They say, “buy the dealer, not the watch”. And take it from me, it might just be the best advice you get before buying a watch. With the meteoric rise of pre-owned and vintage watches, naturally the number of locations to buy has also expanded.
That rise has also, rightfully seen brands seek to take ownership of this market back, I mean, why not sell a watch twice right? And let’s be honest, who knows Vacheron better than Vacheron? The vision for the “Les Collectionneurs” from Vacheron was just that, curate and sell the best of the vintage market in-house. In fact, as a brand, it was ahead of many others in doing so.
Christian Selmoni, Style & Heritage Director says “The collection perpetuates this precious link between past and present, enabling our clientele of connoisseurs and collectors to acquire restored vintage pieces directly through the Maison, which is a real guarantee. As for the events organised around the world to unveil these pieces, they attract both seasoned collectors and young generations eager to delve more deeply into watchmaking history.”
This does two things. Most importantly, it ensures the watches are honest (all parts are correct etc), and secondly provides a nice balance in the Vacheron boutiques between new vs vintage stock – with a genuinely exciting cross section of watches from the brand. To me, no other maker has the case shapes, classic eccentricity and sheer old school elegance of that at Vacheron. So, while it wasn’t easy, here are three of my top pics available London from the 7th June – 8th August, 2021 — buckle up.
18K Yellow Gold Minute-repeater
First, a drop dead gorgeous 18K yellow gold minute-repeater (ref 11761) from 1951. Trademark Vacheron tear-drop lugs, soldered to the middle case, silvered dial, circular guilloché hour-circle, 8 pointed indexes, external pearled minute-circle, yellow gold baton hands all in the most unassuming of packages. Does it get much better?
In broad watchmaking terms, the minute repeater mechanism, developed originally around 1930, was the third complication to be miniaturised to such an extent it could fit into a wristwatch case (the first two were the calendar and the chronograph). The model 4261 was the first ultra-thin minute repeater produced by Vacheron Constantin, 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 is one of the last pieces produced. The 4261, is, without a shadow of a doubt a grail piece for any collector.
18k Yellow Gold Squared Shaped Wristwatch
Next up, an 18k yellow gold, square model 6440 produced in 1967. Originally brought in Mexico in ’67 (who was he? And what did he do??), it boasts one of the most extraordinary case constructions in watchmaking. Affectionately known as the “Cioccolatone” among collectors, as a nod to its resemblance to a square of chocolate — it utilises one of the first automatic calibers created by Vacheron Constantin.
This particular model, manufactured in 1960, employs the 12”-1071, which introduced an 18k gold oscillating weight and ruby ball-bearing. Its production started in 1957, the iconic silhouette, one of less than 140 produced in yellow gold, is accentuated by stepped-level lugs and a gently rounded bezel make it wildly sexy (and hugely bold for the day). Its configuration is my personal favourite, silvered sunray satined dial, Dauphine shape hour and minute hands – time only.
18k Yellow Gold Wristwatch
Finally, an 18k yellow gold model 6064. Produced in 1955 and sold in Geneva in 1955, this model is all about “classic, with a twist” vibe. A balanced dress watch, with an oversized bezel, which gives a relatively small watch, real presence. The dial and bezel merge in a celebration of texture, with a silvered handmade guilloché dial, applied minute markers and Maltese cross in gold at 12 o’clock. The manual winding calibre 453 also boasts hallmark of Geneva finishing on one of the most beautiful movements you will ever lay eyes on.
All watches “Les Collectionneurs” from come with a digital certification of authenticity with Blockchain technology and a two-year guarantee – an offer unmatched in the watchmaking world. Whatever you do, jump in and enjoy some one-to-one time with these wonderful pierces of the brands history – you won’t regret it.
Want more from the watchmaker? The Vacheron Constantin Overseas is the steel sports watch of the moment…
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