Vacheron & Constantin
Vacheron & Constantin wristwatch in 18 carat yellow gold. Case measures 35 mm with Florentine finish on lugs. Original dial has pink hands and markers and is actually quite pleasing. Caliber K1071 18 carat gold rotor automatic movement with 29 jewels. Very cool 1960's Vacheron & Constantin wristwatch.
Vacheron and Constantin's origins can be honestly traced back to 1755, when the 24 year old Jean-Marc Vacheron joined the ranks of the Cabinotier of Geneva. Cultured, well read, and a respected member of the intelligentsia of the time, young Jean-Marc quickly established a reputation for producing timepieces of the highest grade. Vacheron's reputation extended to the Royal Courts of Europe, where their creations impressed even the Court Timekeeper and Royal Watchmakers. An all too seldom mentioned character in this fascinating story is that of Georges-Auguste Leschot. He joined Vacheron-Chossat in 1839. Georges-Auguste Leschot was one of the genius pioneers of the mechanization of serialized production, along with predecessor F. Japy in France (originated the ebauche approach to watchmaking in late 1700's), and contemporaries P.F. Ingold, Americans A.L. Dennison, the Pitkin brothers, E. Howard, and Custer. It is interesting to note that Ingold's attempts to mechanize production in the watchmaking industry were met with strong resistance in both France and England. Ingold himself was Swiss, and studied with Breguet in Paris, before attempting, unsuccessfully, to start machine assisted production lines in his own company. Prior to Leschot's work at Vacheron, virtually all parts were rough cut, formed, and finished by hand. This lack of fine precision essentially forced the custom creation of every single piece, even if the design was fundamentally unchanged. There was no interchangeability of parts, even for the same model. Essentially, every finished piece was a one-off. This was a problem of production and execution, not of design. Efforts had already started, a few decades before, to create machines that could produce, reliably and consistently, precision parts that could then be used in serial production. G-A. Leschot's breakthroughs were in designing machines that could produce parts that were of sufficient quality and precision that they were interchangeable in the same caliber. They did, however, still require hand finishing to be usable on an interchangeable basis. The production and cost efficiencies realized were such that Vacheron and Constantin quickly became a major supplier of components and ebauche to other watchmakers. They also remained a dominant manufacture due to the resulting cost efficiencies. That Leschot played a critical role in Vacheron and Constantin's survival and growth during those glory years cannot be over-emphasized. It can be reasonably argued that Leschot's machines was a key factor in the success of the Swiss bar movement design. No less a landmark work than Karl Marx' Das Kapital makes reference to Vacheron and Constantin for successfully introducing machine work into the watchmaking process. Suffice it to say that Leschot and Vacheron played pivotal roles in the industrialization of watchmaking, hitherto a cottage industry, and blazed the path for future watchmaking titans Omega and Longines. G-A Leschot was the creator of a number of other mechanical and machining breakthroughs, including a process for drilling with a bit tipped with a crown of black diamonds. During the latter part of the 19th century, Vacheron and Constantin underwent a number of name and individual ownership changes, but always with a Vacheron and a Constantin at the helm.