Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH

About two and a half years ago, I went on the Time Zone to Switzerland. One of the Manufactures we went to was Vacheron Constantin. We visited several departments at that time including the finishing and assembly divisions. So it was with great delight that I heard about the trip to the factory during the SIHH visit.
We were picked up the the hotel in a private van and 15 minutes later we pulled into Vacheron's driveway.
We were met in the magnificent lobby by Monsieur Himer, who became our guide. He certainly knows a lot about watches!
Seeing all the hand work in the finishing and assembly really emphasized the fantastic quality control on these timepieces and why they are so expensive.
Below you will see some really amazing workmanship.


Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH

A very tiny part getting some final polishing.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
You can see the part if you look through this gentleman's glasses.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
I believe this VC's 1400 movement, incomplete.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
Hand polishing and beveling of the toubillon bridge.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
The bridge, (half completed) before and after. Notice the cylindrical shape in the finished bridge and the tapering.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
Hand skeletonisation.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
More hand assembly on the plate (I believe the 4400)

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
A box full of plastic-encased movements, all working. Some have been removed for viewing. The format allows visualisation of front, back and sides.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
The 4400 with beautiful Geneva stripes and perlage.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
A skeletonized movement nearing completion.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
More work on the 4400.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
Preparing and evaluting the toubillon...

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
Radek: " Uh, Alex! You know that candy you just ate... That was the tourbillon plate.
Alex: GULP!! No wonder it had a metallic taste. Anyone got a feather?!

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
Preparing and evaluting the toubillon...

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
An example of the enameler's work. This is a very difficult, time consuming metier in which experience and knowledge count for so much. But even so, the outcomes are sometimes subject to the whims of the watch gods.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
Guillochage by the Master Supachai Wattankanokthan.

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
All smiles!  Alex, Radek and our guide, Monsieur Himer

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH

Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
Thanks Joseph for sharing these amazing photos.
01/30/2009 - 10:02
Good thing that Radek didn't have to give Alex the Heimlich Maneuver. Cheers, Duncan
GREAT STUFF, Joseph! Thank you (nt)
01/30/2009 - 10:41
thanks for the amazing job Joseph (nt)
01/30/2009 - 11:50
e
Re: Visit to the Vacheron Manufacture during SIHH
01/30/2009 - 12:06
Dear JB, Thank you for a very nice post on the finer points of watchmaking...I have found it very educational and a delight to admire the techniques used ... Lovely photographs! Best regards JAMES
thanks JB, the scan of the tourbillon bridge speaks millions of the
01/30/2009 - 13:10
handwork!
Very good shots of different parts of the manufacture in Geneva
01/30/2009 - 14:09
Tahnk you for sharing all. Best, Patrice
Wow!
01/31/2009 - 09:38
Great report and photos -- I particularly liked the shots of the very delicate skeleton work. Thanks again. Best, Gary
I agree with everyone...Gr8 stuffs here, thanks JB! (nt)
02/02/2009 - 03:45
.
I'm speechless Joseph..........
02/02/2009 - 04:06
Thank you for those amazing Photos!  You must've been very busy this weekend! Best regards, Tom
Thanks for the great report Joseph, great pictures and enjoyed the
02/02/2009 - 07:20
humor. There are many fine pictures but the last one is somehow hypnotic--great work. Thanks again, Tim