Luxury brand Vacheron Constantin, the world’s oldest continuingly operating watchmaker, marked its 250th anniversary with an Oct. 24 gala at the New York Public Library’s Astor Hall, one of 17 such celebrations this year in major cities around the world.
“Watchmaking is our passion,” said Claude-Daniel Proellochs, CEO of Vacheron Constantin International, to 250 specially-invited guests. That was amply demonstrated in displays of 32 historical and current watches, covering the brand’s two and a half centuries, and presentation of its anniversary timepieces, created for this year only. They included the Tour de l’Ile, the world’s most complicated wristwatch (16 complications, 834 parts, only seven handcrafted timepieces); the Saint-Gervais, with the new calibre 2250 and a 250 hour power reserve, and the Jubilé 1755, created to commemorate the brand’s quarter millennium and featuring the new self-winding calibre 2475. Altogether, more than $4 million worth of Vacheron Constantin watches were on display.
Not all the timepieces were under glass. The event’s hostess and special guest Melania Trump (wife of Donald Trump) wore the brand’s one-of-a-kind $600,000, 44 ct. diamond Lady Kalla watch.
The event also honored three men who, said Proellochs, exemplified the dedication, passion, and commitment to their work demonstrated by Vacheron Constantin since 1755. They were basketball great Isiah Thomas of the New York Knicks, honored for his record-breaking achievements in basketball; support of educational programs, and work to fight crime and poverty; Albert Maysles, one of America’s most important documentary filmmakers, cited for his “extraordinary works about exceptional people [and] his moving films on ordinary lives; for founding the non-profit Maysles Institute and for his “dedication to truth through filmmaking”; and Eric Rippert, celebrity chef and co-owner of New York’s Le Bernardin restaurant, for award-winning achievements in the culinary arts; and work as chairman of the City Harvest Food Council, and as president of the Palladin Foundation, which supports culinary arts education.
The guests welcomed by Vacheron Constantin USA president Julien Tornare included the brand’s officials, customers and dealers; watch collectors, and a number of celebrities. Among them were actress/fashion designer Tara Subkoff; Leonard Lauder, chairman of The Estee Lauder Companies; bestselling author and chef Anthony Bourdain; fashion designer Alice Roi; British Formula One driver Jenson Button, and contemporary artists Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude.
Swiss watchmaker Jean-Mark Vacheron founded the company in 1755 in Geneva. In 1819, his grandson Jacques Barthelemy Vacheron added a partner, Francois Constantin. The watchmaker, still headquartered in Geneva and owned now by the Richemont Group, is the oldest continuously-operating Swiss watchmaker. The brand is sold in 56 stores in the United States and four in Canada. Retail prices start at about $7,000 and reach into the millions for a few jeweled watches, with most sales in the $15,000 – $20,000 range.