Vacheron Constantin is more than doubling the size of its manufacturing capacity. The luxury watch company recently opened a new manufacture in Le Brassus, in Switzerland’s famed Valée de Joux, and will double the size of its assembly and finishing facility to 17,000 square meters in Plan-les-Ouates, a suburb of Geneva. The expansion anticipates an extended period of growth, according to the brand. “This new component manufacturing site is a significant step for our Maison”, points out Juan-Carlos Torres, CEO, Vacheron Constantin. “Not only will it enable us to develop our production capacity and to incorporate new skills, but it even more significantly demonstrates our confidence in the future and our capacity to look to the long term.”
The 7,000-square-meter manufacture in Le Brassus will employ more than 200 people – bringing the brand’s total staff to 900 – and is exclusively dedicated to watch component production. Other tasks, such as movement assembly, casing-up and final quality controls are handled in the manufacture in Plan-les-Ouates.
The global investment for this expansion amounts to over 30 million Swiss francs, and will combine cutting-edge technologies alongside exclusive manual traditions. Over 40 professions are now exercised at the new Manufacture, from prototype-making and decoration to hand engraving and quality control testing. Every single part of Vacheron Constantin’s mechanical movements are manually decorated on all surfaces, even those that will remain forever hidden. The chamfering of the components that go into an openworked tourbillon requires over a month’s work by an experienced chamferer. Just the carriage bridge alone calls for 12 hours of chamfering, and each tourbillon has two of them. Over 1,500 separate beads or spots that make up the circular-grained or stippled motif on a self-winding movement’s mainplate must be arranged in perfect succession on a very small surface.
Each of these operations calls for exceptional mastery and dexterity, and Vacheron Constantin has therefore set up in-house training programs to ensure these meticulous decorative operations are executed according to the unique signature of a Vacheron Constantin watch. The Manufacture in Le Brassus will eventually handle the training of apprentices in all sectors of production. Vacheron Constantin aims to have 100% of its production certified by the prestigious Hallmark of Geneva.
Coinciding with this inauguration, the brand has introduced a new minute repeater as evidence of its dedication to the values of high watchmaking and innovation. The Geneva Hallmark certified Patrimony Contemporaine Ultra-Thin Caliber 1731is the thinnest minute repeater caliber (3.90mm) and thinnest minute repeater watch (8.09mm) on the market, says Vacheron. On demand, the repeater sounds the hours, quarter hours and minutes. After activating the repeater slide, a hammer strikes the low-pitched gong to mark the hours, while the quarters are played by two hammers on the two gongs, one low-pitched and the other high-pitched. The minutes are sounded on the high-pitched gong. The gongs are not only connected to the case middle to amplify the sound, but also for the first time stacked rather than placed side by side, resulting in optimal sound. The true soul of a repeater watch, the individual chime of each watch, is recorded and carefully stored before it leaves the manufacture, thus constituting a “soundprint” registered in the Vacheron Constantin archives. This procedure guarantees not only the lifelong repair of all its timepieces, both historical and contemporary, but also the ability to restore within its workshops the unique sound of each model equipped with a minute repeater. Vacheron Constantin made its first minute repeater pocket watch in 1810.[gallery type="slideshow" link="file" ids="2148,2147,2145"]