Vacheron Constantin is a Maison built on passion and innovation. These two key values are what’s kept this historical watchmaker at the top of its game for over 260 years.
Despite its age, Vacheron Constantin is timeless. Thanks to its highly-skilled watchmakers and forward-thinking teams, the brand continues to reinvent, innovate and lead in the world of high watchmaking. This year, of course, has been very different when it comes to presenting novelties. But while the format had changed, Vacheron Constantin remained true to itself and presented all of its planned launches through the Watches & Wonders digital platform. With its continued innovation and creativity, the brand has set the bar for 2020.
Passion is something that you can feel deeply within all of those who are part of the Vacheron Constantin family. From the artisans to all the way does to the end client there is a sense of excitement and joy at what comes next. Someone who is particularly passionate for the Maison is Chief Marketing Officer, Laurent Perves. Perves joined Vacheron Constantin in 2016 and was tasked with growing the modern-day message of the brand while embracing its history, something he has been working on over the last four years. As the latest novelties are unveiled we talk to Perves on the newest timepieces and how he continues to convey the message of innovation and passion at this iconic watchmaker.
What is the impact of COVID-19 on the industry in general and as a brand are you changing anything in your strategy moving forward?
Of course, it is impacting everyone, it’s a very sad situation. At Vacheron Constantin, we had to adapt to prioritise the safety of our staff, our partners and our clients. But at the same time, our mission is to keep going. We like to say Vacheron Constantin is like an old tree. Sometimes it will get shaken by the wind or a storm but it will never fall and so very early on, we decided to do our maximum to continue doing what we do best and that is to make watches. The end goal for us is, of course, to maintain the safety and health of our staff, clients and partners, but also ensure that we move forward and I think that the reaction of Watches and Wonders was good because people were excited to see some novelties and to escape and dream.
Let’s talk first about the ladies collection Égérie that was launched earlier this year – what can you tell us?
Indeed, we launched Égérie, our new feminine collection, just before Watches & Wonders. We realised that one in three of the watches we sell from all of our collections is to a woman but many of our clients were asking for something that was dedicated just to women – something that is easy to wear every day and can be worn with different outfits for different occasions. They wanted something that was, of course, original, very Vacheron Constantin, with high watchmaking, an automatic movement that is easy to maintain and versatility with the straps. So Égérie was the response to this. Most of the watches in our boutiques that allow the strap to be changed are bought by women, so it was very important for us to have this aspect. So after all of this research, we looked back at the archive and worked with the design team to create this watch which filled a gap in our portfolio. It’s had a great reaction so far and it’s very encouraging. Moving forward to Watches and Wonders we are very happy to introduce a new version of Égérie with the high jewellery model. This is something that our clients, particularly in the Middle East, really like.
What can you tell us about the tribute to music with the Les Cabinotiers collection?
Every year we have a theme in which we present our Les Cabinotiers novelties. This year La Musique du Temps which means music of time is a tribute to music and sound in general, in the form of a chiming watch. We first presented these timepieces to our clients earlier this year at a VIP event in Singapore. More recently, we added two models to this collection which were revealed at Watches & Wonders. The first one is called Les Cabinotiers Grand Complication Split-seconds chronograph – Tempo. It is a split-seconds chronograph with 24 horological complications – it’s actually the most complicated wristwatch we’ve made in the history of Vacheron Constantin. The construction is perfectly symmetrical so it is completely reversible. It combines the best of terrestrial time complication with the perpetual calendar, split-second chronograph dual time complication, as well as a tourbillion. On the reverse you have the solar time reference complication with the time of sunset, sunrise and the lengths of the day and night respectively positioned at 3 and 9 o’clock, which all allows you to look at time from a different angle.
Les Cabinotiers Astronomical striking grand complication – Ode to Music is the second novelty. Considered as the sister of the Les Cabinotiers Celestia unique model we launched three years ago, this timepiece is based on a double-sided minute repeater model displaying solar, sidereal and civil time, complete with a perpetual calendar.
We finally presented Les Cabinotiers the singing birds, four unique timepieces with the original time display thanks to a dragging-hour system paired with remarkable enamelling technics. We engrave the watch first and then we fill it with enamel which gives very thin, precise lines of gold in between the joints. All of these pieces are unique and they represent the craftsmanship and excellence of Vacheron Constantin.
What can you tell us about this Fiftysix?
The Fiftysix has had a great reaction since its launch in 2018 and it has for sure, become a key pillar of the Maison. In the Middle East, in particular, we have seen a very good reaction to this line. Last year we started to animate the dial of Fiftysix on the steel version with petroleum blue which was a very unique colour used only for that collection. We had a lot of demand for gold, so for this year we tried to find the best tone for the dial to match the gold colour of the case and give a vintage feel to this watch. That is how we found this very special Sepia brown dial colour that we associated with a brown calfskin leather strap. It has been greatly praised so far.
What can you tell us about Overseas this year?
Overseas is doing very well. What is important for Vacheron Constantin is to have an elegant sport watch that embodies very high watchmaking. This year we wanted to go back to open-working; something that is deep in the DNA of Vacheron Constantin. So we created the Overseas Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin Skeleton. With the openwork, we are adding even more complication to the watch by removing the maximum possible from each component of the movement. This is the pure expression of high watchmaking, but at the same time, it offers the comfort of an elegant sport watch. It really shows the savoir-faire of Vacheron Constantin.
How does Vacheron Constantin find a balance between the heritage of the brand but ensure it is appealing to the client of today?
Firstly, this is how the Maison has always been working. A very important aspect is maintaining the savoir-faire and craftsmanship. Vacheron Constantin has been transmitting its savoir-faire and keeping the best watchmakers and Metier-d’art artisans generation after generations. We have our own artisans and we can do everything in-house. We are also working with students on apprenticeship programmes to make sure that these skills are not lost. Innovation and engineering are important as well as the spirit of imagination and the freedom of creativity, which have been part of the Maison’s identity since the very beginning. This creativity is driving Vacheron Constantin and the history of the brand is always an inspiration.
Can you tell us a little about sustainability at Vacheron Constantin?
Sustainability is part of our social responsibility. We believe that we must do everything in a way that is most respectful of the environment and of individuals. We have a variety of programmes, but we don’t use them as a communication tool, but something that we act by. We’re working in the field of education to maintain employment and keep the skills of watchmaking within the house. We are also working on reducing our footprint and looking after the environment.
What in your opinion are the prerequisites of creating an object of desire?
This is a question that all luxury companies ask themselves. I don’t think there is one recipe, there are many components. Nowadays, people want to dream and as a brand, we need to touch their emotions. This is the starting point for us. The second thing is the legacy you leave and the history and knowledge you bring to the client. We have seen especially on our digital channels that educational concepts are more in demand, whereas previously we have always concentrated more on visual concepts. And finally, I think people are more than ever looking for real value. People are asking what a product will bring to them and they want to make sure they get value (not necessarily tangible value, but a value of some form) for the price they pay.
What is in the pipeline for Vacheron Constantin for the second half of 2020?
Many things. We have launched a number of novelties at Watches & Wonders, which will take us through to October. We also have a lot of projects coming up with artists. We will soon have some exciting new faces joining our talent pool including Yiqing Yin, the French Haute Couture designer. This will lead us into 2021 where I cannot tell you what’s going to happen just yet! But we have a couple of very important anniversaries that we are looking forward to celebrating.
What is it that you haven’t done yet that at Vacheron Constantin that you would still like to do?
So much! What we want to do right now is to push the relationship with our clients further. It’s very important, especially at a moment like this. We have started to develop a whole hospitality structure with our clients. We welcome a lot of visitors to the manufacturer. The second thing is maintaining our innovation at the top of its game. There is nothing more rewarding for us than seeing the reactions of people when we present our innovative creations.
What is a message you would like to send to your clients in the Middle East?
The first thing is saying Thank you! The Middle East is an amazing region for Vacheron Constantin. During Watches & Wonders it was the region we had the most digital contact with. The level of passion in the Middle East is outstanding, so thank you for that. You can count on us to keep bringing beautiful timepieces and always continuing to meet your expectations.