From Its Métiers d’Art Collection To The Overseas Line: The Reasons For Vacheron Constantin’s Success
After an incredible unveiling of highly impressive additions to its Métiers d’Art collection at the Louvre in Paris back in May of this year, Watchonista sat down with Chief Commercial Officer of Vacheron Constantin, Laurent Perves, to discuss how the brand has managed to not only hold onto its existing collector base, but actually grow it.
In addition to that interview, as a bonus, Watchonista recently had the chance to photograph all four masterpieces that comprise Vacheron Constantin’s astonishing collaboration with the Louvre – the Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilisations – in our Swiss studio.
As a result, we are delighted to show you, in detail, what makes this collaboration with the Louvre as remarkable and unique as Perves claims in our interview.
Communicating Across Collections
As a witness to Vacheron Constantin’s ongoing popularity with longtime collectors and collecting newbies, I was extremely curious to understand two things: How the brand’s communication strategy covers both groups, and second, how he thinks the brand’s strategy has influenced demand.
More specifically, I wanted to know how, given how different the various generations of collectors are, Vacheron Constantin maintains a consistent communication strategy across the Overseas, Historiques, and Les Cabinotiers (“on demand”) collections.
Laurent Perves’ answer surprised me: “At Vacheron, we don’t distinguish between all our families in communication. All our lines are part of Vacheron Constantin’s rich heritage. And having lines that look very different is one of our greatest strengths.
“However, at the end of the day, all our collections are based on the same values. What we are is what we do, namely Haute Horlogerie and high craftsmanship. That link is strong in all our collections, whether we are talking about the Overseas or the Métiers d’Art masterpieces we made in collaboration with Le Louvre.”
Although his answer initially surprised me, upon further thought, the common link between the brand’s diverse collections is, if not obvious, more tangible than I realized.
Consider, for instance, the Historiques American 1921 and the Overseas perpetual calendar ultra-thin skeleton. Both models can be dressy and sporty; both look as if they could be heritage pieces or bespoke creations. But those are more surface-level links; the real connections between these two models are the refinement of their designs, their high level of craftsmanship, and their relevancy to the prevailing trends and desires of the watch-collecting community.
Consistency Over the Years
But what about the consistency of the message over the years? After all, a brand can have a long legacy, but that doesn’t mean you understand it or how to use it properly. I think part of the answer to that question can be found in the Historiques collection.
Like the Historiques American 1921, the Historiques Cornes de Vache 1955 is based entirely on pieces from Vacheron Constantin’s heritage. However, as much as the look of the modern Cornes de Vache 1955 mirrors previous models, its construction – from its brush detailing and polished hands to its index design – is thoroughly contemporary in its execution.
In our interview, Perves was even more precise: “This year, with the Historiques 222, we proved that the success of redesigned models is not a question of period, but approach. Specifically, we achieve a sense of beauty and taste in our redesigned models by thinking of the process as a collaboration between a Master of Art and an haute horlogerie.” Considering the success of the Historiques 222, it is hard to argue with that.
Like most of the watch world, I think the 222 is an absolute visual knockout. Plus, its redesigned integrated bracelet is much more comfortable than the original from the 1970s.
As a result, this re-edition and vintage prices, went through the roof on the secondary market. More than its commercial success, the Historiques 222 once again opened a dialog between newer collectors and the brand and rekindled discussion around how we define the word “icon.”
Sincerity with Clients
What about the brand’s communication with its clientele? After all, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best if don’t know how to speak to longtime collectors as well as newcomers.
Once again, Laurent Perves got straight to the point: “We don’t have policies that discriminate against or discourage new collectors who want to get their first Vacheron Constantin. Moreover, we are transparent with our supply chain, keeping all our clients informed throughout the delivery process.”
Perves then used the crazy demand (and the resulting long waitlist) for the boutique-exclusive Overseas perpetual calendar ultra-thin skeleton in either white or rose gold, as an example, saying: “If you are transparent with your client and explain that, each year, Vacheron has only 100 pieces of the Overseas perpetual calendar in white and rose gold to distribute across 106 boutiques, then you start to build trust. You also create an understanding that a masterpiece, such as this, takes time, passion, and skill to craft.”
By the end of our interview, I was reminded that despite a recipe being “simple,” it doesn’t mean it’s not hard to do. After all, “fundamental” is not synonymous with “easy.”
We met with Perves during the unveiling of the brand’s astonishing Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilisations line, so let’s end with a brief overview of this quartet and learn what Vacheron Constantin can achieve.
The Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilisations: A Quartet of Masterpieces Usually, we see watch brands collaborate with individuals, sports teams, or non-watch luxury brands. However, to make the four models that comprise the Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilisations line, Vacheron Constantin teamed-up with a museum, the Louvre.
When I asked Perves about the brand’s collaboration with the famed museum, he said: “The exchange between Le Louvre and Vacheron Constantin has been unexpected and sincere, during which we’ve exchanged technics, tools, and even watchmaker’s benches they use in Le Louvre’s restoration department.”
With the extraordinary Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilizations line, Vacheron Constantin offers up an unexpected perspective on some of the masterpieces in the Louvre.
There are four civilisations portrayed in the collection: the Persian Empire of Achaemenids (559 – 330 BC), the Ancient Egyptian Empire (2035 – 1680 BC), the Roman Empire of the Julio-Claudians (27 BC – 68 AD), and Hellenistic Greece of the Antigonid Dynasty (277 – 168 BC). Sadly, only five pieces are available per model. The Persian Empire of the Achaemenids (559 – 330 BC): Lion de Darius For me, the Lion de Darius made the biggest impression at the Louvre launch party.
The Persian Empire of the Achaemenids (559 – 330 BC): Lion de Darius
For me, the Lion de Darius made the biggest impression at the Louvre launch party.
This model features a vibrantly colored stone marquetry background that resembles the glazed bricks in the first courtyard of Darius the Great’s palace in Susa, which was the capital of the Persian Achaemenid Empire in southwestern Iran.
The Ancient Egyptian Empire (2035 – 1680 BC): Grand Sphinx de Tanis
With a dial featuring a carved gold applique replica of the sphinx’s head (broken nose and all) and an engraved hieroglyphic inscription from a cartouche of the sphinx of Tanis, the incredible craftsmanship that went into making the watch dedicated to the Great Sphinx of Tanis is obvious.
Of particular note is this model’s fascinating chromatic composition.
The Roman Empire of the Julio-Claudians (27 BC – 68 AD): Buste d’Auguste
A marvel of engraving, this model represents the bust of Octavian Augustus, the adopted son of Caesar.
Amazingly, this piece uses seven different stones, cut into 660 individual pieces, to create the dial’s micro-mosaic background.
Hellenistic Greece of the Antigonid Dynasty (277 – 168 BC): Victoire de Samothrace
Rendered here in white gold atop a brown enamel background, the statue depicted on the dial of this model is the winged goddess Victory standing on the bow of a warship.
Discovered in 1863 on the island of Samothrace in the northern Aegean Sea, the statue was carved from white Parian marble by an unknown artist.
For more information about the Métiers d’Art Tribute to Great Civilisations collection, visit the Vacheron Constantin website.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel & Liam O'Donnell)