Amongst the names that make up Swiss watchmaking’s sacred trifecta, Vacheron Constantin stands out as the most underrated: the world’s oldest watch manufacturer doesn’t necessarily possess the cultural notoriety of Audemars Piguet, nor the overt collectability of Patek Philippe; but for 264 unbroken years has been at the vanguard of important contributions to the Swiss watch industry. Whereas most brands strive to achieve a handful of horological breakthroughs, innovation is a kind of benevolent disease at Vacheron: the brand has engineered a veritable lineage of ‘super complications’ (most famously for the Egyptian kings Fuad I and Farouk); embraced vintage watches with the full force of modern technology; developed one of the world’s iconic ultra-thin movements; and, more recently, succeeded in crafting a watch with a 65-day power reserve. (You can read about this feat of mechanical wizardry, dubbed the ‘Twin Beat’, below.)
Historically, it has been a very specific kind of individual who collects Vacheron. Before the age of 44mm sports watches, the brand was instrumental in creating what we now think of as the classic mid-century design language: Art-Deco cases, characterful lugs and painstakingly balanced proportions have all contributed to its reputation for ‘refined’ watchmaking. In conjunction with a long history of intricate, highly technical watchmaking, the brand has built a truly international clientele. In the latest edition of History of Time, we share a handful of our favourite ‘highlights’ from the house of Vacheron and maybe, just maybe, convince you to discover the Swiss watch industry’s most under-appreciated marque.