Although the pandemic has heavily impacted luxury watch sales, the vintage market continues to boom. Online watch auctions are drawing in larger numbers than ever before with records being broken across just about every sector and era.
Vacheron Constantin has a greater understanding of the vintage market than most. For starters, it’s the oldest watch manufacturer in continuous production.
Over its 265-year history, Vacheron Constantin has amassed a wealth of archives, which allows it to retrace the history of each watch and precisely establish all of its characteristics. The uninterrupted process of production since its early origins enables the manufacture to repair, recondition and restore any watch to look like and work like the original, whatever its age.
To celebrate this, it launched “Les Collectionneurs” back in 2017 – having restored a limited number of historical Vacheron Constantin grail pieces, subsequently offering them for sale at dedicated events in boutiques around the world.
All its Les Collectionneurs models now come with a digital certification of authenticity with blockchain technology and a two-year guarantee – an offer unmatched in the watchmaking world.
Throughout June and July, the latest Les Collectionneurs series is available to view at Vacheron Constantin’s Bond Street and Harrods stores.
Here are three of our highlights all from the mid 20th century…
Vacheron Constantin Ref 4414 Heure Universelle
Vacheron Constantin has a long and distinguished history of making world timers. Rewind to 1932, and you’ll see the brand’s first world time pocket watch able to display 24 time zones on the same dial, rotating with the movement.
Four years later, it launched the ref 3650 which could show the times for 31 cities. And then by 1946, its ref 4414 could manage 41 cities. (The big show-off.)
The latter was such a success that everyone from the Agnellis to King Farouk of Egypt wanted a slice of the action.
Which then brings us to this – the Model 4414 Heure Universelle – one of the finest world time pocket watches Vacheron Constantin has produced.
Made in 1949, the 24 hours disk is divided in two zones – dark blue zone for the night hours and silvered for the daylight hours – and the external fixed disk graduated with the name of 41 cities and places. The city disc is fixed with Geneva, Oslo and Rome at 12 O’Clock giving us a hint as to the original owner’s home. (Or, quite possibly, homes.)
Vacheron Constantin Ref 4261
The reference 4261 was the first ultra-thin minute repeater produced by Vacheron Constantin. When it was launched in 1943 it was one of the thinnest minute repeaters ever made. Less than 40 pieces were produced between 1944-1951, in yellow gold, pink gold and platinum. This watch in 18K gold was one of the last pieces produced by the company.
At just 5.25 mm high, it’s impressive for now – let alone for 1943. The result is an astonishingly elegant dress watch with a musical trick up its sleeve.
The reference 4261 is one of the most sought-after Vacheron Constantin timepieces from the collector’s perspective – and with this pristine example it’s easy to see why.
Vacheron Constantin Ref 6440 Toledo
OK, this might be stretching ‘mid-Century’ a bit far, but this 1967 Model 6440 Toledo did take its inspiration from 1950s industrial design.
What’s so impressive about the Les Collectionneurs collections is the huge diversity of case shapes and styles on offer – reminding us just how creative Vacheron Constantin has been over the years (and indeed centuries).
The 6440 Toledo has a large cushion-shaped case with fluted sides and stepped lugs – the style is affectionately known by collectors as “Cioccolatone”, which is Italian for square-shaped chocolate. There’s no denying this is a particularly tasty number.
£33,600. For more information, see vacheron-constantin.com