walk into VCs history and foundations
thank you for a thrilling tour! NT
02/05/2013 - 13:03
nt
your tour perfectly complements this superb limited edition book given
02/05/2013 - 15:39
as a gift my Mr Tick-Talk to the Club members in Geneva for SIHH yes
There was an element of Bond in this adventure...
02/05/2013 - 18:11
seems cameras make the staff of watch and jewelery shops very nervous.  While taking a photo of the Rue de la Monnaie, I found myself confronted by two plain-clothes security guards from the Jaeger-LeCoultre Boutique.  Again with much waiving of old maps and papers, I managed to convince them I was just an eccentric tourist angel. I felt more in the role of David Niven in The Pink Panther when we next visited the VC Boutique.  The diamond heist was also set in Switzerland and I could imagine myself as The Phantom with all those suspicious eyes following our every move, accompanied by awkward conversation and nervous laughter.  After a few minutes reconnoitering the joint, we skulked out leaving behind only a glove...
looks like Riga
02/05/2013 - 18:39
:)
Is that a good thing? nt
02/06/2013 - 02:41
nt
I've joined you in my bedroom slippers...
02/05/2013 - 20:36
Dean, I caught-up with you this morning in the comfort of my home. Before starting the journey a large cup of coffee plus a chosen tad of brandy was called for just to make sure that I kept-up to speed!smiley. I followed your shadow supported with knowledgeable information and some pretty good Canon shots.....somewhere along the circuit I did wonder where you stumbled across Alex?... Your research, before leaving home, didn't come in a short measure and that is evident throughout. yes. Thank you for allowing us to join you. Much appreciated! Tony
Thank you
02/05/2013 - 21:50
Having not been to Geneva I thoroughly enjoyed your tour. Thanks for taking the time and effort to allow me to enjoy a little holiday while sitting in my lounge room in Sydney!!!
Thanks for the Tour!
02/06/2013 - 10:58
Hi Dean, Many thanks for the delightful tour...I hope I am able to retrace your steps one day... Best regards JAMES
What I miss from our visit to Switzerland
02/07/2013 - 02:37
are the clock towers that ring the hour and half-hour in big cities and small towns alike.  Easy to imagine life centuries ago, before personal watches and home clocks, when the pace of life was goverened by the ubiquitous clanging.  Don't know if this was typical, but in Wengen we were treated to a 5-minute carillon every day at 4 o'clock sharp.
You really got some great shots of the clock towers, one
02/07/2013 - 12:43
of my personal favorites too! The sun dial photograph is a true classic. Thanks again for the book and the personal note. Best to all, Tim
Referring to the Zytglogge, Tim?
02/08/2013 - 00:52
nt
Yes. Do you know a watch that paid homage
02/08/2013 - 01:03
to this wonderful time telling art? Hint, it's on a VC. Best, Tim
Please tell which VC, and also...
02/08/2013 - 01:33
can you share your enthusiasm for the clock by posting a brief description of it's astronomical functions?  Pretty please yes
L’ESPRIT DES CABINOTIERS!!
02/08/2013 - 01:43
OK, I figured it out after awhile, but still will you indulge me the favor?
the Switzerland of postcards :-)
02/07/2013 - 14:18
r
More Swiss Postcards...
02/08/2013 - 18:38
Here are some fun shots laugh.  Too many for individual download, so this is a link to my host server:Tick Talk's Swiss Postcards
A further collection of pleasant memories...
02/07/2013 - 20:55
Nice photographs, Dean. yes It's beginning to look as though you didn't waste a second on this trip! Of all the clock towers visited is there one that you particularly favoured? Thanks again Tony
Zytglogge in Bern
02/08/2013 - 01:31
Tony, certainly the most interesting and even spectacular clock was the ancient Zytglogge in Bern.  The tower itself dates from 1220 and began, similar to the Tour de l'Ile, as an entrance gate to the city then a prison.  Although the two bronze bells at top with, gilt wooden man striking them with a hammer, were installed in 1405, the present look with a remarkable astronomical clock and animated scene were added around 1600. The animation is very intricate and entertaining  About 3 minutes before the hour strikes, a rooster crows to announce the upcoming time change.  Then a troupe/troop of bears dressed as a town guards (the bear is official symbol of Bern) make their hourly rounds, which was quite amusing to the local folks as the foolish officials are early! After the bears are finished, the rooster crows for the second time.  A figure on a throne holding an hourglass represents Chronos, God of Time.  He raises his scepter to command the bells to strike.  The bell ringer high in the tower swings his hammer in time with the scepter while Chronos opens his mouth as if counting.  Finally the rooster crows a third and final time to welcome the new hour cheeky
A spectacular sight...
02/08/2013 - 18:13
Dean, Thank you for the information concerning the Zytglogge in Bern. You sowed the seed perfectly! I just had to find out more information and in that respect I found the Wikipedia site an excellent source. A visit to Geneva next year is a consideration; you've helped to consolidate my thoughts in that connection. I owe you a round of drinkssmiley!! Regards, Tony  
Beware of Wikipedia errors Tony
02/08/2013 - 18:45
Their entry on the clock has glaring errors in the section, "Bells and Bell Striker".  The author seems to have merged the stories of the top bell-striker and lower animated scene into one artifact.  If you don't mind translating from the German, the Bern city website has a better description enlightened
Appreciate your advice, Dean...
02/08/2013 - 22:00
I've turned my attention to the Bern City website as suggested. Totally agree with your findings!yes. I reckon this could amount to two rounds of drinks!frown. Appreciate your interest, help and advice. Tony
Update on Manufacture's location 1816
11/27/2014 - 17:58

Those wishing to follow this pilgramage will benefit from an 1884 historical footnote that mentions the maison Trembley, which Vacheron Chossat occupied in 1816, was demolished sometime after 1860 and the street renumbered.  Today the location will actually be rue du Rhone 46, which is mid-block instead of the corner and now occupied by an office building with ground-floor retail.