The more than 250 years of uninterrupted history pursued by Vacheron Constantin are punctuated by many significant milestones. From a connoisseur’s viewpoint, 1907 stands out as a special landmark, since that was the year the Geneva-based Manufacture presented its first Chronomètre Royal and subsequently registered this venerable name that has become synonymous with nobility and dependability.
Right from the start, the Chronomètre Royal – naturally introduced as a pocket-watch at the time – earned swift international success due to an array of qualities distinguishing it quite clearly from the standard watchmaking production of the period. Its sturdiness, reliability and precision earned it legendary renown and were a delight for devotees living in extreme climates hitherto not conducive to the smooth running of timepieces.
This marked the beginning of an extraordinary adventure for the Chronomètre Royal model by Vacheron Constantin, which was to repeatedly surprise observers by its functional qualities as it steadily evolved throughout the 20th century.
To celebrate this historical milestone and in tribute to this model so emblematic of the Geneva Manufacture and the values it conveys, in 2007 Vacheron Constantin presented a new Chronomètre Royal 1907 within its “Historiques” line.
Moreover, it also houses a new proprietary self-winding movement, Calibre 2460 SCC, equipped with a stop seconds mechanism and bearing double certification, respectively granted by the Hallmark of Geneva governing authorities and the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).
With this Chronomètre Royal 1907, Vacheron Constantin is returning to its roots while combining creativity with historical exactitude. This rare model is quite clearly destined for connoisseurs and collectors, representing the perfect expression of the classic Haute Horlogerie values embodied by Vacheron Constantin for over 250 years.
May 28th 1907 was destined to go down in Vacheron Constantin history. That was the day the “Chronomètre Royal Vacheron Constantin Genève” became a registered trademark and the first pocket-watch bearing this prestigious name was presented, paving the way for a timepiece enshrining all the ingredients required to become an enduring legend.
This early recognition stemmed first and foremost from the intrinsic qualities of this pocket-watch radiating an understated elegance matched by peerless precision and sturdiness. It immediately aroused considerable interest and curiosity, doubtless due to the obvious fact that it was endowed with timeless technical and functional qualities. These enviable characteristics, which were extremely rare at the time of its launch in the first decade of the 20th century, were enough to ensure a unique place in history for the name of this prestigious lineage.
The strong and favourable reactions to the Chronomètre Royal and its instant international success led Vacheron Constantin to reinforce its protection by registering the “Chronomètre Royal Vacheron Constantin Genève” trademark in Switzerland in 1907.
A century after the introduction of the Chronomètre Royal, historical hindsight confirms that the enthusiasm generated during the early years continued unabated. In all, around 20 models and as many movements have illustrated the various chapters of this ongoing success story.
The first pocket-watch models equipped with 22 lignes movements are distinguished by a degree of reliability and sturdiness that made the Chronomètre Royal the watch of the early 20th century. It was no coincidence that it became so swiftly successful in Latin America, since it was soon seen to be one of the first watches able to stand up over the long term to the multiple uncertainties of the climate and conditions prevailing on this continent.
Whether changes in altitude, major daily temperature variations or a high humidity rate: nothing appeared detrimental to the running of the Chronomètre Royal, which found a particularly receptive market in these regions. Customers in this part of the world were all the more interested in buying watches providing long-term reliability in that they lived in remote areas that were often far away from after-sales service centers.
These imperious necessities, transformed into correspondingly high demands, were to ensure the success of the Chronomètre Royal watch, which proved itself entirely capable of running smoothly for years, even in the most difficult conditions.
Moreover, the sturdiness and precision of these mechanical movements were further enhanced by the exceptional quality of the dials that were also to become part of the Chronomètre Royal legend. Made from Grand Feu enamel in order to resist oxidation, often graced with Arabic numerals and featuring an outer minute circle, they found their way through the decades unscathed by the passing of time. Witness the remarkable state of the almost century-old pocket-watches that are returned to the Vacheron Constantin customer service workshops for an overhaul of their mechanical heart.
This sturdiness and this reliability have gradually become the most striking signature features of the Chronomètre Royal by Vacheron Constantin. But they have of course been an integral part of the brand heritage and genes for much longer than that. Witness the wealth of correspondence exchanged between the tireless traveller François Constantin and the meticulous watchmaker Jacques Barthélémy Vacheron, which repeatedly mentions the determination expressed by the former in his letters to the latter: no need to produce flowery models in tune with the times, sturdiness and precision are paramount!
A century later, this two-fold demand for sturdiness and precision –guaranteed over the long term– has become inextricably entwined with the many different developments of the Chronomètre Royal. This prestigious lineage is in this respect entirely emblematic of the overall Vacheron Constantin philosophy.
A major new chapter in the history of the Chronomètre Royal model was written in 1953 with the emergence of the first wristwatch bearing the name. The classical design codes of its yellow gold case were clearly in line with those of the Chronomètre Royal pocket-watches.
At the heart of this wristwatch beat hand-wound Calibre 1007 with small seconds and stop-balance mechanism, bearing the Hallmark of Geneva and delivered with its Observatory Rating Certificate. This 12 lignes, or the almost identical Calibre 1008 with central seconds, were to equip all the Vacheron Constantin Chronomètre Royal wristwatches between 1953 and 1962.
The stop-seconds or stop-balance system with which they are equipped enabled extremely accurate time-setting. While it represents a key argument for a timepiece built upon the cardinal value of precision, the stop-seconds function was nonetheless an extremely rare feature on wristwatches of that era.
Loyal to the principles on which the first generations of Chronomètre Royal had built their reputation, these wristwatches displayed remarkable chronometric performances. Vacheron Constantin was delighted to be able to point out its peerless expertise in this field and its ability to excel in vying with its peers during the most prestigious competitions.
One eloquent example is the 1957 advert recalling the First Prize awarded for marine chronometers, and then evoking the precision of its Chronomètre Royal wristwatch: “Each year, Vacheron & Constantin competes against the best Swiss brands at the Geneva Observatory contest. Once again, in 1956, Vacheron & Constantin won top honours in these particularly demanding trials, achieving results worthy of a watchmaking tradition going back over 200 years. Not only was Vacheron & Constantin ranked first in the A and B categories, but its chronometers swept up 8 of the top 10 places in each of these categories!”
The advert then continues by evoking the precision characteristics of the Chronomètre Royal wristwatch: “An extremely high-class watch created for a demanding clientele by the same experts who produced the Vacheron & Constantin chronometers that win observatory competitions”.
This concern for chronometric precision is intimately bound up with the history of the Chronomètre Royal watch. It was perpetuated with the emergence of the first self-winding movements – Calibres 1072 and 1072Q with date – that were to equip the Chronomètre Royal from 1962 onwards.
Another major movement within this collection is the highly sought-after Calibre 1096, produced in the 1970s in a relatively limited series. The first ever departure from the round shape of the case came in 1976 with a limited steel edition of the Chronomètre Royal, and from 1998 onwards the classic round gold case regained precedence in perpetuating an exceptional and already almost century-old history.
Precision, reliability, understatement. For an entire century, the Chronomètre Royal by Vacheron Constantin has represented the most accomplished expression of this three-fold demand. And it will continue to do so. In tribute to this iconic model so powerfully emblematic of the brand, Vacheron Constantin has enriched its “Historiques” line with the Chronomètre Royal 1907: a superlative creation for collectors dedicated to the great signatures that have found their way through horological history, and for connoisseurs imbued with a love of traditional craftsmanship techniques.
Born of a determination to highlight the wealth of the Vacheron Constantin heritage, the “Historiques” line aims to revive the models symbolising the spirit and the know-how of the brand through contemporary interpretations of this legendary watches. As a registered Vacheron Constantin trademark since 1907, the Chronomètre Royal model experienced a genuine rebirth in 2007.
Rare in terms of its production limited to 100 for the 2007 vintage, the Chronomètre Royal 1907 is a reinterpretation entirely in harmony with the spirit of its prestigious forerunners.
The classically inspired and elegantly understated 18-carat pink gold case, measuring 39 in diameter, is graced by a delicately satin-brushed caseband enhanced with a spherical crown.
Fitted with a slightly domed sapphire crystal and water-resistant to a pressure of 3 atm equivalent to a depth of 30 metres, the case features a transparent back enabling one to admire the exceptional finish of the new-generation Calibre 2460 SCC developed and manufactured by Vacheron Constantin.
The narrow bezel of the Chronomètre Royal 1907 provides plenty of scope for an exceptional dial. Conceived according to the spirit and the traditional techniques used for the original Chronomètre Royal in 1907, the dial is crafted in white Grand Feu enamel on an 18-carat white gold base.
The painted Arabic numerals on the 100 exclusive watches produced in 2007 feature a visible distinguishing token: like the Chronomètre Royal launched in 1907, the figure 12 is a rich shade of burgundy red.
Like the original model, a complete external outer minute circle sets the finishing touch to the dial, while the “Chronomètre Royal Vacheron Constantin Genève brand, spelt out across the arc of a circle just as it was when the trademark was registered, tops the Vacheron Constantin Genève inscription at 12 o’clock. The pear-shaped 18-carat yellow gold hands are also reminiscent of the aesthetics of the first Chronomètre Royal created by the Manufacture in Geneva.
A material that is both demanding to work with and extremely stable, having eloquently proven its ability to stand the test of time and in particular its resistance to oxidation, enamel confers peerless depth and luminosity on these exceptional dials.Entirely hand-crafted according to traditional processes, each of these dials can legitimately claim to be one-of-a-kind thanks to a wealth of tiny details.
A form of artistic craftsmanship inseparable from the history of exceptional watchmaking, enamel-working currently boasts only a handful of specialists capable of making objects of such superlative quality. Producing a single dial calls for five to seven firings in the oven at temperatures of almost 800° C, in order to achieve an optimal effect. To avoid any risk of buckling during the heating, the enamelled dial is reinforced by a layer of enamel backing on the lower face.
These operations are all the more delicate in that the unique composition of the piece places it at risk of cracking or being transformed in unexpected ways with each firing.
Consistently given pride of place by Vacheron Constantin over the centuries, the art of Grand Feu enamelling is once again majestically demonstrated in these new models.
This regal exterior is matched by a truly imperial movement. The Chronomètre Royal 1907 watch houses a new mechanical movement bearing a rare double certification: the Hallmark of Geneva, and a chronometer-rating certificate from the Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC).The mechanical self-winding Calibre 2460 SCC has been entirely designed, developed and manufactured by the Manufacture Vacheron Constantin.
This state-of-the-art movement is equipped – just like the most prestigious models in the century-old history of the Chronomètre Royal – with a stop seconds device enabling the wearer to stop the watch completely and thus achieve adjustment to the nearest second.
Beating to the cadence of 28,800 vibrations per hour and endowed with a power reserve of approximately 43 hours, Calibre 2460 SCC drives central hour, minute and seconds hands. Its construction incorporated ceramic ball-bearings used in the rotation of the oscillating weight, thereby avoiding any need to lubricate the bearings and guaranteeing its durability.
In keeping with its noble rank, Calibre 2460 SCC is also distinguished by the careful bevelling work on the bridges decorated with the Côtes de Genève motif, and by the circular graining on the mainplate: this meticulous finishing, worthy of the finest Haute Horlogerie models, can be duly admired through the sapphire crystal case-back.
To ensure enhanced visibility of these remarkable decorations, the 22-carat gold oscillating weight of the Calibre 2460 SCC is delicately open-worked. Created specifically for this timepiece, this oscillating weight is engraved “Chronomètre Royal”, appearing above the “Vacheron Constantin Genève” inscription.
The exemplary and rare double certification of the Chronomètre Royal 1907 is a powerful token of its perfection and precision. First stamped with the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva, Calibre 2460 SCC meets the twelve demanding criteria of this symbol of durability and horological perfection.
The movement then successfully underwent the fifteen days of stringent testing performed by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC), a pledge of precision and exemplary precision in all positions. This battery of tests designed to guarantee the fine workmanship and accuracy of Calibre 2460 SCC is further complemented by individual controls conducted within the Manufacture on each movement for a full 30-day period.
The Chronomètre Royal 1907 model is delivered with two personalised documents certifying the quality of the tests performed on each of the movements: a special rating certificate from the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute, reserved exclusively for watches bearing the Hallmark of Geneva; as well as a certification by Vacheron Constantin – signed by its CEO Juan-Carlos Torres and by the production manager – presenting the rating observation table of the model and individually guaranteeing that each timepiece emerging from the Manufacture workshops is worthy of and compliant with the lofty demands linked to the prestigious Chronomètre Royal watch by Vacheron Constantin.
Model: Vacheron Constantin Chronomètre Royal 1907 Limited Edition
White Grand Feu enamel – 18-carat gold,11 Arabic numerals, black enamelled the figure 12 in burgundy red.
Calibre 2460 SCC, automatic mechanical Stamped with the Hallmark of Geneva COSC-certified
Movement thickness: 3.60 mm
Movement diameter: 25.60 mm (11 ½ lignes)
Power reserve: Over 40 hours
Jewelling: 27 rubies
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations/hour
Central hours, minutes and seconds
18-carat pink gold, 39 mm in diameter
Water-resistance: Tested to a pressure of 3 atm, equivalent to a depth of 30 metres
Hand-sewn brown alligator leather
Clasp: Classic 18-carat pink gold buckle; Polished half-Maltese Cross
Limited series of 100, issued in 2007 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Chronomètre Royal