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Vacheron Constantin: The Maltese Cross

Updated: Apr 17, 2020


the Vacheron Firm

Empress Marie-Louise, Tsar Alexander II, Aristide Briand, the Prince of Wales who subsequently reigned as Edward VII, Queen Frederika of Greece, the Aga Khan, Prince Akihito of Japan, Sacha Guitry, the Indian Maharajas of Baruda, Burt Lancaster, Lino Ventura, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Richard Berry, Jeanne Moreau, and Boris Becker have all been devotees of Vacheron Constantin, the oldest watch manufacture. The great firm was established in 1755, when Jean-Marc Vacheron opened his first clock and watch store in Geneva. The brand has always had a gift for fitting extremely complicated watch mechanisms into remarkably solid, precious and sometimes tiny cases.

Joining forces with Froncois Constantin

Vacheron's meeting with Froncois Constantin, the son of a tremendously wealthy cereal merchant, proved crucial. Constantin loved fine mechanisms and had actually sold watches in his youth. The Vacheron Constantin venture really took off in 1839, when the recently established manufacture shrewdly hired Georges-Auguste Leschot, a master watchmaker and a brilliant inventor. From then on, Vacheron Constantin watches gained a name as high-precision products sold at very competitive prices. In 1880, the company registered its symbol, the Maltese cross, which is featured on all its cases.

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Entering the new wristwatch market

In 1910, Vacheron Constantin successfully entered the new wristwatch market. Complication, repeater and calendar watches: the brand's products were unique. In 1938, the Maltese cross brand began to work closely with Jaeger-LeCoultre, initially only on drafts. Since then, it has become part of the Richemont Group, but remains a symbol of absolute luxury in the field of fine watchmaking complications. Geneva's oldest manufacture to boast an uninterrupted history also has a passion for craft trades and again demonstrated its skills on its 250th anniversary (celebrated in 2005), when it opened its Plan-les-Ouates manufacture near Geneva. For more than fifteen years, the firm has been enjoying rapid growth, but still offers customers watches equipped with the increasingly sophisticated, unique, delicate movements it develops itself, one of whose distinguishing marks is often the very rare, greatly prized Poincon de Geneve stamp.

Remarkable designs

Often referred to as "noble", the watches that bear the Maltese cross on their dials share a distinctive characteristic: perfect balance. Defined by its remarkable trademark sobriety, the very aristocratic, but nonetheless contemporary Patrimony collection is undeniably a perfect example of this very special quality. But whatever the urban line's virtues, they should not obscure the firm's talent for creating remarkable models, such as the ultra slim versions presented in 2010; and timepieces whose skeleton movements reveal most of their components thorough a lacework of metal

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