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Luxury Watches and Fine Watches

Geneva

18th century
Cradle of watchmaking

In 1541, Calvin’s religious reforms

turn Geneva into the “Protestant Rome” where Protestants mainly from France, Germany, Italy and parts of Switzerland seek refuge. These developments encouraged some of

Europe’s top craftsmen

to join forces and lay the foundations of what was to become the fabrique genevoise — Geneva’s horological industry.

The old neighbourhood of Saint-Gervais, circa 1750

XVIIIth century

Birth of a watchmaking company

1755

Birth year

1755

This silver pocket-watch is the earliest known by Jean-Marc Vacheron

1785

The successor: Abraham Vacheron

1790

The era of the first complications

1755

Birth year

On September 17, 1755,

24-year-old master watchmaker, Jean-Marc Vacheron, signs on his first apprentice, thus founding a business by making clear his intention to hand down his skills. This contract can therefore be regarded as Vacheron Constantin’s birth certificate, making it the oldest watch manufacturer in continuous operation since it was founded.

Apprenticeship contract
Jean-Marc Vacheron (1731-1805)

1755

This silver pocket-watch is the earliest known by
Jean-Marc Vacheron

The pride of Vacheron Constantin’s heritage, this silver watch signed J: M: Vacheron A GENEVE on the movement is the only timepiece known that identifies the company’s founder by his first name.

Fitted with a verge escapement, it features finely crafted hands in gold. The balance cock, the most visible part of the movement, also demonstrates high-grade workmanship in delicate arabesques. This two-fold technical and aesthetic standard was to gradually forge the identity of the Maison.

1785

The successor: Abraham Vacheron

In 1785, Jean-Marc Vacheron’s son, Abraham (1760-1843), takes over the workshops. He managed to keep the enterprise going despite the troubles following the French Revolution and the occupation of Geneva by the troops of the French Directory.

Following the lead given by his father, he taught the watchmaker’s trade to his son, Jacques Barthélémi Vacheron.

He managed to keep the enterprise going despite the troubles following the French Revolution…
Abraham Vacheron (1760-1843)

1790

The era of the first complications

The first known complicated movement to come out of the workshops signed Vacheron à Genève dates from the end of the 18th century.

A horological complication is a time-keeping function in a watch or clock in addition to the indication of the hours and minutes. This movement drives a small wall-clock with a beautifully engraved dial showing the days and the dates. Although wall clocks were popular at the time, those with calendars were far more rare.