The story of Vacheron & Constantin begins in 1755 in Geneva. They are the oldest watch manufacturer in the world with an uninterrupted history. The company was founded by Jean Marc Vacheron, a young talented watchmaker.
In 1770, Vacheron created his first complicated movement. In 1779, he was making the first engine-turned dials. In 1785, the company was taken over by Vacheron’s son, Abraham. In 1810, the grandson of the founder, Jaques-Barthèlemy, took over the business.
Jacques-Barthèlemy began exporting watches to France and Italy. He wanted to expand the business further, but realized he could not do this alone. In 1819, François Constantin was brought in as Vacheron’s associate to take the company to the next level. It was at this time the company began using the name “Vacheron & Constantin.” Before long, Vacheron & Constantin hired Georges-Auguste Leschot, an inventor. His designs were wildly successful. He was the first person to standardize movements into calibers. In 1844 he was awarded a gold medal at the Arts Society of Geneva for his pantographic tool. This device allowed a watchmaker to engrave watch parts and dials.
In 1854, François Constantin died, and in 1863, Jaques-Barthèlemy died. The company was managed over the next several years by numerous heirs and reorganized in 1887. Also that year, the company was awarded a gold medal at the Swiss National Exhibition in Geneva.
Vacheron & Constantin opened their first shop in Geneva in 1906. This store is still open today. One of the most expensive watches on the market today is the “Kallista” by Vacheron & Constantin. It was created in 1979, and originally sold for $5 million. Today the watch is valued around $11 million. The watch offers more than 100 emerald-cut diamonds, and took 6,000 hours to create. Vacheron & Constantin dropped the “&” from their name in 1979. They are still in operation today, owned by the Richemont Group. They produce approximately 20,000 watches a year, and are headquartered in Plan-les Ouates, Geneva.