Vintage Vacheron Constantin Wristwatches

Founded in 1755, Vacheron & Constantin is known for the consistent quality of its luxury and complex high-end wristwatches. Ironically for a company that is today associated with fine craftsmanship, it was Vacheron & Constantin — specifically, an employee named Georges-Auguste Leschot — who, in 1839, introduced the practice of mass producing interchangeable parts for its watches.

The move was widely derided by the traditional watch making establishment, but by automating the manufacture of interchangeable parts, Vacheron & Constantin was able to stay competitive and thrive. Several decades later, Leschot’s gambit caught the eye of Karl Marx, who credited Vacheron & Constantin with the industrialization of the entire watch making industry in Das Kapital.

Although the company made gold-and-enameled jewelry bracelets and gold-and-diamond brooches for 19th-century ladies, its first true wristwatches appeared around 1910. Men’s antique Vacheron & Constantin wristwatches from the early part of the 20th century are typically cased in gold, modest in size, and tend to be rectangular or oval in shape. Ladies watches from the 1910s, however, are still treated as pieces of fine jewelry.

Men’s wristwatches from the 1920s and 1930s are slightly more playful than the ones that precede them, but they remain formal and dignified in appearance. Some have dials that have been turned precisely 45 degrees to the left or the right, the better to be read by left- or right-handed wearers. Other antique Vacheron & Constantins from this period reflect the prevailing Art Deco aesthetic of the day.

Then there are the antique Vacheron & Constantin Montre à Volets wristwatches from the 1930s, with gold horizontal or vertical Venetian blinds on their faces that hide (or reveal) the dial below. Some of these mechanical shutters were opened and closed by turning a knob opposite the winding device. Others were operated by sliding a block along the case above or below the face. All are ingenious marvels of design and engineering.

A venerable vintage model from the 1940s and 1950s is the Cornes de Vache, which featured a gold or platinum case, a chronograph, and a tachometer. Other vintage Vacheron & Constantins from the post-war era had calendars in their dials or showed the phases of the moon. But the workhorse from this period and into the 1960s was the Vacheron & Constantin Chronometre Royal, whose plain dial and simple gold case belied the precision movement hidden inside.

Finally, like most manufacturers, Vacheron & Constantin produced any number of commemorative and special wristwatches . For example, the company gave one of its George V Royal Presentation Aviator’s Chronographs from 1926 to Admiral Byrd to mark his flight that year to the North Pole...

In 1955, Vacheron & Constantin made a wristwatch that was as thin as a toothpick — at the time it could claim to be the world’s thinnest wristwatch. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Kallista, a late 1970s behemoth that featured 140 grams of gold (almost 5 ounces!) and 118 diamonds. With a price tag of $5,000,000, it was the most expensive watch ever made.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage 1930s-40s Vacheron & Constantin Wristwatch For Repair.Vacheron Constantin 18k Gold Chronometer Original Vacheron Constantin Ultra Thin 1003 Open Back Case Linen Dial Recased Stunning 14k Solid Gold Jaeger Lecoultre 480/cw Vxn Vacheron Men's Watch1901 Vacheron & Constantin 15 Jewels High Grade Pocket Watch Movement Vintage Vacheron & Constantin Depose Men's Watch Manual Wind 18k Gold No Reserve Vacheron & Constantin About 1910 Year High Grade Pocket Watch MovementVacheron Constantin Open Heart.Vintage Mechanical Vacheron & Constantin Wristwatch W Key Pocket Watch MarriageVacheron & Constantin Chronometre Royal Pocket Watch 57mm 18k GoldVacheron Constantin Antique Movement Wristwatch Rare Top Grade From 1910Vintagevacheron- Constantin Ref - 6038,18k Solid Gold Case ,size 38mm AutomaticVintage Rare Vacheron & Constantin With Key Good Condition Men WatchGenuine Vacheron Constantin 18ct Solid Yellow Gold Full Hunter Pocket WatchVacheron Constantin Mens WristwatchVintage Vacheron Constantin 18k Solid Gold Case & Band Cal.1003/1 Black DialRare Vintage 40s 50s Watch Box For Vacheron Et ConstantinVacheron Constantin Ultra Thin 18k White GoldGenuine Vintage Vacheron Constantin 18kt Yellow Gold Mechanical Movement MintVintage Vacheron & Constantin Geneve Watch Face Movement Rare Quality AntiqueHighest Grade Vacheron Constantin Pocket Watch Movement Vintage Watch Dial For Parts Labeled Vacheron Constantin Vacheron & Constantin Geneve Solid 14k Gold Chronometer - 1910Vacheron Constantin 21mm Black Alligator Strap18k Gold Vacheron & Constantin Pocket Watch Geneve-suisse!Rare Antique Early Vacheron Gold And Enamel Full Hunter Key Wind Pocket WatchVintage Le Coultre Vacheron Vxn 417/3cw Wristwatches Movement Runs GreatVintage Vacheron & Constantin 18k Yellow Gold Watch Fancy Lugs Mechanical Mens!!Vacheron Constantin 23mm Brown Alligator StrapVintage Vacheron & Constantin Converted Pocket Watch Manual Wind WatchVacheron Constantin Watch PouchVacheron Constantin Watch Box