Vacheron Constantin SA is a Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer founded in 1755. Since 1996, it has been a subsidiary of the Swiss Richemont Group. Vacheron Constantin is the oldest Swiss manufacturer and one of the oldest watch manufacturers in the world with an uninterrupted watchmaking history since its foundation in 1755. It employs around 1,200 people worldwide as of 2018, most of whom are based in the company's manufacturing plants in Canton of Geneva and Vallée de Joux in Switzerland.
Vacheron Constantin is a highly regarded watch manufacturer. The Vacheron Constantin pocket watch No. 402833 (1929), which was owned by King Fuad I of Egypt, ranks as one of the most expensive watches ever sold at auction, fetching US$2.77 million (3,306,250 CHF) in Geneva on April 3, 2005. In 2015, Vacheron Constantin introduced the pocket watch Reference 57260, which currently holds the title of the most complicated mechanical watch ever made, with 57 horological complications.
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Vacheron Constantin was founded in 1755 by Jean-Marc Vacheron, an independent watchmaker in Geneva, Switzerland. He was a close friend of leading Enlightenment philosophers Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire due to their common interests in philosophy, science and watchmaking. In 1770, Vacheron's company created the world's first horological complication, and nine years later he designed the first engine-turned dials. The son of Jean-Marc Vacheron, Abraham Vacheron, took over the family business in 1785. During this period, the company was able to survive the French Revolution (1789–1799). In 1810, Jacques-Barthélemy Vacheron, the grandson of the founder, became the head of the company. He was the first to initiate the company's exports to France and Italy.
Later, Jacques-Barthélemy realized that he was not able to handle the business alone. In order to travel overseas and sell the company's products, he needed a partner. Consequently, in 1819, François Constantin became an associate of Vacheron. The company continued its activities under new name Vacheron & Constantin. The company's motto (which remains today), "Faire mieux si possible, ce qui est toujours possible (Do better if possible and that is always possible)", first appeared in Constantin's letter to Jacques-Barthélémy. The letter was dated July 5, 1819.
François Constantin traveled around the world and marketed watches. The main market at the time was North America. In 1833, Vacheron and Constantin hired Georges-Auguste Leschot, whose job was to supervise the manufacturing operations. In particular, Leschot was an inventor and his creations turned out to be a success for the company. His inventions had significant impact on the watchmaking industry in general, and he was the first person to standardize watch movements into Calibers. In 1844, Georges-Auguste Leschot was awarded with a gold medal from the Arts Society of Geneva, which highly appreciated Leschot's pantographic device - a device that was able to mechanically engrave small watch parts and dials.