iW Magazine

Chronogram: A Journey Through Time with Vacheron Constantin

As one of the oldest watchmakers, Vacheron Constantin has a 260-year long history. That’s 40 years longer than the U.S has been around, and with a history like the watchmaker's, there’s a lot to be learned. As part of an educational initiative, the watchmaker teamed up with The EPFL+ECAL to create a digital project called “Chronogram”. iW spoke to Director of the Lab, Nicolas Henchoz and Vacheron Constantin’s Heritage Strategy and Director, Julien Marchenoir.

Chronogram at Timecrafters, Photos by Ann Ruthmann

The main questions Marchenoir was looking to answer were: “How to preserve the archives?” and then “How to share the information with the public?”

"Chronogram" at Timecrafters

Let’s focus on the first. The two researchers involved, Digital Humanities Lab and EPFL+ECAL Lab first began digitizing the monstrous amount of physical archives Vacheron houses. As of now, the watchmaker only has digitized .04 percent of their history because of the sheer amount of letters, books, specs etc. It would take about 36 years to completely digitize Vacheron’s history, but Marchenoir says that they are working on a program to speed up the process.

At this year’s trade shows like SIHH in Geneva and Timecrafters in New York, Vacheron showed up with their “Chronogram” project. Three devices – respectively inspired by the art of masks, the fencing helmet and panoramic binoculars – enable spectators to immerse themselves into the history of Vacheron Constantin.

Chronogram at Timecrafters

The EPFL+ECAL Lab created a search engine for the watchmaker’s archives that provides a great insight into the company’s rich history. And what’s fun about this project and archive process is that the customer can choose their own adventure and learn about the topics that are interesting to them. Maybe philanthropy is your passion, then that can be focused on. The topics are almost endless when it comes to this 260-year old company.

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