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Classic Attract: A Nearer Have a look at Vacheron Constantin’s Les Collectionneurs

Classic Attract: A Nearer Have a look at Vacheron Constantin’s Les Collectionneurs

The timeless appeal of vintage watches cannot be disputed. Fuelled by a nostalgic journey to eras past, they often carry a unique charm and allure that transcends trends. Since 2008, Vacheron Constantin’s Les Collectionneurs has made the world of vintage watches its specialty, providing a window onto the 20th century world of the maison.

The rise in the demand for vintage timepieces can be attributed to a variety of reasons. While some appreciate the design and craftsmanship of specific eras, others enjoy the sense of history and nostalgia that comes with wearing a watch that has a story behind it. Collectors, however, are drawn by the rarity and uniqueness, considering that these models are often not in production anymore – making them coveted items. Vintage watches, arguably, can also be seen as a symbol of timeless style and sophistication.

Driving Vacheron Constantin’s Les Collectionneurs initiative, first launched in 2008, is a team of specialists from the watchmaker’s Heritage department who meticulously and continuously curate a selection of popular vintage watch creations that span the entire 20th century – sourced from their extensive global network.

Vacheron Constantin’s archives span over three centuries of history, starting from the first document recorded in 1711 – the apprenticeship contract signed by Jean-Marc Vacheron. Also in the archives are some 420 linear metres of sales and production registers, correspondence and other iconographic documents, complemented by 1,600 horological items from the 18th century to the present day. This documentary wealth enables the maison’s experts to guarantee the traceability of all timepieces that have left its workshops since 1775.

With each acquisition of a vintage timepiece, the first task consists of recording the serial numbers of the case and movement, which are kept in the Vacheron Constantin archives for authentication purposes. After that, the technical diagnosis establishes whether the model requires simple cleaning, repair for malfunction or, more fundamentally, the replacement or supply of faulty or missing components. A corroded dial, missing hands, blunt-toothed gears, or a pitted barrel spring are all challenges to be overcome.

Within the manufacture’s three workshops that handle these models according to their age, watchmakers can restore any watch produced by the maison since its origins. The consistent objective is to intervene while respecting the work of previous watchmakers so as not to adulterate the timepiece.

To accomplish these tasks, they have stocks of period components and a fleet of historical machines at their disposal if they need to recreate a movement component. Any major operation performed on a timepiece is comprehensively documented in a booklet given to the client, so that the various stages of restoration can be fully explained.

Once these historical stages of authentication and maintenance techniques have been completed, the watches are delivered with a certificate of authenticity, a two-year warranty and a blockchain-based Digital Passport to enable trust and transparency for the future lifetime of the timepiece.

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According to Christian Selmoni, Style & Heritage Director of Vacheron Constantin, one of the biggest challenges they are faced with when selecting models is to find watches that are neither too rare nor too common. “They must also not be too damaged, too recent, nor too old. Very rare pieces are destined for auctions that exceed the price ranges that the maison offers with Les Collectionneurs. The same applies if the restoration is too extensive and hence too expensive,” he explains.

“Models that are too old are aimed primarily at specialists, while those that are too recent fall outside the realm of vintage. On this basis, it’s a question of finding timepieces that all have a specific characteristic liable to make them sufficiently attractive to collectors. This may take the form of an original display, an exceptional calibre, an anniversary piece, artistic crafts models, or Grand Complications. Any combination can work, provided of course that you know how to assess its relevance from a historical perspective. In theory, this may seem a relatively easy task. In practice, it is nothing of the sort. That’s why the maison’s Heritage experts have to be highly skilled in this area and have the right networks to source these timepieces.”

An extensive collection of models from the Les Collectionneurs collection can now be found on the watchmaker’s website. Interested customers can discover all the special features of the new watches tracked down by Vacheron Constantin’s experts and enquire about the details surrounding this particular offer and its presentation. However, the watches are exclusively offered for sale to brand aficionados at dedicated events organised in Vacheron Constantin boutiques around the world.

Source: Prestige Online

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