The oldest manufacturer of fine watches – since 1755 – and today renowned for creating the world’s most complicated timepiece. Indeed, in 2015, for the Manufacture’s 260th Anniversary year, Vacheron Constantin revealed the world’s most complicated mechanical watch, named reference 57260. It took three watchmakers eight years to build the 57-complication marvel at the request of a client. In the Bloomberg.com interview about this grand complication, Vacheron Constantin would not disclose the exact price of this watch but did confirm that the price was between $8 million and $20 million U.S. dollars that had been estimated on various internet sites. We met Alexander Schmiedt, VC’s Regional Brand Director.
You have been present at each of the three editions of the Salon. Who is it attracting, how does Vacheron Constantin benefit from being here?
It’s essential that we are here. Since our foundation we have been the master of complications. It’s the only show in the region that focuses on this narrow sector of the market, it attracts true watch aficionados. This is our natural home. People come and share and appreciate the quality here. Assembled here is the very best of fine watchmaking.
Which are your key pieces for this year’s Salon? Which is the highlight?
We have brought a small number of very special pieces. It’s a hard choice to know what to bring. If I had to choose one to highlight above others, for me it would be the new Traditionelle Chronograph Perpetual Calendar. We first presented this just two months ago. It combines the essence of Vacheron. A high complication, a combination of two of the most complex complications that you can imagine – the perpetual calendar and the chrono – a wonderful expression of complexity and classicism.
But each of our pieces shows a different strength of Vacheron. We possess the traditional competence of fine watchmaking – the movement finishing – but we also have the métier d’art of the house. Our uniqueness is delivered through our combination of fine watchmaking with the metier d’art. We have a gem-setter who specializes only in watches – gem-setting for jewelry is very different. Every timepiece we produce is the result of more than two and a half centuries of progression.
The 57260 is a most remarkable piece.
It is. It combines three of our most important strengths. The first is our mastery of complications and understanding the tradition. Secondly, and importantly – because tradition is only one side of the coin – is innovation. Remember, the tradition of today is the innovation of the past. Only the best things become tradition. We have been reinventing ourselves for 261 years now – but in a unique way that respects tradition. The third, and a key strength, are those pieces that are ‘made-to-order’ for each client. We have a department conceived entirely to fulfil these orders. Indeed, the Caliber 57 was made to order following the request of a client.
How difficult is it to recruit people skilled enough to make your timepieces?
On one hand we’ve always maintained traditions, skills and always handed them on to the next generation. Essentially, forming the next generation from within is how we do this. On the other hand, we also attract the finest craftsmen from outside because we offer them something that they can rarely find anywhere else. For example, one of the highlights of our company is the restoration atelier. We have 20 watchmakers who do nothing else other than restore watches we receive in from our clients – and these are watches dating back to the beginning of the company. A service like this is something that very few brands can offer – and equally very few people have the skills to work on this. The restorers are usually the very best watchmakers – we are one of few places they can practice their art.
How is your business in Kuwait?
Right now Kuwait is very good for us. The general effects of the economy in the region influences our outlook a little, but we’re focusing on increasing our visibility and this has helped us develop. The environment isn’t easy, but we’re cautiously happy for the future.
Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time
Tagged as ‘an ideal travel companion’ by this famous watchmaker, this particular piece has the world at your wrist. The watch has a center that features a ‘Lambert’ projection map depicting the continents (enhanced by a sunburst satin- brushed finish) and the oceans (in a velvet finish), along with a translucent lacquered disc bearing the city names.
A third sapphire disc is laid over the map that provides day/ night indications by means of subtly graded smoky tints, synchronized with the 24-hour disc. Finally, a translucent lacquered velvet-finished outer ring serves to indicate the hours and minutes.
The case of the new Vacheron Constantin Overseas World Time is 43.5 mm in diameter by 12.6 mm thick. It is water resistant to 150 meters, and even features a soft-iron anti- magnetic ring.
Caliber 2460WT is self-winding, and the rotor is made of 22k rose gold. In its entirety, this beautiful piece is made in-house by Vacheron Constantin. The 36.6 caliber offers 40-hours of power reserve, beating at 4 Hz, with 255 components.
The whole watch, inside and out, is just beautifully finished, and is Geneva hallmark certified.