37 Old Bond Street – a taste of Geneva in the heart of Mayfair
There is a place, far from the madding crowd, where peace prevails and excellence can be seen all around. Located at 37 Old Bond Street, the Vacheron Constantin boutique is devoted to selling some of the finest watches on the planet. These creations are free from compromise, often termed ‘Haute Horlogerie’.
Vacheron Constantin, the Genevan Maison was founded in 1755 and is the world’s oldest watch Manufacture in continuous production. Throughout its history it has supplied royalty, world leaders, captains of industry and watch aficionados.
At the heart of the company’s culture is a respect for watchmaking traditions passed down from one generation to the next and an appreciation for beauty and hand craftsmanship. Conversely, the company has repeatedly demonstrated a forward-thinking approach, embracing new technology when it delivers advancement for the benefit of its customers.
Dedicated to excellence
As soon as the client enters the boutique, they are met by friendly staff and an overriding sense of calm. This taste of Geneva is located in the heart of London and dedicated to excellence.
Many watches from the brand’s extensive portfolio of models are on display. This is somewhat surprising as the company makes comparatively small volumes of watches, a characteristic conveyed with the firm’s slogan, ‘One Of Not Many’.
A diverse array of watches on offer
Vacheron Constantin makes a diverse array of timepieces from classical dress watches to contemporary sports models. Each collection has its own personality, but each reference is aesthetically pleasing and rich in mechanical virtue.
Some models feature one or more ‘complications’. This latter term refers to a function other than the display of hours, minutes and seconds. There are many examples of complications, including the ‘chronograph’, ‘perpetual calendar’, ‘tourbillon’ and the highly complex ‘minute repeater’. Over the years, the Manufacture has produced watches equipped with one or more complications. Indeed, the Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260, a one-of-a-kind creation, is the world’s most complicated pocketwatch, equipped with 57 horological complications.
The Swiss Manufacture is synonymous with artistic crafts or ‘Metiers d’Art’. This entails enriching the appearance of a fine timepiece with enamelling, engraving, gemsetting or guillochage. The Maison’s artisans employ age-old techniques to suffuse surfaces with sumptuous details that distinguish a creation as exceptional, effectively a ticking piece of art.
Excellence is seldom achieved in haste
One reason why the Maison doesn’t produce vast quantities of watches is that the making of each timepiece is protracted and draws on the skills of experienced watchmakers and craftspeople. Each watch is made to a matchless standard where compromise is an alien concept.
Refined finishing, or finissage, is a characteristic common to all Vacheron Constantin models. An artisan, termed a ‘finisseur’, employs different polishing techniques to enrich the aesthetic appearance of parts, remove any signs of machining (some parts need to made using modern plant) and, finally, enhance corrosion resistance. Often, the type of finishing employed is dictated by tradition. Some techniques can prove very time-consuming to perform. For example, the ‘bar’ spanning the dial opening on a tourbillon is entirely finished by hand, a task requiring 12 hours to complete.
An unrivalled shopping experience
Consistent with the refined composition of each timepiece, the purchasing experience at the brand’s London boutique is a civilised experience. There is a welcome absence of annoying background music that often spoils many a shopping trip.
Informed staff are in attendance, but clients can survey the models on display at their own pace, free of sales pressure. However, should a visitor to the boutique require information, staff are on hand to provide help. With a wealth of experience, they can advise on the composition of each model, including technical details, such as the presence of any artistic crafts or complications and the various types of finishing employed.
Those clients concerned about their privacy can view watches in the boutique’s private lounge, beyond the public’s gaze.
A trained watchmaker is based on the premises, servicing watches and performing minor repairs. Many visitors to the boutique often seize the opportunity to view the watchmaker at work, painstakingly adjusting components barely visible to the naked eye. Indeed, the boutique provides a flavour of the Genevan Manufacture, a place where perfection prevails.
Some clients choose to trade-in a formerly cherished timepiece in order to facilitate the purchase of their dream watch. Vacheron Constantin, working closely with Watchfinder & Co, can assist with this process and provide on the spot valuations.
Alternatively, some clients choose to spread the cost of acquisition over a number of months. The boutique staff are, once again, on hand to discuss the client’s needs and propose suitable financing options.
Periodically, visitors to 37 Old Bond Street can view touring exhibitions. Clients can view rare historic pieces at close quarters. These models may be inspired by a former period in history, such as Art Nouveau, or include exquisite artistic crafts.
Likewise, unique timepieces, the Maison’s ‘Les Cabinotiers’ creations, tour the globe to the delight of connoisseurs. These ‘one-of-a-kind creations’ often encompass artistic crafts as well as complications and fully demonstrate the Manufacture’s remarkable watchmaking expertise. Clients who wish to experience this service, the pinnacle of Vacheron Constantin ownership, can discuss their requirements with an advisor and commission their very own Les Cabinotiers creation.
Historiques or Les Collectionneurs
Vacheron Constantin offers two potential purchasing options for clients yearning a watch endowed with a vintage look. The Historiques collection is comprised of new watches which are inspired by former models of yesteryear. Typically larger than vintage timepieces, Historique models capture the look of a bygone era while indulging today’s preference for larger case dimensions. Likewise, these period-inspired watches contain contemporary movements made using a combination of traditional and modern techniques, delivering notable precision.
Arguably one of the most coveted models within this collection is the Historique American 1921, a model which is currently celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Today, this example of Art Deco design is offered in two cases sizes, 36.5mm or 40mm, satisfying the needs of most consumers.
Alternatively, ‘Les Collectionneurs’ is the term employed by Vacheron Constantin to describe its collection of vintage watches. These models are acquired by the company’s Heritage Department, authenticated and sympathetically restored by its team of in-house experts. One of the objectives is not to refurbish the watch to an as-new condition, as this would rob it of its period charm. Indeed, similar to a piece of art, the Maison ensures a light touch is employed at all times, in order to preserve the model’s value and retain its historic significance.
A horological enclave in Mayfair
With over 260 years of watchmaking history, the story of this esteemed Maison cannot be conveyed in a few words. Quite simply, there is much to discover about Vacheron Constantin. The best place to gain a greater insight into this world of horological excellence is 37 Old Bond Street, London where you will always be greeted by friendly and professional staff willing to impart their knowledge.
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