When Vacheron Constantin opened its first boutique in the United States last fall on Madison Avenue in New York, collectors on this side of the Atlantic finally had a central location in which to see the newest timepieces from this Geneva-based manufacturer. The firm’s online presence, while impressive, still needed an actual space to offer U.S. collectors a place to view the ongoing collections and the very latest timepieces.
But a few months ago, Vacheron Constantin made that new boutique just a bit more inviting to collectors (if that was possible): the store now offers certified vintage Vacheron Constantin timepieces, and will typically place three such pieces in a special showcase in the boutique.
Called Vacheron Constantin Collectionneurs, the new vintage service offers timepieces that are carefully chosen and controlled by Vacheron Constantin heritage specialists in Geneva.
Each timepiece comes in its own Vacheron Constantin watch box and comes fully serviced with a Certificate of Authenticity and a one-year guarantee. Indeed, buying from the Collectionneurs service also gives the client direct access to the boutique’s experienced Vacheron Constantin after-sales service and restoration experts.
“We are offering vintage timepieces that have been serviced and restored in accordance with the watch’s heritage,” notes CEO Hugues de Pins. Original factory service, he adds, would only enhance the value of the timepiece to the owner.
For the time being, the Vacheron Constantin Collectionneurs is only available at the New York location, in Geneva and in Shanghai.
Collectors are quickly scouting the offerings, reports the brand, as six watches sold within just a few weeks. Among the watches sold: One 1949 pink gold men’s model, (reference 11452, $14,000), a 1963 gold round men’s model (reference 11464, $13,000), a 1956 round men’s watch (reference 11471, $9,000) and a 1903 pocket watch (reference 11434, $18,000). Prices were in line with current secondary market prices and auction estimates, and in many cases are an attraction to consumers new to collecting Vacheron Constantin timepieces, notes de Pins.
During Madison Avenue Watch week, a weeklong celebration by watch retailers in May, Vacheron Constantin invited customers to bring their watch to the boutique for a complimentary valuation by its experts from Geneva. Once the owner’s watch was appraised and recognized as an authentic Vacheron Constantin, its owner was invited to join a new online forum called The American Heritage of Vacheron Constantin, where owners can compare watches.
In addition, owners are asked to relate to other collectors the circumstances that led to their Vacheron Constantin acquisition. The American Heritage forum will assist Vacheron Constantin as it “allows us to paint a rich picture of American owners, illustrating the special link between collectors and their Vacheron Constantin timepieces across three centuries.”
My Vintage Vacheron Constantin
Not long ago, I received a nice note from Vacheron Constantin’s North American President Hugues de Pins. He wrote: “Dear Mr. Thompson, thank you for joining The American Heritage of Vacheron Constantin. Through your participation, you will join a community of passionate owners like yourself and be recognized as part of Vacheron Constantin American history.”
I felt honored. The note was a nice follow-up to my visit to the Vacheron Constantin boutique in New York during Madison Avenue Watch Week this past May in New York. I brought with me a gold Vacheron Constantin watch my wife obtained from her uncle several years ago. The purpose of my visit that day was obtain a free valuation– and to conclusively identify the watch.
We knew my wife’s uncle (whose memory has faded) got it as a gift in the mid-1960s, assumed it was 14-karat gold for some reason and guessed that it dated from about 1955.
When the attending watchmaker from Vacheron Constantin opened the watch however, he dispelled several of our assumptions very quickly.
The case is stamped inside ‘18-karat,’ and a quick call to the company’s Geneva office with the watch’s model number, which is also stamped on the inside of the case, confirmed that the watch was made in 1947 and shipped to New York that same year. The movement (pictured at left) was likely made at Jaeger-LeCoultre and cased, adjusted and finished at Vacheron Constantin, the type of multiple-party arrangement most high-end firms utilized at the time.
As for valuation, similar models at auction in recent years place estimated value between $3,000 and $5,000, according to Doug Efcriban, Senior Watch Specialist at Christie’s. Vacheron Constantin’s care and attention to detail as it opened my watch’s case, photographed it and recorded. But I have no intention of selling it however; how can anyone resist those amazing teardrop-shaped lugs.
Left: Vacheron Constantin took these pictures and authenticated my 1947 18-karat watch. I’ve added it to the American Heritage of Vacheron Constantin online. —M.Thompson