Maintenance and restoration, preserving a watch through the years
- Teams that guarantee the authenticity and sustainability of all watches produced by Vacheron Constantin since its founding in 1755
- Watchmakers handling the maintenance, repair and restoration to their original state of all watch components
- Restoration in accordance with best practice based on traditional skills and historical tools
The mission of the Customer Service and Restoration department teams is to guarantee the authenticity and sustainability of all the watches that Vacheron Constantin has produced since its founding in 1755, as well as accompanying customers and collectors in their experience of the Maison. Responsible for maintaining, repairing and restoring – yet without altering – the timepieces entrusted to them, through combining an historical approach with scientific analysis, they draw on their culture and expertise in order to reconstitute the life of each model. They are the custodians of Vacheron Constantin’s enduring integrity, authentic pillars on which the trust of customers, collectors and devotees of Haute Horlogerie can safely rest.
Their skills are exercised in three workshops dedicated to recent watches, to ‘vintage’ models produced between around 1930 and 1970, as well as to older creations from the Maison, now in private ownership or part of the Vacheron Constantin collection titled Les Collectionneurs that the Heritage department acquires in order to offer them for sale once restored.
Upon arriving in the workshop, any timepiece undergoes a highly specific process. It is first scrupulously identified in order to certify its authenticity. In case of doubt, watchmakers ask for the preponderant opinion of the Heritage department, which performs verifications by comparing it with the numerous archives of the Maison. This may involve an ultra-thin 1955 model or a diamond-set ladies’ watch, a 1950 chronograph or a quarter-repeating watch from 1830… The technical diagnosis is then made, whether that means a dial to be recreated, a sprung balance to be remade, missing hands and crown, bridges or a plate that are no longer operational. This full-fledged dissection is followed by lengthy and meticulous research into Vacheron Constantin’s abundant creative legacy. To assist him in this task of replacing the model within its historical context, as well as reconstituting its design and its mechanism, the watchmaker can consult an album regularly updated by the Heritage teams and in which all creations from the Maison are listed and pictured.
Restoring timepieces to their original state in keeping with the finest traditions
As well as being the world’s oldest watch Manufacture in continuous production for over 260 years, Vacheron Constantin is the only one capable of restoring and repairing the oldest models while preserving their original properties. The skill and style of these experienced artisans thus consists in showing respect for ethical considerations in their work. To achieve this, they can draw upon a substantial stock of components intended for watches produced between 1950 and 1970, and subsequently. These miniature components are stored in cases labelled like treasure chests: “Large gold minutes hand”, “Large gold hours hand”, “Balance wheel” “Pallet lever”, etc. Calibres are lined up in tightly packed rows. For watches dating from before 1950, watchmakers adjust component blanks or entirely remake them – the latter being the most delicate task of all and calling for particularly complex size calculations. The Heritage archive documents, such as plans, diagrams and instruction manuals, are all precious tools on which they base their work.
Nonetheless, delving back through 260 years of Fine Watchmaking and ensuring the sustainability of these watches also calls for mastery of traditional tools and skills. An historical model will thus need to be worked with a 19th century lathe with a sliding rest or a period machine. Customised craftsmanship is thus a cherished Vacheron Constantin commitment to its customers. For exceptional models, a booklet retracing the various stages of restoration is handed over to owners so that have a full record of the admirable surgical-like operations performed by the watchmaker in breathing new life into their timepiece.